As hard as wins have come for Warriors coach Don Nelson this season, it assuredly would have been nice for him to get an easy one.
But while the 128-110 win over Memphis on Wednesday might've looked easy, the host Warriors made sure to put a little stress into it.
Nelson is now four wins away from becoming the winningest coach in NBA history, as he's three regular-season victories behind Lenny Wilkens. In this one, the Warriors got up by 27 points, only to see the lead trimmed to low double-digits, taking away any chance of the Warriors coasting all the way.
"It was different," smiling rookie guard Stephen Curry said of the Warriors' rare large lead. "We didn't exactly know how to handle it."
Still, the Warriors (20-51) snapped their three-game losing streak and have won three of their past five home games.
Golden State has four home games left, only one against a team under .500 (New York). They have seven road games left, four are against teams not heading to the postseason.
Curry led the Warriors with 30 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and four steals, overshadowing his seven turnovers. It was his seventh 30-point game of the season. Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans, the front-runner for Rookie of the Year, has four 30-point games.
It was Curry who led the Warriors when they finally put the Grizzlies away.
After a 3-pointer from the left corner by Memphis guard O.J. Mayo at the 5:49 mark of the fourth
You would've thought Memphis was pulling away. Instead, Mayo's 3 cut the Warriors' lead to 14.
"He was just lighting a fire under us," Curry said of Nelson's reaction. "I think it worked."
Curry came out of the timeout and nailed a pull-up jumper. He then assisted on the next three Warriors' baskets, the last a sneaky pass in the lane to a cutting Anthony Tolliver for a dunk. Golden State led 124-108 with just over three minutes left. Victory No. 1,329 was in the bag for Nelson.
It didn't always look that way.
The Warriors led 78-56 at the half. It was the most points they've scored in a half this season. It was the most Memphis has allowed in a half in franchise history. It was the Warriors' largest halftime lead this season.
Golden State built its lead pretty much with six players. Tolliver sat most of the half with foul trouble, and Nelson didn't put guard Anthony Morrow in until the final minute of the half.
But the Warriors put a scare in Nelson in the third. It took Memphis just 3:15 to cut the Warriors' halftime lead in half. A three-point play by Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph made it 78-67 Warriors with 8:45 left in the third quarter.
But the Grizzlies got no closer. The Warriors pushed their lead back to 20 when guard C.J. Watson nailed a 3-pointer from the right corner in the final seconds of the third, giving the Warriors a 103-83 advantage.
With 1:08 left, Nelson finally took out guard Monta Ellis, who finished with 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Finally, Nelson relaxed.
"I like it that way," Curry said of the big lead. "Better than having to claw our way back."
Notes: The Warriors have lost 425 games due to injury this season. It was almost 426 as Ellis nearly sat out because of flu-like symptoms. ... Center Chris Hunter finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, his first double-double of the season. He helped the Warriors out-rebound Memphis, which played without center Marc Gasol (torn neck muscle) 45-41 and hold All-Star power forward Zach Randolph to 16 points. Nelson: "I thought the real key was Chris Hunter." ... Swingman Reggie Williams had 23 points off the bench, matching the production of all of Memphis' reserves combined.
Mavericks, 7:30 p.m.