It had to happen sometime. The Warriors’ winning streak ended after 16 glorious victories, and the team’s first loss in five weeks could’ve gone much worse.
— The Warriors’ winning streak ended at 16 in Memphis, one of the toughest places to play in the NBA.
— It was the team’s third road game in four days and their 10th road game in their last 13.
— They weathered a 20-0 second quarter run from the Grizzlies that featured 37-year-old Vince Carter making multiple threes that didn’t come close to grazing the rim.
— There were excuses galore, thanks to an incredibly odd stretch of officiating that featured Mike Conley taking a few steps and Andre Iguodala creating a new dance step.
— Stephen Curry went 1-for-10 on threes.
— Draymond Green was a good shooting performance away from one of the best games in his life (10 rebounds, six assists, five blocks against arch-nemesis/possible-buddy Zach Randolph), but he went 2-for-11 and missed all four of his three-point attempts.
— Andrew Bogut and David Lee didn’t play due to injury.
Alright, that last point might need to be fleshed out a little. Scoring might not have looked impossible in the first few minutes of the second quarter with Lee in the second unit. The Warriors would’ve had a better chance at slowing Marc Gasol (24 points on 11-of-21 shooting) with Bogut in the lineup. But the Warriors won 16 straight without Lee, and the Warriors are probably going to need to perfect their small-ball skills. Bogut is good at a lot of things: protecting the rim, setting screens, passing … he’s even surprisingly adept at bringing the ball up the floor. He’s also a little too good at explaining his many injuries.
Andrew Bogut is calling his knee injury “Chondromalacia/bone edema.” Chrondromalacia is basically runner’s knee. Edema causes swelling/fluid
— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) December 16, 2014
But we knew all that going into this season. Bogut is not Kareem Abdul-Jabaar. He’s not even Rik Smits, who played at least 74 games in his first seven seasons before getting the reputation as a big guy whose foot problems kept him off the floor a little too often. Bogut is a supremely talented, injury-prone center who the Warriors hope will be around in late April, May and hopefully June.
He will probably not be around during part of that time, if not Golden State’s entire playoff run.
But there’s a lot of season left (seriously, the NBA’s regular season is ridiculously long), and today was a great sign for the Warriors. I’ve written recently about their ability to win games despite playing poorly for stretches — that wasn’t meant to be on the road against a team as big and deep as the Grizzlies, but the Warriors gave Memphis a good scare. On a night where no one would’ve blamed them if they lost by 16 points, they surrendered their streak in the most palatable way possible.
— Average score during the streak: Warriors 109, Opponent 96. Impressive, but probably not that big of a deal since their average score for all 24 games this season is 107-97.
— It’s hard to know how to judge Festus Ezeli’s game. He had three points, five rebounds and a block in 13 minutes, which isn’t too bad. But there was a point early on where he signaled to the bench that he needed to be taken out, either because he got dinged up while defending Gasol or … he got tired? Have to figure he was in some pain, which isn’t great news. He reentered the game a little while later, but only briefly as Steve Kerr went small the rest of the way (for good reason).
— Iguodala went 3-for-9 on threes and scored nine points. It was the fourth time he had attempted at least nine threes in a game.
- 4/16/08: 6-for-11 on threes, 24 points
- 12/7/09: 7-for-11 on threes, 31 points
- 11/4/13: 7-for-11 on threes, 32 points
— Mo Speights with another insanely effective night: 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 26 minutes.
— Shaun Livingston showed off some hops on Tuesday night. He drove baseline and dunked, and finished an alley oop that defied visual logic (it was probably offensive interference, but whatever).
— The Warriors are 21-3, they won 16 games in a row, and they’re only one game ahead of the Grizzlies and 4.5 games ahead of the Spurs, who are currently seventh in the Western Conference. If they have designs on winning a title, Golden State will have to handle many challenges more difficult than a garden variety midseason injury to their starting center.