How the Warriors outwitted and beat the Grizzlies on Christmas Day

SAN FRANCISCO — Perhaps the biggest play of the Warriors’ 123-109 Christmas win over the grizzlies He arrived while half the crowd was still returning from the concourse. It was the first possession of the second half. Jackson Jr. years was guarding dramond greengiving Green the green light to go foul hunting.

The Warriors controlled the first half, winning as many as 16 points. But a 6-0 Tyus Jones run in the final 27 seconds cut Memphis’ deficit to five. The Grizzlies had momentum coming out of the locker room, but they also had an elite rim-protecting center who couldn’t stay on the floor in the first half because of three quick fouls. To hold the Warriors down, they needed Jackson to guard against a fourth whistle.

No one knew this better than Green, a hoop genius who focuses particularly during big matchups. He knew Jackson’s foul total, importance to the Grizzlies Y his maddening tendency to reach at times when he shouldn’t. Then, eight seconds after the half, Green walked up for a typical dribbling handoff with Donte Di Vincenzohe saw Jackson’s long arm reach into nearby airspace and gave himself a quick audible pop into a fake DHO dive, flailing on Jackson’s arm.

Whistle. Green got what he was looking for and immediately held up four fingers to the Memphis bench, alerting the Grizzlies that it was time to take Jackson out of the game. Here is the video.

The nba he timed this matchup for one of his most high-profile Christmas matchups in part because of a mutual disdain that neither party can hide. It’s a healthy interplay between a confident and rising young contender obsessed with taking the established champion off the block.

Memphis’ core is younger, longer and more dynamic and has had games in which he has physically overwhelmed the older, slower Warriors. But like the entirety of that six-game second-round series won seven months ago, the Warriors seem to outplay the Grizzlies with their brains, beating them in the fringe ways that have always made champion champions. Green’s taunt on a Jackson foul is one small example in a game full of them.

“They have talent” klay thompson said. “We are talented. We are experienced.

This is shaping up to be a terrible time for the Warriors to get a motivated Grizzlies team, finally healthy after Desmond BaneRecent return of . steph curry will miss at least a couple more weeks and Andrew Wiggins he played his 10th straight game, recovering from a groin injury that coach Steve Kerr acknowledged has lingered longer than expected.

But, more easily said in hindsight, it may actually turn out to be the perfect time for the Warriors to have lured the Grizzlies. They reeled home from a 1-5 trip that left them 15-18 on the season, and they needed a sure-fire performance to fuel a crucial eight-game homestand as they try to stay afloat long enough for Curry. return.

Green, listed as questionable with foot pain, looked good physically and brought his typical approach to a big stage. Directing much of the action, he had 13 rebounds, 13 assists and typical technique for him. Thompson didn’t shoot well, but he was physical on defense and spent the night barking at the Grizzlies, punctuated by the memorable taunt of a stumble. dillon brooks after Thompson buried a jumper to basically seal the win.

“Just good old fashioned trash talk,” Thompson said. “I didn’t think it warranted a technique, but I forgot about the taunting rule.”

jordan poole played the most important role of the night. To beat Memphis’ defensive length and activity, you need a shot-maker and creator. Without Curry and Wiggins, the Warriors are basically left with Poole, who was coming off a tough end on the recent road trip.

Poole scored 17 points in the first quarter, fighting through Brooks’ physicality, over Jackson’s long and backdoor behind the Grizzlies’ overplay scheme to score on a variety of 3-pointers, midrangers and floaters. He scored 32 points in 29 minutes early in the fourth quarter. But that’s also when he looked at official Marc Davis after a no-call and received a second technical, leading to an automatic ejection. It was Poole’s eighth technique of the season.

“He knows he can’t get a second one,” Kerr said. “He is still a young player. Jordan was fantastic tonight. We needed offensive firepower from him. The great thing about Jordan is that I still think he’s a level or two away from really getting to the point where he’s reaching his ceiling. That meant playing with aplomb, whether it was avoiding the referees or guarding the ball. But he’s doing a great job competing and helping us stay afloat.”

Bane hit the free throw after Poole’s ejection, cutting the Warriors’ lead to 16 with 9:20 to play. Without context, that margin looks comfortable, but it felt vulnerable without Curry, Wiggins and Poole given the lack of bench muscle the Warriors have displayed most of the season.

But that’s what’s different and encouraging about this game for them. The focused veterans led, but the young group behind them followed. Kerr went to a lineup that included jonathan kuminga, grumpy moses Y james wiseman Late in the first quarter, and within a span of five minutes, the Warriors actually increased their lead by two points against one of the deepest teams in the league.

Kerr brought them back into the rotation in the second half, and all three lottery picks put up productive minutes. Moody scored 10 points and hit a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter after Poole was sent off. It was a plus-2. Kuminga worked his way to eight free throws. He was a plus-21. Wiseman didn’t even attempt a shot in his eight minutes, but he delivered probably the best defensive stretch of his early career.

After Wiseman’s run in the first half, Kerr came over to cheer him on, even letting him know his only negative: “The foul was bulls…”

“He was great defensively,” Kerr said of Wiseman. “Great. Patrolling the paint. Staying between the ball and the basket, but still being able to cover the rolling man.”

Kerr, in a lengthy interview in New York last week, went into more detail about the development of Wiseman (and Kuminga and Moody). you can read that here.

But these are the types of enhanced possessions that Kerr is referring to. In a 10-second clip, he racks up multiple pick-and-roll actions and gets to the weak side to contest a shot.

Or how about this for an uplifting sequence for the Warriors front office and coaching staff? Kuminga opens the I dwell. The Grizzlies block it for Morant to attack Wiseman. Kuminga recognizes him and gets back into the play in time to stop Morant’s baseline drive. Wiseman acknowledges and moves back into position to still protect the rim. Morant dribbles a pass out of bounds.

Donte DiVincenzo hit two huge 3-pointers in the first quarter, had five total and scored 19 points, continuing his rise. antonio cordero he made three 3-pointers in the first half. you jerome he had what Kerr called the biggest sequence of the night, hitting three consecutive jumpers in a span of 65 seconds to give the Warriors the separation they needed. They’re getting useful production out of their two two-way contract players.

It all came together for a second win in their last two home games. The Warriors are 16-18, but they beat the celts pretty convincingly without Wiggins and just beat the Grizzlies without Curry and Wiggins, taunting them the whole time. Those were his two biggest threats in the playoffs a season ago. None of the rivals, in advantageous scenarios, have yet to solve them.

“I just challenged the guys to build on that,” Kerr said. “We have seven straight home games to come. We’ve been very good at home, but we haven’t really built a lot of momentum this year. It’s been kind of stops and starts. So it looks like it’s time to turn it up.”

(Photo of Draymond Green driving against Jaren Jackson Jr.: Darren Yamashita / USA Today)

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