The Memphis Grizzlies paid a visit to Chase Center on Christmas Day, demanding a place at the NBA Christmas dinner table. The first-time invitees were refused service by their hosts and were sent home disappointed after suffering a 123-109 spanking by the Golden State Warriors.
The Grizzlies have made it known after the losing to the Warriors in last season’s Western Conference Semifinals; the NBA franchise from the banks of the Mississippi are coming to claim the Larry O’Brien Trophy off the defending champions.
When Dillon Brooks was asked about Stephen Curry’s absence from the teams’ upcoming Christmas Day rematch, he made it clear he still remembers some of the trash talk that took place in the spring.
Brooks ‘broke the code’ according to Warriors head coach Steve Kerr when he made an unsportsmanlike and unnecessary foul on Gary Payton II that left the guard with a fractured elbow during last season’s playoffs. Immediately following the Warriors’ championship victory, Klay Thompson made sure to remind Jaren Jackson Jr. of his tweet from earlier that season.
"“Strength in numbers is alive and well. There was this one player on the Grizzlies who tweeted ‘Strength in numbers’ after they beat us in the regular season, and it pissed me off so much. I had to watch that. I’m like, ‘This freakin’ clown.’ I can’t wait to retweet that thing—Freakin’ bum. Sorry, that memory just popped up. Going to mock us? You ain’t ever been there before. We’ve been there before, and we know what it takes. So to be here again, hold that!”"
The NBA Christmas showcase was marred by technical fouls called on both teams. Six were assessed on the Warriors, with Jordan Poole and his team-high 32 points ejected early in the fourth-quarter. The highlight of the constant chirping was the taunting rant Thompson delivered to Brooks as he laid on his back.
But aside from the verbal back-and-forth, it was truly a ‘Strength in Numbers’ performance from the Warriors. Back on their home floor and on the big stage, all of Steve Kerr’s ten-man rotation stood up when it mattered.
Led by Poole’s 32 and Thompson’s 24, Golden State had six players scoring in double figures. Draymond Green put up a signature statline with three points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists and two blocks. Jonathan Kuminga had seven points, four rebounds and three assists, and while he didn’t attempt a single shot, James Wiseman produced some of the best defense and rebounding that he’s shown at NBA level.
The Warriors couldn’t have chosen a more perfect Christmas gift for a doubting fanbase and a national audience. They’ll hope it rolls on for a further seven home games starting with the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday.