Brooks staggered back, falling over in the process. As Thompson ran defensively, he leaned over Brooks, shuffling sideways three times as he thrust his tongue into Brooks’ face.
“Some good old fashioned trash talk,” Thompson said. “It’s always fun to talk trash. We’ve been doing that since we were in high school. You usually play your best or you get tired. For me, it usually comes first.”
Heading into the Warriors’ 123-109 Christmas Day win over the Memphis Grizzlies, both sides were hesitant to call the relationship between them a rivalry.
Sure, they have a brief history: The Grizzlies knocked out the Warriors in the play-in tournament in 2021, and the Warriors finished Memphis’ season last year in the Western Conference semifinals. There has been a lot of trash talk between the two teams in recent months. But there isn’t enough for a full-blown rivalry, they said.
However, their first meeting this season felt like the next chapter in what is a very real rivalry (in the making).
“It’s definitely picking up steam,” Kerr said. “[But] to really develop a rivalry, there has to be multiple playoff series. Last year’s series was highly contested and heated. We know how good they are, and we’re trying to keep it going. They are trying to throw us off the mountain.”
Several days before Christmas, the Memphis point guard I dwellThe 23-year-old told ESPN that he didn’t see any team in the Western Conference as a threat. He named only the Boston Celtics as a threat to the Grizzlies’ title aspirations.
Thompson, who scored 24 points, said he did not see that interview or Morant’s comments. And unlike 10 years ago, when Thompson, 32, was early in his career, he said outside trash talk doesn’t affect him.
Trash talk is nothing new between these two particular teams.
Kerr said the Grizzlies broke the code when Brooks was injured Gary Payton II in the Western Conference semifinals. Jackson Jr. years he mocked the Warriors’ “Strength of Numbers” catchphrase, and Thompson subsequently called him a “fucking bum” and a “clown”. In June, Morant called this Christmas Day showdown on Twitter.
During his postgame interview on ESPN on Sunday, Thompson said: “They were talking about dynasty and all that. You can’t talk about dynasty when you haven’t won before… I thought it was a premature conversation to even mention that word. But they bring out the best in us, and I think we do the same.”
The dynasty comment Thompson was referring to was when Brooks said Memphis was in the process of building a dynasty in March 2022 after their last regular-season meeting.
Sunday’s game brought out the best in the Warriors or at least much better than their previous two games: two 30-plus point losses, at the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, to close out a 1-5 road trip.
The Warriors’ jordan poole he scored a team-high 32 points on 11-of-25 shooting from the field and was 7-of-8 from the free-throw line before being ejected for committing two technical fouls.
Golden State forward dramond green he had what Kerr considers a quintessential Draymond Green game, finishing with 13 rebounds, 13 assists and just three points. It was the fifth pointless double-double of Green’s career, good for second all-time in the category, behind Jason Kidd (25). No other player has more than eight.
The Warriors’ December 10 victory over the Celtics had a similar feel to this, and the Warriors had said they could use that game as a model to guide them.
The common thread that the Warriors said they see between the Celtics game and the Christmas game is their decision making. In both games, the Warriors didn’t force shots or make quick decisions that led to errors. And as they navigate the next two weeks (at least) without Stephen Curry (shoulder), there is an even smaller margin of error.
Still, there was room for improvement against the Grizzlies. Golden State picked up six technical fouls. The last three plays at the end of the first half were a turnover by Poole, Thompson fouling a 3-point shooter, and a technical foul by Poole. In the fourth quarter, the Warriors committed four different fouls (taking, personal, and technical fouls) in two seconds.
Even with those more sloppy moments, the Warriors knew they wanted, and needed, to make a statement game.
“They’re talented, we’re talented, we’re experienced, and we’re trying to keep these young guys at bay as much as we can,” Thompson said. “It was a good night to send them a message because you never know who you’re going to see on the road. This team is a potential team that we could play in the playoffs. So every time we play them, there are always fireworks. “