The Golden State Warriors threw away a 20-point third quarter lead and lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 91-90 Monday night at Oracle Arena.
It was the third straight loss for Golden State, who dropped to 5-11 on the season and 3-9 in January. The Warriors remain winless in six games against Western Conference teams.
Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 23 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Mike Conley scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half and finished with nine assists. Marc Gasol had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Tony Allen added five steals, including four in the fourth quarter.
After starting the season 3-6 and losing Zach Randolph to a torn right MCL early in the season, the Grizzlies have won seven straight and are in first place in the ultra-competitive Southwest Division by percentage points.
Monta Ellis was the Warriors’ leading scorer with 20 points. In his second game back, Stephen Curry had 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. David Lee had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Golden State dominated Memphis for the first 40:34 of the game, leading by double digits throughout and as many as 20 points late in the third quarter.
The final 7:26 were disastrous.
Trailing by 17, the Grizzlies went on a 30-12 game-ending run, thanks to seven turnovers from the Warriors. Conley led the way with nine points and five assists. O.J. Mayo scored five points and Allen added three steals.
“It’s disappointing because we are a team that needed a win,” said Warriors coach Mark Jackson. “We are a team that was playing good basketball up to that point. What we have to realize is you’ve got to play every possession. You can’t think we are up 15 or 16, I can try this cross-court or over-the-head or behind-the back-pass.
“We’ve got to learn to keep our foot on the gas pedal at all times.”
Conley’s fast break layup with 1:26 left gave Memphis their first lead since it was 2-0 in the first quarter. The Grizzlies increased the lead to four with 10.8 seconds remaining.
A tip in by Brandon Rush pulled the Warriors to within two with 6.7 seconds left. Mayo sealed the game with two free throws.
Ellis made a 3-pointer with six-tenths of a second left for the final score.
“Give them credit,” said Jackson. “They battled. They got underneath our skin and we didn’t respond individually or collectively.”
The fourth quarter numbers were staggering and showed how bad the Warriors played.
Points: Memphis 39-22
Field goal percentage: Memphis 54-45
Free throws: Memphis 12-17 Golden State 1-2
Points in the paint: Memphis 20-4
2nd Chance points: Memphis 10-2
Fast break points: Memphis 16-3
Turnovers: Golden State 9-2
Points off turnovers: Memphis 13-3
Steals: Memphis 8-1
Fouls: Golden State 11-3
Ellis and Curry combined for six of the nine Golden State turnovers in the fourth. They were also just 1 of 6 shooting in the final minute. The Warriors committed a season-high 24 turnovers, with seven by Ellis. The Grizzlies had no fast break points until the fourth quarter and led for just 1:59 of this game.
“In this league, you think its over and you begin to freestyle and ad-lib,” said Jackson. “All of a sudden, you give a team hope and life. We allowed them to take over this basketball game and we should be embarrassed with this loss.”
The Warriors dropped the first two games of a six-game homestand by a total of four points. It won’t get easier with the Portland Trail Blazers coming to Oracle on Wednesday, followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
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