San Francisco Chronicle
Warriors get win despite Curry ejection
An ugly first half. A Stephen Curry ejection late in the fourth quarter. And a victory.
The Golden State Warriors won Wednesday night, overcoming a forgettable first half to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 122-120 at Chase Center.
They did so despite the ejection of Curry, who was tossed with 1:14 left when — angry with teammate Jordan Poole — he threw his mouthpiece into the crowd.
It was just Curry's third ejection in his career — playoffs included — and all three have been mouthguard-related.
“It was in a crucial time of the game and the way our season has gone there's questions about the heightened sense of urgency and every detail matters,” Curry said. “I reacted in a way that obviously put myself out the game, put the team in a tough place. But the intention and energy around what matters in the sense of winning, that's what it's about. Thankfully we all responded really well.”
Following a Donte DiVincenzo offensive rebound, Poole hoisted a long 3-pointer with a dozen seconds left on the shot clock as Curry stood a few feet away aggressively calling for the ball. Running downcourt after Poole's shot missed, Curry angrily removed his mouthpiece and unleashed it into the crowd along the baseline. And just like that, the Warriors lost their leading scorer, who finished with 34 points in 35 minutes.
“He knows he can't make that mistake again,” head coach Steve Kerr said of Curry. “But I was really proud of the guys. They fought through and executed down the stretch.”
Poole, however, wound up being the hero. He took an inbounds pass from DiVincenzo and made a game-winning layup with a second to play. The victory snapped the Warriors' fourgame home losing streak and moved them back to .500 (24-24).
Poole finished with 21 points, Klay Thompson — whose 3pointer with 14.1 seconds to play had put the Warriors ahead 120118 — had 24 and Jonathan Kuminga — starting for the ailing Andrew Wiggins — had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting.
Ja Morant led Memphis with 29 points and 12 assists.
Kerr said the Warriors' final baseline out-of-bounds play was actually a call by Draymond Green, and was an action the team hadn't practiced in months. However, Poole's back-cut that led to the winning bucket was a heads-up read by the 23-yearold.
“Klay just hit a really big shot and we went to him the possession before so I think the other team was really focused on Klay, whether it was him coming off a screen or him getting open offball,” Poole said. “We've run that play for a couple of years now ... just kind of made eye contact with Donte. It was all like a readfeel thing.”
After the game, Poole lightheartedly taunted Curry with a mouthpiece throw of his own in the hallway before the two embraced.
Curry's scoring — and Poole's last-second shot — erased what had often been a sloppy effort at both ends by the Warriors. They committed 21 turnovers, which Memphis turned into 27 points. The Grizzlies also scored 26 points at the free-throw line; Golden State had 27 fouls.
The Warriors' first half was filled with turnovers (14) and untimely fouls that kept them creating any real separation from the Grizzlies, who were visiting Chase Center for the second time this season. Golden State trailed 54-53 at halftime despite shooting 51.3% from the field.
“As poor as our execution was in the first half and as scattered as we were, it just looked like we settled down, got better down the stretch and made better decisions,” Kerr said.
Memphis didn't shoot the ball particularly well in the first half (41.7%). But Golden State's litany of mistakes kept the Grizzlies in striking distance. Memphis woke up in the third quarter and rattled off 42 points to take a sixpoint lead into the fourth quarter.
Utilizing a smaller lineup of four guards and Green, the Warriors outscored Memphis 23-11 over the final 6:04.
“I mean (playing with smaller lineups) started during our 2015 championship, so I'm all for it,” Thompson said. “It's still here, still working. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.”