What we learned as Steph erupts for 46 in win over Grizzlies originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO -- If there's one thing that should be obvious about the Warriors by now, it's that if Steph Curry is cooking, Golden State always has a chance.
That was definitely the case in the Warriors' 113-104 win over the Memphis Grizzlies at Chase Center on Thursday night.
Curry finally broke out of his mini-slump to put up 46 points and hit several shots that left fans choosing between standing and cheering in excitement or shaking their heads in disbelief.
By the end of the night, it was hard to believe there were some serious questions for the Warriors (26-6) heading into the game.
Down two starters and one replacement starter in Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins and Damion Lee on Thursday night, all of the questions surrounded their depth -- which has been highlighted as one of their strongest attributes.
Who was going to step up to replace the 45 points missing without Poole, Wiggins and Lee? Who was going to be the primary facilitator off the bench with Andre Iguodala out with knee soreness injury management? Who was going to space the floor?
But from top to bottom, the Warriors saw contributions from everyone, once again highlighting how strong and lethal the Warriors' depth can be. But it also showed how important it is to have Curry on the court to anchor them.
Here are three takeaways from the night:
Steph's found his stroke
After playing the entirety of the first quarter for the last three games -- since Poole was placed in health and safety protocol -- Curry returned to his new normal minute structure.
He played up until the 4:30 mark of the first quarter, sat the remainder of the period, started the second and then checked out until the final minutes of the half. In part, it was to get Curry more rest. A few nights ago, Kerr noted how fatigued Curry has been feeling. And with so many players out, the Warriors know how much they will be relying on Curry during this stretch.
Like Thursday against the Grizzlies, for example. And those extra minutes of rest did wonders. Curry scored 46 points on 13-of-22 shooting, including 8-of-14 from three and hitting all 12 of his free throws.
Curry now has 67 career games with eight or more 3-pointers.
Gary Payton II shows out on offense
Kerr inserted Gary Payton II into the starting lineup for two reasons. One was because Kerr said he's committed to getting Payton more minutes. The other was so he could start out defending Ja Morant.
It didn't take long to prove that both of Kerr's reasons were completely warranted.
In 33 minutes, Payton helped hold Morant to 21 points and minus-five net rating. Meanwhile, Payton also scored 22 points on 9-of-16 of shooting, including 4-of-7 from three -- featuring a clutch corner three with just over a minute left in the game -- taking a chunk of the burden to step up in the other players' absences.
Payton's offense has been a revelation for Golden State. The defense was always there -- it's the reason he got the 15th roster spot. But the way he has been able to consistently hit from the outside as of late has taken his game to a new level and will turn him into a guy Kerr will trust deep into the playoffs.
As Kerr said, he'll need to find more minutes for Payton on the floor.
Scorching from deep
Even without three of their best perimeter players, the Warriors got going from beyond the arc against the Grizzlies, connecting on 19 of their 40 attempts from deep -- good for 47.5 percent.
Curry hit his eight and Payton hit four, while Nemanja Bjelica knocked down three, and Otto Porter Jr. and Jonathan Kuminga added two each.
Now, the Warriors shooting on Thursday didn't help the floor-spacing in terms of how defenders approached them. But it did allow them to overcome something that could have hurt them by missing the three players in health and safety protocol.