Carter scores 32, Grizzlies beat Warriors 132-117 in finale
Carter, who entered the game averaging 3.7 points, scored a career-high 32 points, Justin Holiday added 22 and the Grizzlies beat the Warriors 132-117 Wednesday night in the regular-season finale featuring plenty of reserves for both teams.
Carter, a second-round draft choice last summer, was 10 of 18 from the field and 8 of 12 from 3-point range. Memphis was helped by 21-of-46 shooting from outside the arc.
“I just figured why not go out with a bang,” Carter said. “Last game of the season, give it all I’ve got.”
Golden State entered the game with its playoff position set atop of the Western Conference and sat most of its starters, either by plan or as a bit of a precaution after Stephen Curry tweaked his ankle in Tuesday night’s win at New Orleans. Curry, along with Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins and Shaun Livingston, took Wednesday night off.
Meanwhile, Memphis has played short-handed for weeks with various injuries. Nine players who logged significant minutes were not available, including point guard Mike Conley.
That left bench players for both teams to close out the season in a run-and-gun, minimal-defense affair. Memphis held an 86-68 lead at the half. The 86 points was a Memphis franchise record for points in a half. Carter already had reached 19 points at that point.
“Confidence and work,” Memphis coach J.B. Bickerstaff said regarding the keys to Carter’s performance. “He has put in a ton of time working at it.”
The importance of the game for the Warriors was reflected in coach Steve Kerr’s postgame comments — which focused on this weekend’s first-round matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers.
“It’s a good matchup geographically for us,” Kerr said. “But it’s a hell of an opponent.”
Warriors: A 3-pointer by Jacob Evans III in the first quarter was the fourth of the game, setting a franchise record for 3-pointers in a season. The previous record of 1,077 was set in 2015-16 . … Quinn Cook’s 3-pointer near the midway point of the first quarter put him past 500 points for the season. … Durant was whistled for a technical in the first quarter – his 16th of the season. Under NBA rules, a player is suspended one game after the 16th. However, Warriors officials said the rule doesn’t carry over from the regular season into the postseason.
Grizzlies: The 45 points in the first quarter were a season high for any period this season and only one less than the franchise record set against the Los Angeles Lakers Jan. 9, 2007. … Carter’s previous high this season was 15 points on March 2 at Dallas. … Wright’s third triple-double moved him to second place on the franchise list behind Marc Gasol, who had five.
While Thompson and Durant did play, Kerr made it clear before the game, they would not spend many minutes on the floor.
Asked if Curry twisting his ankle changed his approach on the finale, the Warriors coach replied: “Our approach is we’ve got to stay ready, keep our conditioning but not expose ourselves to too much risk, and that’s a tricky thing to balance.”
Durant played 18-plus minutes, Thompson just less than 17.
The Grizzlies had 28 different players don their uniform this season, matching their record for most players to see action for a team in a season. Carter became the 20th player to lead the team in scoring in a game. When someone referred it as an absurd stat, Memphis coach J.B. Bickerstaff replied: “It is.” Bickerstaff then reflected on the positive. “Instead of thinking about that as a difficult thing, you think about how that means your team was playing. Your team wasn’t a bunch of hogs.”
Durant noticed too. “They have an all-for-one scoring group,” he said. “They can have anybody lead the team in scoring at any time in the game from anywhere.”
Warriors: Host Los Angeles Clippers in first round of Western Conference playoffs.
Grizzlies: The offseason.