Warriors' bid still on despite wobble

They just pip woeful Grizzlies but will face them again after meeting flying Spurs

MEMPHIS • The Golden State Warriors' quest to become a big part of National Basketball Association history remains alive - barely.

Golden State, seeking to become the first team in league history to win 73 games during the regular season, were nearly denied the opportunity by the slumping, injury-depleted Memphis Grizzlies.

Memphis, who have lost 11 of their past 14, led most of the final quarter before falling 99-100 on Saturday.

Golden State, who rested starting centre Andrew Bogut, had difficulty against a team they had beaten soundly in two earlier games - including a 50-point win at home.

Stephen Curry (17 points) and Klay Thompson (20 points) struggled from long range, going a combined 5 for 24. But Draymond Green rescued the reigning champions with 23 points, including the game-winning tip-in with a minute to go. He also had 11 rebounds.

Draymond Green of Golden State going up for a shot as P.J. Hairston of Memphis fails to block him. The Warriors must win their last two regular season games to beat Chicago's record.
Draymond Green of Golden State going up for a shot as P.J. Hairston of Memphis fails to block him. The Warriors must win their last two regular season games to beat Chicago's record. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MAKING THE BEST OF IT

When you face a team that 99 per cent of the time doesn't beat themselves... you have to go and take those games.

STEPHEN CURRY, Golden State Warriors point guard, on their next game away against San Antonio Spurs, who are unbeaten at home this season.

"I think the whole game we weren't playing with any intensity," Green said. "We were just out there thinking we were supposed to win and they were taking advantage of that."

Memphis led 74-65 late in the third quarter after an 11-0 run capped by reserve point guard Xavier Munford's three-pointer, and entered the fourth with a 78-70 lead.

The gap stretched to 10 on a driving dunk by Matt Barnes. The Grizzlies then led 90-80 midway through the quarter on a reverse lay-up by Barnes.

But the Warriors chipped away at the lead on three-pointers by Curry and Andre Iguodala and grabbed their first lead of the quarter 98-97 on a three-pointer by Harrison Barnes with 1min 40sec to go.

After the Grizzlies regained the lead 99-98 on two free throws by Matt Barnes, Green scored on a tip-in with one minute to go for a 100-99 advantage. It was originally ruled offensive basket interference, but over-ruled upon a review.

Memphis had a chance to win in the final eight seconds, but Lance Stephenson missed two shots - one from close range and a desperation 16-foot fade-away at the buzzer.

Matt Barnes led the Grizzlies with 24 points and 15 rebounds.

"Tremendous effort from our guys, great job battling," Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said. "I thought we saw some great performances from our guys, but at the end of the day we just didn't have enough offence."

Memphis will get another shot at facing the Warriors again on Wednesday. But not before Golden State go up against the San Antonio Spurs this morning (Singapore time) in a showdown that promises more drama.

The Warriors (71-9), attempting to surpass the 1995-96 Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls (72-10), could not pick a harder place to go to for their penultimate game than the AT&T Centre.

They have lost 33 consecutive regular-season games at San Antonio since February1997, with the Spurs owning the longest home winning streak by one team over another.

Moreover, the Warriors will be playing in their second day of back-to-back games. Two of their losses this season have come on the back end of consecutive nights.

San Antonio are also shooting for a bit of history as they are a perfect 39-0 at home and have a chance to top the 1985-86 Boston Celtics, who were a record 40-1 at home.

"It's a big game for us to come out and play aggressive, play smart and overcome the schedule," said Curry. "It's hard to win on the road in the league in general, but when you face a team that 99 per cent of the time doesn't beat themselves... you have to go and take those games."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2016, with the headline 'WARRIORS' BID STILL ON DESPITE WOBBLE'. Print Edition | Subscribe