By Matthew T.F. Harrington
For the first time all season the Golden State Warriors are staring true adversity in the face. Following a 99-89 loss Saturday night in Memphis, the Warriors now trail the Grizzlies 2-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals.
For the second consecutive contest, the offensive juggernaut that was the Warriors shrank in the face of the bullish Memphis front. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson improved slightly off a dismal 13-for-34 night in Monday’s 97-90 loss at Oracle, combining to score 43 points (Curry 23, Thompson 20).
Curry struggled from the field, hitting 8 of 21 shots. The Most Valuable Player went just 2-of-10 from three-point land. As a team, the Warriors were held to just 6 treys on 26 tries, an identical figure to Monday night.
Memphis center Marc Gasol produced a double-double, scoring 21 while pulling in 15 boards. Fellow Twin Tower Zach Randolph came a pair of rebounds short of his own double-double, dropping 22 points on Golden State. Guard Mike Conley produced only 11 points one game after his game two 22-point return from an orbital bone injury.
While Curry and Thompson produced a more successful performance than their last display, the bigs of Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green struggled. The two came up with a pair of field goals, three free throws and a combined 8 points. Harrison Barnes played a Warriors-topping 40 minutes, scoring 16 in a breakthrough performance that can be viewed as a positive by Golden State fans.
The Warriors were up 15-10 early in the contest but were trailing 55-39 by the half after being outscored 32-19 in the second quarter. Golden State outscored the Grizzlies 50-44 over the final two quarters, but ran out of time to complete the comeback.
The Warriors now face unfamiliar territory heading into Monday night’s game four. It’s the first time on the campaign that the Warriors enter a road game on a two-game losing streak. Golden State lost two consecutive games four times, winning the next game at home all four times to go the entire season without a losing stretch of three games or more.
The Grizzlies pose a formidable threat at home at FedEx Forum where they won 31 games, tied for the fifth-most by a home team this season. Golden State earned the best road record at 28-13.