Lang Whitaker: ‘Warriors Came Out And Punched First’

The Golden State Warriors hadn’t lost three straight games all season, and they certainly weren’t about to in the Western Conference semifinals. After losing back-to-back games to Memphis – including a double-digit loss in Game 3 – Golden State flipped the script on the Grizzlies, winning Game 4, 101-84, to even the series at two games apiece.

The biggest difference Monday night? Stephen Curry. The MVP averaged 21 points in Games 2 and 3; he had 21 by halftime in Game 4 and finished with 33.

“He looked like himself again,” NBA.com writer Lang Whitaker said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They did some interesting things. The Warriors used Andrew Bogut to guard Tony Allen, who’s not really an offensive threat. It just kind of let Bogut be like a free safety and really opened everything up. It really changed the game.”

Memphis shot just 33-of-88 (37.5 percent) from the floor, including 4-of-18 (22.2 percent) from three-point range. The Grizzlies suffered on defense, too.

“By the time they got back to the other end, they were out of their defensive alignments,” Whitaker said. “So it’s going to be interesting to see how Memphis is able to adjust to that in Game 5 back in Golden State.”

Game 5 is Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. ET.

The Grizzlies will need a better showing from Allen, who scored just four points on 2-of-9 shooting in Game 4, including 0-of-3 from three-point range.

“Yeah, he’s not really (an offensive threat),” Whitaker said. “I actually talked to him about it the other day. Now he’s sort of known as a defensive stopper, and he’s great at that. (He was) first-team all defense. But in college, he averaged 16 a game for the two years he played at Oklahoma State. But since he came to the NBA, he hasn’t really had to be that. He’s just sort of focused on defense. He took a couple of shots early on and he took a couple threes. They weren’t going. So he ended up only playing 15 minutes. I know he’s also been battling a hamstring (injury), so I don’t know if that was part of it, but Memphis went with a lot of Jeff Green tonight. I think (they were) just trying to take advantage of that offensive gap that was there for them to take advantage of, and they couldn’t find anyone to do that.”

Five Grizzlies scored in double figures, but none reached 20 points. Marc Gasol had a team-high 19 points, but he needed 19 shots to get there.

The Warriors, meanwhile, were crisp and efficient, shooting 47.5 percent from the floor and hitting 14 threes.

“Harrison Barnes said he kind of felt like they were the aggressors,” Whitaker said. “They kind of came out and punched first. Instead of kind of being on their heels like they were in Games 2 and 3 throughout the game, I think that little matchup thing and having Bogut defend Allen sort of was enough of a haymaker to kind of cause Golden State to be able to be in the lead and sort of lead from the top instead of trying to come back the entire time.”

The Warriors led 61-44 at halftime and 82-64 entering the fourth quarter.

“With Memphis not being a dynamic offensive team, it kind of felt like once you get down 10, 12 points to Golden State, that’s a really steep hill to come back on,” Whitaker said. “It felt like Memphis was kind of playing uphill most of the night.”

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