The Golden State Warriors have some unfinished business to tend to before year’s end when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night in San Francisco.
The Warriors have opened the season 25-6, with one of the losses — the first, in fact — having come at the hands of the Grizzlies in an October meeting at Golden State.
In a rematch of last year’s Western Conference play-in finale, Memphis denied Golden State a measure of revenge with a 104-101 overtime victory, handing the Warriors their first loss after a 4-0 start.
Ja Morant was the hero of the rematch with 30 points, just as he’d been with 35 points in another overtime win in the play-in game, which ended the Warriors’ season.
In what now amounts to a double-revenge game for Golden State, Morant will be playing for just the second time since missing 12 straight games with a sprained left knee.
He had 16 points, eight assists and six rebounds in his return Monday against Oklahoma City, but the home fans — who had seen the Grizzlies win 10 of 12 in his absence — seemed to pay more attention to his four turnovers in a shocking 102-99 defeat and let him know about it.
Afterward, Morant was not happy.
“Running down the court, I heard some of our fans courtside tell me I need to sit back out,” he said. “I just want to know what they wanted me to get out of that. I feel like that just makes it worse. Normally, when anybody says anything about me, it fuels me. Tonight, the remarks from those fans actually hurt.
“But I’ll do what I normally do and bounce back. Very excited to see this next game.”
The Grizzlies might be happy that Thursday’s game is on the road. They’ve had more success at Golden State, prevailing in two of their last three visits, than against the Warriors at home, where the clubs have split their last six meetings.
Golden State remains hot at home, however, where they’ve won 14 of 15 since Memphis’ visit in October.
All 14 Warriors wins in that stretch have been by 10 or more points, including Monday’s 113-98 triumph over Sacramento in the opener of a two-game homestand.
Damion Lee responded to a rare start with 18 points, making all four of his 3-point attempts, and Draymond Green recorded his first triple-double of the season in the win over the Kings — a game in which Stephen Curry’s 3-point shooting slump continued on a 30-point night.
Curry, who became the NBA’s 3-point king last week in New York, has shot just 28-for-86 (32.6 percent) on behind-the-arc shots in his last six games.
The Warriors had hoped to have Klay Thompson make his season debut this week, but that’s been pushed back to January. In the meantime, they’ve lost Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole to COVID-19 issues, putting even more pressure on the club’s reconfigured reserve crew.
“Bench was great. Every guy who came off the bench played well for us,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the Sacramento win. “Gary (Payton II) was everywhere defensively and on the boards, and had three steals, and doing what Gary does. I thought Andre (Iguodala) was just brilliant; vintage Andre and knocking down a couple of threes, but his defense is still just world-class. Otto (Porter Jr.) was great. I can keep going down the list; we needed it.”
–Field Level Media