The Memphis Grizzlies produced a devastating first-quarter scoring spree in a blowout 131-110 victory over the Golden State Warriors in the latest instalment of their rivalry with the NBA champions on Thursday.
The Grizzlies erupted for 48 points in the first period to take a stranglehold on the contest as Golden State’s suspect defense was exposed once more.
Tyus Jones led the Memphis scorers with 22 points while Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. had 21 points apiece as six Grizzlies players finished in double figures.
The emphatic victory was a welcome piece of good news for Memphis after a challenging week.
The Grizzlies were once again without the services of star point guard Ja Morant, who is under investigation by the NBA for posting a video on social media of himself waving a handgun in a strip club.
The win also gave Memphis bragging rights over a Golden State team with whom they have developed an increasingly fractious rivalry in recent seasons.
The Warriors beat the Grizzlies in the Western Conference playoffs last season en route to the NBA title, and the build-up to Thursday’s game had been marked by a war of words between Memphis’ Dillon Brooks and Golden State’s Draymond Green.
The bad blood threatened to spill into Thursday’s clash, with the two men getting into a tense confrontation in the second quarter which ended with them being separated by a referee.
Brooks had stoked controversy last week by voicing his antipathy towards Green and the Warriors, stating: “I don’t like Draymond at all. I just don’t like Golden State. I don’t like anything to do with them.”
Green later returned the fire, declaring on Wednesday: “I quite frankly wouldn’t like a team that beats me all the time either.”
Nevertheless it was Brooks and Memphis who had the last laugh after completing a wire-to-wire victory.
“We’ve had a rough couple of weeks but we’ve got dogs on our team,” Brooks told an on-court interviewer from broadcaster TNT, before adding: “You should give that mic to Draymond so he can keep talking about me and making me play better.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr was left lamenting the first-quarter tactical gamble of starting four guards that saw his team routed.
“We’ve gotten off to bad starts in the last six or seven games so we were looking for a little daylight early in the game,” Kerr said.
“We wanted to get some good shots early, but we didn’t do that. We were impatient and took some really tough, quick shots.
“I think in hindsight we got a little too cute with that. But we are where we are. We took a gamble and it didn’t pay off.”
Elsewhere on Thursday, the Milwaukee Bucks overcame the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo to extend their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 118-113 win over Brooklyn.
Bobby Portis led the Bucks scorers with 28 points while Brook Lopez added 24 and Grayson Allen 19.
The Bucks jumped out to a 22-point lead early in the second quarter but Brooklyn chipped away and got within two points with less than a minute remaining.
Milwaukee held on for victory and now lead the East by 2.5 games from the Boston Celtics with a 48-18 record.
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