OAKLAND -– Having already won once at Oracle Arena last week, only the third visiting team to have done so all season, the Grizzlies looked right at home again in the Warriors’ building in the early part of Wednesday’s pivotal Game 5.
Marc Gasol’s jump shot with 3:26 to go in the first quarter put Memphis up 23-10, and a stunned sellout crowd might as well have been grasping deflated thundersticks.
In a furious end to the opening stanza, though, the Warriors morphed back into the Warriors. They ran up and down the hardwood, draining shot after shot in a 16-2 run that was capped by Stephen Curry’s three-pointer to put Golden State ahead 26-25 before the first break.
They essentially coasted after that, taking a 3-2 series lead thanks to a 98-78 win.
Curry’s shot that gave the Warriors their first lead of the night at the end of the first was the turning point, according to Vince Carter.
“We got the start we wanted to,” Carter said. “They made a run. I think that three that put them up 26-25 got them the momentum, and we just didn’t answer the call.
“We were ready to play. We weren’t able to match their intensity once they got the crowd behind them. Then they got to doing what they do.”
Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger indicated, like Carter, that his team seemed to lack some hustle. Defensive specialist and emotional spark plug Tony Allen was unable to play with a sore left hamstring, which may have played a role.
“They laid their bodies out. We stood and watched a lot,” Joerger said. “Balls bouncing around that they get, and again, they torture you because it's another free look that they get and another free shot. It's easier to get in rhythm the more shots you get."
Still, that statistics were fairly even in several key categories. Rebounds were 44-43 in favor of the Warriors, Memphis took 83 shots to the Warriors’ 81, and each team committed 16 turnovers.
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Golden State was much more accurate, though, including going 14-for-30 from three-point range, and outscored the Grizzlies 31-6 in fast-break points. Memphis was held under 40 percent shooting (39.8), including just 4-for-15 from beyond the arc.
“I don't think we played really well,” Joerger said. “Give them a lot of credit. They made a lot of shots. They moved the basketball very well. We can't put up two 16‑point quarters and play against team that can score. You've got to be able to score.”
Kosta Koufos said: “They hit some big shots and three pointers, and that’s what they’re known for.”
Gasol led Memphis with 18 points, but was just 8-for-22 from the floor, including numerous misses from mid-range. Fellow big man Zach Randolph had 13 points, but only two after the first quarter.
“I tried to get good shots,” Gasol said. “Hopefully I'll get to the paint a little more and get away from the double team, that way I can get to the free‑throw line and keep them in foul trouble. That would be great.”
The Grizzlies will attempt to keep their season alive at home on Friday, and force a decisive Game 7 back to Oracle on Sunday afternoon.
“Now it’s our turn to figure it out to survive,” Carter said.