Warriors veterans help topple Grizzlies

It was a throwback performance Sunday evening at Oracle — and not just because Vince Carter threw down a hammer like he did during the 2000 dunk contest in Oakland. The veterans on the Warriors kept them afloat and eventually pulled past the pesky Memphis Grizzlies 106-94.

Andre Iguodala continued his great month of March, scoring 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting with seven rebounds and four assists.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors’ locker room at Oracle Arena.

He even delivered his own dunk to counter Carter’s.

Iguodala’s been possibly the Warriors’ best offensive weapon in the last five games, averaging 12 points per game on 22-of-35 shooting — a blistering 62.8 percent. During that span, he’s turned the ball over just three times.

Steve Kerr had a simple message for Iguodala after his strong recent play:

“Whatever you’re doing keep doing it. He looks fantastic. He looks incredibly athletic and bouncy and fresh. He’s done a great job of stepping up in KD’s absence, recognizing what we need from him and he’s been brilliant.”

Stephen Curry said that he can tell when Iguodala is going to go off — when he golfs the day before.

Iguodala wasn’t sure about that but said it’s definitely something he’ll keep an eye on:

“The weathers been bad so I haven’t played as much as I would like, but I did have a really good range session yesterday. I was hitting the ball really well… It’s not good for the body though. But it might be true, I might try it out.”

Andre was joined by the Warriors’ other center David West, who played a season-high 17 minutes in leading the team. While his line of three points, five rebounds and one assist may not look like he had an impact, he was felt the entire time he was on the court.

West hounded Zach Randolph and held him to just one shot attempt while he was guarding him in the fourth. Randolph was held to just one basket the whole second half after scoring 12 points in the first.

Curry said that West looks forward to these physical matchups:

“He’s tough, you’re not going to move him on the post at all. And I think he relishes those opportunities to play a more physical type game, which is his style. I think he did a more amazing job of keeping Z-Bo off the offensive glass because that’s where he can feast.”

West also kept the ball jumping on offense, humming passes through and over the defense and even guarded the pick-and-roll pretty steadily.

Once the fourth quarter, started the young guns would take it from there.

Klay Thompson missed just one shot in the second half as he shot 8-of-9 and scored 21 of his 31 points after halftime.

Matt Barnes said that there’s really nothing you can do when he gets into one of his zones:

“You just have to foul him a lot and not even let him shoot it…I’ve been on both ends, I’m glad it’s with me now rather than against me.”

Curry joined in on the second half act, pouring in eight points in two minutes to finally put the game out of the reach of the Grizzlies. He finished with 21 points, 11 assists and four steals, which marks the second game in a row he’s posted a 20/10/4.

It seemed like the Warriors (59-14) were on the verge of another blowout as they opened the third on a tear offensively, but as Golden State’s offense picked up, its defense fell off.

Despite not having Marc Gasol, who missed the game due to a left foot strain, the Grizzlies beat up on the Warriors inside with 42 points in the paint. Their front court of Zach Randolph and JaMychal Green shot a combined 13-of-26 from the field and piled up 28 points. The Warriors’ usually-solid center tandem of Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee couldn’t keep up, totaling just 17 minutes combined for a minus-5.

Kerr said that a lot of that had to do with the style of the game:

“It was just a small game, it called for a small lineup. Their speed and high pick-and-roll was bothering us a little bit, so putting Draymond at the center spot sped the game up for us and gave us better defense at the point of attack.”

The Grizzlies (40-33) were also aided by tough shots from Mike Conley, who finished with 29 on 9-of-15 shooting, almost all of them just over the outstretched hands of the Warriors’ defense.

Part of that may have been due to Barnes playing 26 minutes, most of which came with the starters.

There’s no question Barnes is a heady player on the court he’s been with the team for just 13 games, but it is a tough ask for him to memorize defensive assignments and rotations in that short of time.

But Barnes did help offensively, he broke double digits scoring for the third time this season with the Warriors and finished with 10 points. And he’s actually been a reliable 3-point shooter as well, he’s hit over 40 percent from deep over his last nine games.

And they’ll need him to continue with the rest of their veterans to ramp up their play with the most difficult part of their schedule coming up. Not only will they take on the Rockets twice but they will have to play the second seeded Spurs as well as the Washing Wizards who have quietly been the East’s most dominant team.

Up Next

The Warriors now head for a Texas two-step where they will have the unenviable task of taking on the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs in a back-to-back. They play the Rockets first on Tuesday with Houston (51-22) coming in red-hot, winning seven of their last eight. They currently sit at third in the West playoff picture, setting up a potential second round matchup with the Warriors if this seeding holds.

Notes

Klay Thompson topped the 20-point mark for the eighth time in the last nine games. The only game he failed to do so was Friday against the Kings, when he finished with just eight points. … With their win tonight the Warriors improve to 16-0 all-time when Iguodala is able to score 20 or more points in a game. … The Warriors’ 59 wins are now tied for the third-most in franchise history. The last two seasons of 73 and 67 are the only ones ahead of it.


Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.