Grizzlies 95, Warriors 85
Williams scored 13 of his 17 points during a decisive third-quarter run in the Grizzlies’ fifth straight victory, 95-85 over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.
Bonzi Wells had 18 points for the Grizzlies, who have won 14 of 17 to move within a half-game of Dallas for fifth place in the Western Conference playoff race.
Memphis has been one of the NBA’s most impressive teams since early January, and while coach Hubie Brown points to the little things—deflections, passing and substitution patterns—it’s clear the Grizzlies thrive when their point guard is at the top of his flamboyant game.
“Jason Williams put on a spectacular shooting show,” Brown said. “He gave us a lot of lift, because we were doing a lot of good things, but he was making it happen for us. When he performs like that, he gives everyone else on the team that extra zip.”
Memphis fell behind by 12 in the third quarter before making a dynamic 30-7 run. Williams led the way with his inimitable showmanship, starting with an astonishing behind-the-back fake before a layup. Williams also hit three 3-pointers in the run, causing headaches for the three defenders Golden State used against him.
“It amazes me every time I see it,” Wells said of Williams’ skill. “You shouldn’t be able to do the things with the basketball that he does. It’s crazy.”
The Grizzlies won their franchise-record fourth straight road game despite playing without injured starters Lorenzen Wright and Mike Miller. Memphis, which beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, plays six of its next seven games at home.
“It’s exciting for our team to come out and win all four games on the road trip,” Brown said. “Every one of the games was decided by our defense from the middle of the third quarter until the end of the game.”
Jason Richardson scored 17 points and Clifford Robinson had 15 for the Warriors, who have lost five straight without injured point guards Speedy Claxton and Nick Van Exel. Erick Dampier had 13 points and 11 rebounds in his fourth strong game of the season against the Grizzlies, who attempted to acquire him at the trade deadline.
“It is a dilemma right now without a point guard,” Warriors coach Eric Musselman said. “There is no question that we’re struggling against defensive pressure and in handling the ball. The guys are trying, but it remains difficult without a true point guard.”
Claxton had a career-high 28 points in a victory at Memphis on Feb. 25—but he also broke a bone in his hand in the opening minutes, keeping him out of the lineup ever since. The Warriors are floundering without their point guards, losing three straight home games in the last six days.
And it gets worse: Starting with Tuesday’s game at first-place Sacramento, Golden State has four road games in five nights.
Golden State had a strong first half, but the Grizzlies hit two buzzer-beating shots, including Earl Watson’s 48-footer as time expired in the first quarter. The shots kept Memphis from facing a deficit much larger than Golden State’s 54-46 halftime lead.
“Things were going well,” said Mike Dunleavy, who had 13 points and seven rebounds. “I don’t know what happened, if they figured us out or what. … It’s tough (guarding Williams). He’s smaller, quicker, and he can shoot anddrive. It’s a tough matchup. What can you do?”
The Grizzlies put Wright on the injured list Saturday with a sprained knee. Jake Tsakalidis had three points in Wright’s starting spot, including the 1,000th point of his career. … Memphis won three of four in the season series. … Williams hit the 700th 3-pointer of his career. … Miller missedhis ninth straight game with back spasms.