With two minutes left in the third quarter, the Warriors had doubled up the Grizzlies, 88-44.
And so the bench came in to close it out, 14 minutes of closing time, which could have been more. The Warriors simply placed another level of dominance into Webster’s dictionary with a 119-69 win.
The win is the 20th straight regular season home triumph, the longest such streak in franchise history, dating back to last season. The Warriors’ plus-100 point differential, coming after the 50 point win, is a new league record through the first four games.
Point guard Stephen Curry scored 30 points in 28 minutes, adding three steals and three boards. Starting center Festus Ezeli looked every bit the player that Golden State hopes he will become, with 10 rebounds and 11 points.
The Warriors defense, a largely understated element of the team from a national standpoint, was in full force Monday night.
Golden State scoring 119 is almost an expectation at this point, even if Curry’s 30 points were a game low in this young season — another startling element.
Holding a good offense to only 69 points is a different element, a different ballgame even. Interim head coach Luke Walton touched on the criticisms that focus on the Warriors distance shooting too often:
“I somewhat agree with the jump shooting thing, I just never understood how they would throw certain teams into that category. That they would talk about us like that. Even though we were a top defensive team all year long. The reason that makes us so great is that we have unbelievable jump shooters and we get after people on defense. We don’t just try and outscore you. Our emphasis starts on the defensive end.”
The Warriors defense might be a lot further along that they were last season. Is the team surprised by the insanely powerful start?
Forward Draymond Green said:
“We know we’re good. We’re not surprised. And we still have a lot more room to grow.”
“We expect to play well, but I don’t think that’s happened to any guys on this team. It’s exciting to win by that much.”
The last time the dubs laid a 50-burger was 24 years ago to the day, a 1991 match against the Kings. These aren’t those Kings, but this is clearly a better Warriors squad as well.
Memphis clearly has playoff traits, making the win even more of a statement. If it were the 2013 76ers, or the 2014 Lakers, a win like this would be easily explained by that alone.
The second and third quarters especially.
The Grizzlies went 5-for-25 during the second quarter, with Gasol and Randolph going without any points. The third quarter was a similar story. 4-for-23 from the floor, though Gasol knocked down a pair from short range in two ticks under 10 minutes of action.
The Warriors didn’t do anything special, not in the mind of Walton, who said:
“It started with Festus and Draymond taking on that challenge and wanting to guard them and putting great pressure on them. Zach and Marc are good enough that they can still score a bunch of points even with great defense. We said the initial line of defense is that aggressive and competing that hard, and now we’re able to rotate guys at them as well. It makes for a tough night.”
Walton heaped praise onto Randolph and Gasol, and the tandem has earned it over several seasons. But the youthful, tough and exuberant Warriors showed them a different animal Monday night.
The defensively-led blowout coming against the team who nearly took the Warriors to Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals just a few months ago.
Golden State made Memphis look more like a developmental league group this time, not a proven team who can keep pace with Western conference powers.
Even as the Warriors turned the ball over 13 times in the first 40 minutes, something that could easily be a recipe for disaster against a quality squad like Memphis, who turned the ball over 10 times in that same span.
Of all the Warriors starters, forward Harrison Barnes had the lowest plus-minus, finishing with a plus-23. Memphis starters were a collective minus-155.
No typo. No mistake. No optometrist needed.
Golden State’s starting group was plus-179, Ezeli and forward Draymond Green posting career highs at plus-41.
Oracle Arena was half empty with five minutes left in the game, and more fans leaving in droves, likely bored with the game being decided shortly after halftime.
Curry’s 21 point third quarter nearly matched what he’d done on Halloween, a 28-point third quarter against New Orleans, totaling 53 points that evening.
Ian Clark, the Warriors 15th man, logged minutes late in the game, scoring 15 points and driving to the basket several times, showing some of the same traits that helped Leandro Barbosa become a staple on Golden State’s bench.
Clark led in scoring off the bench, James Michael McAdoo adding another nine points.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.