Warriors 116, Grizzlies 104
Baron Davis scored 31 points and had nine assists to lead Golden State to a 116-104 victory over the Grizzlies on Friday night.
The Warriors’ fourth straight victory keeps them in the hunt for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Warriors trail the eighth-place Los Angeles Clippers by one game.
But it took a halftime rant from coach Don Nelson and an offensive burst down the stretch from the Warriors’ key players to keep their postseason hopes on track.
“This was a game we had to win,” Nelson said. “That’s the way I felt.”
The victory Friday night was the second straight road win for Golden State, which plays at San Antonio on Saturday.
“It’s our second road win,” Nelson said. “It gives us a free swing at San Antonio. You didn’t want to lose here and go to San Antonio on a back-to-back.”
Tarence Kinsey led six Grizzlies in double figures with a career-high 28 points. Pau Gasol had 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Chucky Atkins and Rudy Gay finished with 15 points each. Gay added 10 rebounds as Memphis lost its fourth straight, and has dropped eight of 10.
“We couldn’t come up with enough plays on offense,” Gasol said. “They made some big 3s and made a run when they needed to.”
This is the latest in the season Golden State has been in the playoff hunt since 1998-99. The Warriors’ last postseason appearance was in 1993-94, when they were swept in three games by the Phoenix Suns.
“I was glad we had a rough game,” Jackson said. “(Golden State) has not made the playoffs in a while. We’re trying to do something big. It’s not going to be easy. We’re going to have to work for it.”
Memphis led 90-85 with just under 10 minutes remaining. But Golden State scored the next seven points, and Memphis never led again as the Warriors continued to extend the lead down the stretch. Davis had 10 of his points in the fourth, while Ellis scored nine. The two guards were a combined 5-of-7 from the field and 8-of-9 from the line in the period.
The Warriors said Nelson’s halftime talk was necessary to make sure they were focused on getting out of Memphis with a win.
“We needed that at the time because we weren’t penetrating and doing things we normally do. We needed him to do that to get us going,” Ellis said.
Golden State led 61-60 at the half behind 15 points by Davis.
While Memphis hit its first three shots, it was apparent early the Warriors were outrunning the Grizzlies. Golden State, which averages a league-leading 20.6 points off the break, held an 11-0 advantage in the category for the first quarter, and almost surpassed its average with 18 fast-break points in the half, aided by 13 Memphis turnovers.
The turnovers hurt almost as much as Memphis not getting back on defense or losing Warriors on the break.
Memphis continued to play short-handed with starters Mike Miller and Damon Stoudamire sitting out another game with knee injuries. The injuries are just another part of a dismal season for the Grizzlies, who were in the playoffs the past three seasons.
“All we can do is just go out there, compete, play hard, play with our hearts and play for our pride,” Gasol said.
As for Golden State, the playoffs remain in sight.
“We’re focused. We’ve got our eye on the prize,” Jackson said. “This was a must-win. … We wanted to get two our of three. (Saturday), we’ve got a chance to get three out of three. We’re definitely happy.”
Kinsey, an undrafted rookie forward from South Carolina, has scored in double figures in the past eight games. … Nelson asked officials to ease up on foul calls in the second quarter. “You can’t call a foul every time they go to the basket,” Nelson said to official Sean Corbin. “They’ve shot about 45 free throws.” At that point, Memphis had been to the line 24 times. … Nelson eventually would say enough in the third quarter to draw a technical from Corbin. … Corbin ejected Atkins with back-to-back technicals when Atkins argued a no call with about 8 minutes left. … Warriors reserve C/F Andris Biedrins injured his left ankle in the third period, but returned to start the fourth quarter. … Golden State had lost five straight in Memphis, the Warriors last road win against the Grizzlies coming on Feb. 25, 2004.