NBA Gameday: Klay questionable against Grizzlies

NBA Gameday: Klay questionable against Grizzlies

Programming note: Warriors-Grizzlies coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

OAKLAND -- The Warriors will be seeking their 10th consecutive home victory Friday night, when they face the Memphis Grizzlies at Oracle Arena.

It’s a contrast of styles, as the Warriors (31-5) play at the third-fastest pace in the NBA, while the Grizzlies (22-16) operate at the third-slowest pace. It worked last month, as Memphis held the Warriors to a season-low 89 points.

Perhaps the only way Memphis, which has lost four of its last five road games, can keep the game close is by slowing the action to a crawl.

Would the veteran Warriors, who may be without Klay Thompson, allow themselves to fall victim to such a trap?


Warriors by 12.5


Stephen Curry vs. Mike Conley. Curry is the back-to-back MVP. Conley is the terrific point guard who never has been an All-Star but owns the league’s biggest contract (five years, $153 million). Each man accepts his role as the catalyst. A big night from Conley practically is a must for the Grizzlies to have a chance at victory.


Warriors: G Klay Thompson (illness) is listed as questionable.

Grizzlies: F JaMychal Green (facial fracture) participated in shootaround and is a game-time decision. F Brandan Wright (L ankle surgery recovery) and C Deyonta Davis (L foot plantar fascia tear) are listed as out.


Warriors: 9-1. Grizzlies: 4-6.


The Warriors had won six in a row before Memphis snapped the streak by taking the previous meeting this season, 110-89, on Dec. 10 at FedEx Forum. The Warriors have won the last four games in Oakland and eight of the last 10 overall.


1) Klay vs. The Grindfather: Grizzlies 2-guard Tony Allen, AKA The Grindfather, is a great on-ball defender, and he takes particular pride in his work against Klay Thompson. Thompson is averaging 10.0 points (on 13-of-34 shooting) in his last three confrontations with Allen. After managing only 14 points in a win over Portland on Wednesday, Klay will be looking to score. If Thompson is able to play, this could get interesting.

2) The Big Men: On paper, this is a mismatch. Memphis center Marc Gasol may be the most skilled center in the NBA. Warriors center Zaza Pachulia is a role player. But . . . he leads all centers in fan voting (it’s early) for the upcoming All-Star Game. Seriously. Pachulia’s task is to bring physicality without fouling.

3) Bring the D: The Grizzlies, quite simply, do not shoot well. They’re dead last in field-goal percentage (42.3 percent) and 28th in points per game. It reasonably solid defensive effort should be enough to spoil any chance for an upset.

Durant building 'Thunder Stopper' reputation after 40-point effort

Durant building 'Thunder Stopper' reputation after 40-point effort

OAKLAND -- Kevin Durant, Thunder Stopper? With a second consecutive magnificent performance in decisive wins over his former Oklahoma City teammates, Durant may be adding a nickname.

Durant on Wednesday night posted his first 40-point game as a Warrior, carrying them to a 121-100 win over the Thunder at Oracle Arena.

He has scored 79 points in two games against OKC, taking only 40 shots to ring up such an impressive total. He was 13-of-16 Wednesday night and 15-of-24 in scoring 39 points in a 122-96 win on Nov. 3 at Oracle.

Though Durant downplayed his production, his coach and teammates were not surprised he has been so good against the team with which he spent nine seasons.

“It’s still kind of fresh, but we can’t deny the history of him with OKC,” Stephen Curry said.

“Every player in the NBA wants to play well against his old team,” coach Steve Kerr said. “For most guys, you feel that extra juice when you play against a team that you played on.”

Durant not only finished with a season-high point total but also added a team-best 12 rebounds, along with four assists and three blocks. He practically stamped his signature on the game.

“My teammates are doing a good job of freeing me up,” said Durant, who drilled 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. “I put the work in and prepared myself for every game. I just happened to knock them down.”

It’s not just that Durant was facing his former team, though. He was, once again, on opposite sides from longtime teammate and erstwhile friend Russell Westbrook. The two have not had much to say to each other since Durant’s decision last July to leave OKC and sign with the Warriors.

Little changed Wednesday night, though the two had a brief exchange in the second half, as Durant headed to the line to shoot a pair of free throws.

Asked if the two have talked, Westbrook said, “Nah,” despite the brief dialogue.

Durant carefully avoided saying anything remotely inflammatory about Westbrook or any of his former teammates.

“It’s good to see everybody,” he said. “Once the ball is tipped, you’re just playing. You’re just hooping. It’s as simple as that. But it’s definitely good to see everybody.”

Durant’s lone lowlight came when he blew a dunk with 1:45 left in the first half, taking flight about 10 feet from the basket and slamming the ball off the back of the rim and nearly to halfcourt.

“I thought I made it,” Durant said, “and then I heard the crowd.

“I was kind of upset. I tried to dunk it too hard, I think. I might have jumped from a little too far out. As I was close to the rim, I felt myself coming down a little earlier than usual.

“But, yeah, I should have made that one. That would have brought the crowd to its feet. But, hopefully, I’ll get another opportunity.”

The crowd was on its feet plenty, as was the case during Durant’s previous display against OKC. The Thunder won’t be back to Oakland this season.

Durant will have another chance to go after his former team and burnish his credentials as a Thunder Stopper when the teams meet on Feb. 11 in Oklahoma City.


Westbrook on Pachulia's flagrant foul: 'I'm going to get his ass back'

Westbrook on Pachulia's flagrant foul: 'I'm going to get his ass back'

Late in the first half of Wednesday's game between the Warriors and Thunder, Russell Westbrook collided with Zaza Pachulia.

Pachulia appeared to hit Westbrook in the face. The Thunder guard hit the floor and rolled around for a few seconds before bouncing back up.

The officials reviewed the play and assessed a flagrant foul on Pachulia.

After the game, Westbrook was asked about his vantage point on the play and he didn't hold back.

"I don't know. He me kind of hard. But it's alright. I'm going to get his ass back. Straight up," Westbrook said.

He was then asked if he noticed Pachulai standing over him.

"I didn't see that until just now, but I don't play that game. I'm going to get his ass back. Whenever that is, I don't know, but I don't play that game," Westbrook said.

Westbrook's comments were brought to Pachulia after the game and the Warriors center offered this rebuttal.

"I can't worry about that kind of comment. I'm part of an amazing team and we have a great goal of winning a championship. I'm all in with my energy, 100 percent. So we're thinking about this team, staying healthy, moving forward, getting better, getting to the playoffs and playing for the championship. That's what I'm thinking about. I'm not thinking about those kind of comments. That team is not there, so they may be thinking about other stuff like getting me back. Okay, you can get me back. But again, it's my 14th year, we all know what my game is, to play hard, not dirty. If it was a hard foul, it was a hard foul. It wasn't dirty at all. I'm not worried about this," Pachulia told the media.

Westbrook will get that chance on February 11 when the Warriors travel to Oklahoma City.