OAKLAND (California) • Down by 18 points to the two-time defending Western Conference champions with 7min 47sec to play on Friday, the Memphis Grizzlies had every reason to pack their bags and start heading home.
Instead, they worked overtime to assure one of their most enjoyable cross-country flights of the National Basketball Association (NBA) season.
Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph combined for four baskets on Memphis' first four possessions of overtime, capping a remarkable comeback by the Grizzlies that produced a stunning 128-119 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
"We just never let go of the rope," insisted Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, whose 17-footer with 7.4 seconds remaining in regulation forced the extra session.
"We got into their legs a little bit. They were having to work so hard to get open looks, which worked in our favour going into overtime."
Randolph added: "We just kept fighting. Our leaders had great games. I am in my prime. I am doing what is best for my team."
Wrapping up a four-game trip with a second win, the Grizzlies trailed by 24 points in the third quarter and 18 in the fifth minute of the fourth before rallying to tie on Conley's crowd-silencer.
The Grizzlies, who outscored the Warriors 32-13 in the fourth quarter, also dominated the overtime, using the four hoops by Gasol and Randolph to build a lead they never relinquished.
Troy Daniels turned a Draymond Green turnover into a key three-pointer, and Conley and Tony Allen converted lead-protecting hoops late as the Grizzlies completed a second straight win over the Warriors this season.
"I didn't expect to be down 20 and then come back," Grizzlies coach David Fizdale admitted.
"I definitely thought that we would show resolve and come back and play better basketball. There's a lot of fight in this team."
Conley and Randolph had 27 points apiece and Gasol added 23 for Memphis (23-16), who held the Warriors without a field goal for the first 8:46 of the fourth quarter.
Stephen Curry, hitting 15 of 27 from the field and five three-pointers, had a game-high 40 points for the Warriors.
"It was a tough loss, a bad loss," Golden State coach Steve Kerr summed up.
"A game we should have won."
The Warriors, who lost just their sixth game of the season to go with 31 wins, had not blown a lead of 24 or more points since April 20, 1999, when the Los Angeles Lakers rallied to beat them after having been behind by 28.
Curry's second four-point play of the season capped a third-quarter flurry that allowed the Warriors to pull away from the Grizzlies temporarily. But Memphis dominated from there.
"They got some momentum early in the fourth quarter. This is the NBA and that happens," Kerr observed. "We didn't do a good job of combating that momentum.
"We were really solid for three quarters. Then in the fourth quarter, they started to make their run, and I didn't like our body language. That bothers me."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE