By Shawn Whelchel
Draymond Green was candid about his desire to chase history this week when asked about breaking the Chicago Bulls’ record for most wins in a season.
On Saturday, he showed just how serious he was with big plays down the stretch on both ends of the court to secure a hard-fought 100-99 win against the Memphis Grizzlies on the road.
After being down by double digits at multiple points throughout the dwindling fourth quarter, Green would answer the call for the struggling Warriors with a pair of consecutive and-1’s to cut into Memphis’ lead. Green’s presence would be felt again with a tip in off a Steph Curry layup to give the Warriors a one point advantage with just a minute to go, which would ultimately be the difference in the game.
But perhaps just as important as his offensive contributions was Green’s defensive efforts in keeping big-man Zach Randolph from scoring on the Warriors late in the game. Green forced two clutch misses from Randolph late in the game while disallowing Memphis to rely on their biggest scoring threat with the game on the line.
The efforts by Green erased what was at times a 10-point deficit for a Warriors team struggling to find the long-ball that is crucial to their success. Golden State shot just 10-for-36 from the field from beyond the arc on the night, with Curry failing to connect on a three-pointer in the first half.
But with a chance at history on the line, Golden State rose to the occasion with three’s from Curry, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes- whose shot would give the Warriors their first lead of the fourth quarter with just over 90 seconds left in the game.
Lance Stephenson had a chance to win the game for Memphis on a wild drive to the hoop against Klay Thompson, but help from Curry caused an errant layup to be tipped out to the corner, where Stephenson would hoist up a final hail mary shot that would bounce off the side of the hoop to go out of bounds with .8 of a second left, securing the win for Golden State on an inbound pass.
The difference in the game was the play of Memphis’ bench, who would outscore the Golden State reserves by 32-17. The Warriors also found themselves on the other end of the free-throw differential, with Memphis getting to the line for 18 points compared to their 12.
But despite the balanced scoring attack throughout the Memphis lineup, strong nights from the Warriors’ starters in Green (23 points, 11 rebounds), Thompson(20 points), Curry (17 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists) and Barnes (14 points) saved what was a lackluster effort through three quarters for Golden State.
Matt Barnes would lead the scoring for the Grizzlies with 24 points on 17 shots, followed by Vince Carter with 15 points Stephenson with 13 of his own.
The win, which gave them their 71st of the season, was a record in its own right, as the 33 road wins ties the Bulls record for road victories in a single season. Golden State has one chance to claim sole possession of that record with their final road game of the season against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.