Stephen Curry spectacular in return as Warriors beat Grizzlies, 141-128

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry celebrates in front of fans after scoring against the Memphis Grizzlies during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)(Photo: Jeff Chiu, AP)

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OAKLAND, Calif – His jog down the sideline in front of fans sitting courtside said it all.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry just connected on a 3-pointer and began shimmying to celebrate the play. Curry had fun Saturday night at the Grizzlies’ expense in his return from an 11-game absence due to an ankle injury.  

The game was Curry’s first since Dec. 4 and he showed absolutely no rust in helping the Warriors light up the scoreboard while handing the Grizzlies a 141-128 loss in Oracle Arena.

Curry finished with 38 points that included 10 3-pointers. He passed Portland’s Damian Lillard for the most 3-point baskets in a game this season.

Curry didn’t ease into the return, often calling for the basketball and launching long-distance shots on the move. Curry manufactured his point total in just 26 minutes.

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Memphis Grizzlies guard Kobi Simmons (2) shoots next to Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)  Jeff Chiu, AP Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans shoots in front of Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)  Jeff Chiu, AP Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) gestures after scoring during the first half of the team‘s NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)  Jeff Chiu, AP Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, bottom, tries to hold on to the ball under Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, left, and guard Stephen Curry during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)  Jeff Chiu, AP Memphis Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff gestures during the first half of the team‘s NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)  Jeff Chiu, AP Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry celebrates in front of fans after scoring against the Memphis Grizzlies during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)  Jeff Chiu, AP Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) is guarded by Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) and forward Draymond Green during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)  Jeff Chiu, AP

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Here are five other quick thoughts from the game.

First-half shootout

Memphis held its own in the first half by scoring 67 points — the most its scored in any half this season. In addition to shooting 51 percent, the Grizzlies took care of the basketball and shared it to create good scoring balance. The Grizzlies didn’t have a turnover in the opening period and turned the ball over just twice in the second. But the Warriors, who were energized by Curry’s return, wouldn’t be outdone. They shot 67 percent and posted 78 points before halftime. The Warriors output tied a Grizzlies opponent for the most points scored in a half. The other time Memphis allowed that many points in a half was against the Golden State on March 24, 2010, in Oracle Arena.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Kobi Simmons (2) shoots next to Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) (Photo: Jeff Chiu, AP)

Kobi shined again

Rookie guard Kobi Simmons was largely responsible for the Grizzlies going toe-to-toe with the Warriors in the first half. He played confidently and decisively with the basketball. Simmons continued to prove he can contribute with good decision-making on offense and defensive energy.

Defense lacking for both teams

The Warriors devoured the Grizzlies’ defense with several backdoor cuts in around the basket. Memphis appeared confused in its pick-and-roll coverage. But the Grizzlies remained consistent with their offensive execution, becoming just the second team to shoot shot 50 percent against the Warriors this season.  

Gasol efficient in reaching milestone

Griz center Marc Gasol  (10,271) became the Grizzlies’ all-time leading scorer, passing Mike Conley (10,255). He made seven of his first nine shots and scored 19 of his 27 points in the first half. Gasol took advantage of his inside-out game, working over the Warriors big men in the paint and then punishing them with four 3-pointers.  

Griz shuffled injured players

JaMychal Green returned and started after recovering from a sore knee. The Grizzlies also had Brandan Wright (quad). But Chandler Parsons didn’t play because of right knee soreness. Parsons normally doesn’t play in back-to-back games. But he didn’t sit for rest so it is unclear whether Parsons will play Sunday in Sacramento.

Quotes of note

Curry on his performance: “You sit and watch for 11 games and just wonder what it’s going to be like to be out there and finally I got the opportunity. I didn’t know what to expect. I just wanted to get some good reps, get up and down, see how my wind was and know I shot it well. But my body felt way better than I expected.”

Simmons on his progress: “I’m taking what the defense gives me, playing within the offense and just being more confident. Like I once said before, the more minutes I get and the more time I get playing with the guys, I feel more comfortable. That’s what that was.”

