MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Warriors’ franchise-record 16-game winning streak ended in Memphis, but the team did remain in a good enough mood to decompress with some laughs after its first loss in more than a month.
The Warriors had fallen to the Grizzlies 105-98 on Tuesday, losing their shooting touch along with some composure in a playofflike atmosphere that featured the teams with the best records in the NBA.
Klay Thompson scored 22 points, and Stephen Curry added 19 while going 1 for 10 from 3-point range. The Grizzlies were led by Marc Gasol’s 24 points, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph added 17 apiece, and they were helped by the Warriors being hit with two straight fourth-quarter technical fouls.
The critical moment came when Andre Iguodala was T’d up for playing to the crowd while doing a mocking dance re-enactment of Memphis guard Mike Conley, who wasn’t whistled for traveling while scoring on a layup. Unbeknown to Iguodala, an official saw his dance and didn’t find it so funny. Warriors coach Steve Kerr had already been called for a technical after the play.
Curry, who mimicked Iguodala’s dance in the locker room after the game as his teammates chuckled, didn’t think the loss that dropped the Warriors to 21-3 was the end of the world.
“We understand it was a nice run and something the franchise had never done before,” Curry said. “And it’s put us in good position to obviously take a tough loss like we did tonight and keep moving. We’ll be all right.”
After Memphis’ Courtney Lee hit the two technical foul shots to give the Grizzlies (20-4) a nine-point lead with 3:05 left, the Warriors’ rally fell just short.
Curry scored on a layup to cut the lead to 99-96 with 38.3 seconds left, but the Warriors couldn’t stop Conley from scoring on the other end. Curry finished 9 for 25 from the field while Draymond Green also struggled in scoring four points on 2-for-11 shooting. Combined, the two were 1 for 14 from 3-point range.
“We weren’t able to give him enough space,” Kerr said of Curry, who did have seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. “The biggest problem tonight was our execution offensively. We were scattered. We weren’t moving early in the game.
“That’s what stands out above all with this team is just how gritty they are, how tough they are, even on a night like tonight when we’re not playing that well.”
Playing without injured big men Andrew Bogut and David Lee, the Warriors did what they could against a formidable frontcourt of Gasol and Randolph, who fiercely battled with Green in the paint.
The Warriors went into the second quarter leading 30-24, but then the improbable happened as the Grizzlies bench led Memphis to a 20-0 run. The Grizzlies never gave up that lead that they extended to as many as 14 points.
Vince Carter scored 16 points off the bench, hitting three straight 3-pointers to spark the run that also saw also multiple baskets from Jon Leuer and Beno Udrih.
The Warriors couldn’t silence the sellout crowd of 18,119 with any points in the second quarter until Marreese Speights hit a jump shot after more than five minutes had passed.
But the Warriors would make a run before halftime led by Speights and Thompson, who converted a 4-point play and followed with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 52-49.
It wasn’t enough, but the Warriors will take the start to a season in which they continue to have the league’s best record and a franchise-best start. They won twice on the three-game trip.
“We didn’t expect to win the next 60 games or whatever in a row,” said Green, who notched a career-high five blocked shots.
“We came here and fought. We battled. We got down, we clawed back. We continued to fight, and that’s a great sign. … Hate for the streak to end, but let’s start a new one.”
Said Kerr: “I haven’t thought about the streak really at all other than just kind of enjoying the winning part.”
For more on the Warriors, see the Inside the Warriors blog at www.ibabuzz.com/warriors. Follow Diamond Leung on Twitter at twitter.com/diamond83.
Oklahoma City (12-13) at Warriors (21-3), 7:30 p.m., TNT
Consecutive points scored by the Grizzlies to start the second quarter.