Inside a stunned Memphis Grizzlies locker room after a two-point loss to the Warriors
SAN FRANCISCO — Ziaire Williams sat in the corner of the locker room, with a white towel draped over his head as he looked down at the floor after having one of the worst performances of his young NBA career.
"Aye Z, we kicking it tonight, bruh," Desmond Bane yelled across the room to Williams, who was shaking his head with the towel still covering his face. "Pick your head up."
The Memphis Grizzlies have lost four games in a row after a stunning 122-120 defeat against the Golden State Warriors. Losing is never easy, but Grizzlies losses to Golden State come with extra pain. Especially a game in which the Grizzlies led by 10 points with 6:04 remaining. From that point on, the Warriors (24-24) closed the game on a 23-11 run.
"Man, bad," Brandon Clarke said, describing how he felt after the game. "Gave a lot of effort, really wanted to win. Really like playing versus them, so I wanted to beat them tonight."
Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks declined to speak with the media after the game. Morant led the Grizzlies (31-17) with 29 points and 12 assists, but his free-throw shooting will be what he remembers the most. Morant shot 7-for-12 at the line.
It's no secret that beating the Warriors has a little more meaning to Brooks. He spent most of the game defending Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Brooks finished with 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting.
"It's just a rough patch of the season," Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. "It happens. So we just got to find our groove. We got to play better on the road. This was one of our best efforts in the four games so far on the road. We got to build on it."
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A lot of attention will be on the final play of the game, when Warriors guard Jordan Poole back cut to the rim and made a left-handed layup over the outstretched arms of Williams. On the play, Williams was told to play a top-lock defense, which means it was his job to take away a stagger or pin down toward the 3-point line and force a back cut. The help defense shifted away from the basket, which left Poole open for just enough time to make the final basket.
The defensive breakdown was compounded with a 1-for-7 shooting night from Williams. He missed all six of his 3-point attempts.
"I thought he did a good job balancing cutting, getting to the rim, he got a lob or two," Jenkins said. "Those are shots we have a lot of faith in him taking."
Bane and Tyus Jones were among the more upbeat players looking at the bigger picture. For Bane, as a shooter, he's dealt with going through shooting slumps while keeping a positive mindset.
Now in his eighth NBA season, Jones has been around long enough to stay even-keeled through these situations. The Grizzlies have lost four games in a row ahead of Friday's road game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves matchup is technically just another regular-season game, but it may be as close to a must-win contest as the Grizzlies have played this season for no reason other than pride.
Remember, the Grizzlies are supposed to be "fine in the West," according to Morant. Memphis also just won 11 games in a row. Going winless on the five-game road trip is the only thing that could sting more than Wednesday's Golden State loss.
"We need a game," Jones said. "We need to get a win. It hasn't been a good road trip for us. It would be good to close it on a high note and get back home in front of our fans. ... This is where great teams continue to lock in."
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Inside Memphis Grizzlies locker room after stunning loss vs. Warriors