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The Memphis Grizzlies looked pretty good through 12 minutes of Monday night's road game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Up 22-21 after one quarter, Memphis appeared capable of grinding out a win against the team that eliminated them from last year's postseason. It would stand as a notable achievement for a Memphis squad that bounced back from an opening-night blowout loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers with two wins in a row.
Things didn't go quite so well for the Grizzlies over the next three quarters — in fact, it turned into their worst-ever loss over both the Memphis and Vancouver eras of the franchise. Golden State out-scored Memphis 72-27 (!!!) over the second and third quarters and added another six points to the margin in garbage time for a 119-69 victory for the third 50-point win in Warriors history. The Grizzlies added to their franchise-worst losing margin by setting another franchise low with 27.1 percent shooting from the field (26-of-96).
The Warriors dominated due to many factors, but there was clearly one big star of the night. It was not surprisingly Stephen Curry, newly crowned Western Conference Player of the Week and downright terrifying basketball presence. Curry scored 21 of his game-high 30 points in the third quarter, making it three times in four games with a 20-point period. That's even more impressive considering that just one other player has logged a 20-point quarter over the season's first week.
Curry's performances have reached the realm of the ludicrous. Just take a look at these efficiency stats over Golden State's 4-0 start:
The Curry count this season: 148 points in 127 minutes on 84 shots
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) November 3, 2015
Curry's level of play would likely register as even more impressive if not for the fact that the other Warriors continue to match his greatness with excellent showings up and down the roster. There's an argument to be made that Draymond Green was their best player on the night, scoring 11 points on very good shooting (4-of-7 FG, 3-of-4 4FG) along with eight assists, nine rebounds, three blocks, and his customarily excellent defense on bigger players to neutralize the Grizzlies' apparent advantage inside. Or maybe that matchup was mistaken to begin with, because fill-in starting center Festus Ezeli put in 11 points and 10 boards with a plus-37 in just 20 minutes.
The list could go on and on. It all adds up to some impressive milestones — the Warriors set a franchise record for consecutive home wins with 20 (besting a mark set last season) and set an NBA record for the highest margin of victory (plus-100) through the first four games of the season. Any offseason doubts about their ability to repeat seem to have been answered much earlier than anyone thought possible.
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Courtside fan Vin Diesel certainly liked it:
Courtside Grizzlies Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, and Courtney Lee did not:
This result would concern any team, but it should be especially startling to a Grizzlies squad that lost by 30 to the Cavs at home on opening night. Monday's blowout came on the first night of a five-game road trip that will see the Grizzlies face three teams (the Kings, Blazers, and Jazz) that would normally register as likely wins. But the Grizzlies continue to run out a very one-dimensional, off-trend offense that struggles to shoot from outside (3-of-23 from deep vs. the Warriors) and end opposing runs before they get out of hand. The results in these next four games could set expectations for the rest of the season.
The Warriors know their goal and now appear to be the clear favorites to repeat as champions. Wednesday matchup with the also-undefeated Los Angeles Clippers should go a long way towards determining just how close the conference's other contenders are to unseating them at the top of the league.
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