Monday's game showed exactly why first-year coach Mark Jackson still believes the Warriors are a playoff team, as they dominated a legit contender in Memphis.
Monday's game also showed why some think Jackson is crazy for such belief. Golden State squandered a 20-point lead in an epic collapse, losing 91-90.
"First thing that comes to mind," forward Dorell Wright said, "is unacceptable."
The loss was more than just the Warriors' third straight at home -- and third overall. It was an indictment on their proclaimed progress and a serious blow to the lofty predictions made by Jackson and the ownership.
Golden State -- now 0-6 against Western Conference teams -- did everything it could to lose to the Grizzlies, including turning it over 24 times. Monta Ellis had a game-high seven turnovers to go with 20 points and five assists.
The Warriors have now lost seven games in which they led, were tied or were within five points to start the fourth quarter.
"We controlled the game for 36 minutes," Stephen Curry said after totaling 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and five turnovers. "The turnovers and rebounds killed us. It was poor decisions by the guys who are supposed to be running the offense.
"We had control of the game, and they started to make a run and we kind of tightened up. No excuses. We needed to win that game."
Memphis scored 39 points in the fourth quarter -- 16 of those came on fast breaks that were
Smelling blood, Memphis -- which won its seventh straight and now owns the fifth-best record in the conference -- attacked the Warriors on both ends. That explains why the Grizzlies scored 20 points in the paint and 12 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Golden State settled for jumpers. The Warriors took just six shots in the paint over the final 12 minutes. They took eight 3-pointers, making three.
"In the fourth quarter," Memphis' Tony Allen said, "those long balls turn into low-percentage shots."
Golden State appeared to be cruising to a comfortable win. A dunk by Brandon Rush, off a pretty pass from Wright, put the Warriors ahead 63-43 with 3:32 left in the third quarter. Memphis called a timeout, Oracle Arena was rocking, and the Warriors were feeling good having their largest lead of the season.
They entered the fourth quarter up 68-52.
But before you knew it, the advantage was trimmed to 78-64 inside of seven minutes left after a dunk by the Grizzlies' Rudy Gay, who finished with 23 points and nine rebounds.
Before long, Golden State's lead was down to 78-72 after O.J. Mayo capped an 11-0 Grizzlies run with a three-point play at the 4:52 mark.
"You think it's over and you begin to freestyle and ad-lib and, all of a sudden, you give a team hope and life," Jackson said. "When we started that fourth quarter, we could've knocked them out and they would've been ready to play their bench guys and surrender.—
Golden State led 85-82 after Curry's jumper was followed by two free throws from Memphis' Mike Conley. Then a Curry turnover produced an Allen layup.
Golden State's lead was down to 85-84.
Another Warriors turnover, this time by Rush, led to another Memphis layup, this time by Conley. The Warriors were trailing 86-85 with 1:23 left.
They were down and needed to make some winning plays.
They couldn't do it.
The Warriors missed three straight jumpers, and Gay responded by drilling a fadeaway to put Memphis ahead 88-85 with 22.6 seconds left. Ellis squandered the next possession by forcing a contested 3-pointer.
"It's disappointing because we're a team that needed a win," Jackson said. "We have to realize you have to play every possession. We've got to learn to keep our foot on the gas pedal at all times."
By the time they checked out, with 3:12 left in the first half, the lead had grown to 15 points.
The Warriors' bench outscored Memphis' reserves 31-11.