As has been their way all season, the Warriors did not go quietly. Their season is over, but they can feel good about how they never stopped trying to make the most of it.
Stephen Curry scored 39 points, unloading everything he had left of an MVP-caliber season, but the Warriors fell in overtime to the Memphis Grizzlies 117-112 Friday night at Chase Center, bringing Golden State’s season to an end.
Following Wednesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Warriors had to beat the Grizzlies in the final game of the play-in tournament in order to advance to the playoffs and first-round meeting with the Utah Jazz. Instead, Golden State will miss the playoffs for the second straight season.
Curry carried his team on offense for most of the season, finishing the year with the scoring title. Even after playing 41 minutes in a physically and emotionally taxing loss in Los Angeles, he played 47 minutes and shot 13 for 28 overall (6 for 15 from 3-point range). But he turned the ball over seven times.
In a sign of fatigue, he and Draymond Green (11 points on 5 for 11 shooting, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in 45 minutes) combined for 13 of Golden State’s 21 turnovers that led to 22 points for the Grizzlies. Forward Andrew Wiggins finished with 22 points on 10 for 22 shooting and 10 rebounds.
But after an underwhelming performance in Sunday’s regular-season finale, second-year point guard Ja Morant paced Memphis with 35 points on 14 for 29 shooting, including a career-best 5 for 10 from 3-point range. Guard Dillon Brooks, whose layup in the second quarter gave the Grizzlies a 17-point lead, finished with 14 points and held his own as Curry’s primary defender.
Each time the Warriors clawed back, the Grizzlies pulled away. Memphis led from the end of the first quarter to the final moments of regulation. With 3:18 to go, his team trailing 95-88, Steve Kerr called a timeout. The Warriors responded with a 14-4 run to tie the game with 33.2 seconds to go.
After the defense forced a 24-seconds violation, Golden State got the ball back with 9.2 seconds remaining, but Green missed the go-ahead layup and the game was sent to overtime, where the Warriors were outscored 18-13.
Morant’s back to back layups pushed Memphis’ lead to five, and Poole dribbled the ball out of bounds — Golden State’s 21st turnover — with 27 seconds to go. Disappointing as it was for the Warriors, they were exhausted.
The Warriors finished the regular-season playing at a breakneck pace, largely with an eight-man rotation. After winning 15 of their final 20 games to end the season, they ran out of steam, dropping both games in the play-in tournament.
But if there’s a takeaway from this season, it’s that this team overcame injures and a lack of depth to come within the playoff’s edge. Players such as Poole and Juan Toscano-Anderson emerged as building blocks, Curry and Green proved they are still in the thick of their primes, and Kerr had perhaps the best coaching performance of his tenure. A first-round series against the Jazz would have simply been a formality. Curry has said for weeks that he wanted this season to mean something. He can walk off the Chase Center floor for the last time this season knowing it did.
Contributed by local news sources