Gasol on defending the Warriors: “We didn’t take anything away, and at times in the game, we were giving up wide-open layups. We needed to be a little more disciplined and obviously a little more physical on the ball and take things away… If we’re trying to be a really good team, we have to play better defense.”

Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff on Curry: “I’m not surprised. A guy that works that hard and when his game has grown as much as his game has grown, you don’t expect there to be a huge setback. He’s a unique weapon. There’s not many guys that can shoot it the way that he can, and you don’t lose that. It’s not a surprise. It just goes to the dedication of his game.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Curry’s return: “What can you say? The guy goes 10-of-13 (from three) after not playing in an NBA game for a month. The other team went 15-of-21 (from three) so even they were hot. Steph makes everybody shoot better I think. It’s crazy. That was remarkable.” 

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON Griz guard Wayne Selden after loss to Clippers | 1:35

Grizzlies guard Wayne Selden talks about how the game got away from them Tuesday in a loss to the Clippers. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON Marc Gasol on Grizzlies offense | 1:22

Grizzlies center Marc Gasol describes how the offense has improved. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON Marc Gasol on facing Zach Randolph | 1:48

Grizzlies center Marc Gasol describes what it was like to play against Zach Randolph Sunday night.

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON Kobi Simmons on entering rotation | 0:41

Grizzlies guard Kobi Simmons talks about his approach to suddenly playing in the rotation. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON Tyreke Evans on final play in loss vs Suns | 1:16

Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans describes the final seconds of a 97-95 loss to the Suns after missing a potential game-winning 3-pointer as the final buzzer sounded. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON JaMychal Green after Griz ended losing streak | 1:33

Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green talks to the media after they snapped an 11-game losing streak. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON Mike Conley on Achilles rehab | 2:23

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley describes the rehabilitation process for his sore left Achilles. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON Mike Conley on Fizdale firing | 3:09

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley talks about his reaction to coach David Fizdale‘s firing. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON Griz GM Chris Wallace on firing Coach David Fizdale | 2:25

Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace talks about why he fired Coach David Fizdale. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON David Fizdale out as Memphis Grizzlies coach | 0:51

ESPN first reported that Memphis Grizzlies had let David Fizdale go Monday afternoon. Autumn Allison/USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON Griz coach Fiz on impact of Conley's absence | 2:18

Grizzlies coach David Fizdale describes what Mike Conley‘s absence will mean. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON Ben McLemore after Grizzlies debut | 1:57

Grizzlies guard Ben McLemore describes his performance in a loss to the Houston Rockets. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON Chandler Parsons after big night | 2:50

Forward Chandler Parsons describes his breakout performance in a Grizzlies uniform. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON Dillon Brooks after NBA debut | 1:06

Grizzlies rookie Dillon Brooks reacts to having an impressive performance in his first NBA regular-season game. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON Chandler Parsons addresses FedExForum boos | 1:44

Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons says the fans booing him were tasteless. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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CLOSEVIDEOS: GRIZZLIES 2017-18 SEASON JaMychal Green talks about his new deal | 1:38

Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green says he‘s ‘blessed‘ to receive a two-year, $16 million contract. Ronald Tillery/The Commercial Appeal

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  • Griz guard Wayne Selden after loss to Clippers
  • Marc Gasol on Grizzlies offense
  • Marc Gasol on facing Zach Randolph
  • Kobi Simmons on entering rotation
  • Tyreke Evans on final play in loss vs Suns
  • JaMychal Green after Griz ended losing streak
  • Mike Conley on Achilles rehab
  • Mike Conley on Fizdale firing
  • Griz GM Chris Wallace on firing Coach David Fizdale
  • David Fizdale out as Memphis Grizzlies coach
  • Griz coach Fiz on impact of Conley's absence
  • Ben McLemore after Grizzlies debut
  • Chandler Parsons after big night
  • Dillon Brooks after NBA debut
  • Chandler Parsons addresses FedExForum boos
  • JaMychal Green talks about his new deal

 

 

 

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