One of the NBA’s hottest new rivalries added a little more fuel to the fire the following Sunday Warriors came away with a resounding 123–109 victory over Grizzlies.
Despite playing at home, Golden State (16-18) entered Christmas Day as an underdog amid a tough stretch that included five losses in the team’s last six games, all of which were on the road. But thanks to electric performances by Jordan Poole (32 points) and Klay Thompson (24 points), the reigning NBA champions defeated Ja Morant and the Grizzlies (20–12) for a statement win despite being without two key pieces in Stephen Curry (left shoulder) and Andrew Wiggins (adductor).
After the game, Thompson spoke with ESPN’s Lisa Salters about the message the Warriors wanted to send during the anticipated matchup. Needless to say, the four-time NBA champion made it clear he didn’t appreciate previous comments about the Grizzlies already being labeled a “dynasty.”
“Man, them [were] talking about dynasty and all that, you can’t talk dynasty when you haven’t won before.” Thompson proclaimed. “I don’t think people realize how difficult it is, the commitment and sacrifice it takes. You have to sacrifice your body, and I thought it was too early to mention that word.”
While Thompson clearly took exception to the discourse surrounding the Grizzlies, the Warriors star was just as quick to praise them for being one of the better teams in the West. Memphis is currently tied with Denver for the No. 2 seed in the conference, while Golden State occupies the 11th spot in the standings.
“They bring the best out of us and I think we do the same. And even if you don’t like them, you have to respect them because they are a threat,” he said.
Although Thompson did not specify when the comments were made, the sharpshooter has had some tense battles with Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks over the past couple of seasons, including during Sunday’s game. Brooks infamously referred to Memphis as a dynasty after beating Golden State at home in March, and reportedly told Curry the same when the teams met in the conference semifinals.
Before the Christmas showdown, Brooks told reporters that he enjoyed the matchup of guarding Thompson instead of Curry “better” because he “talked a little” when the Grizzlies lost in six games last postseason. On Sunday, the two gave fans one of the night’s most exciting moments after Thompson drilled a jumper over Brooks to extend Golden State’s lead to 16 points with 3:41 left in the game.
Thompson taunted Brooks after he fell to the ground at the end of the play by crouching over him as he walked down the field. The referees assessed a technical foul to Thompson moments later as the Chase Center crowd erupted into frenzy.
Thompson’s technology was one of six released overnight. Two of those went to Poole, who was ejected after receiving his second tech in the fourth quarter.
With their last heated matchup now behind them, the Warriors and Grizzlies won’t have to wait long for their next meeting. The budding rivals are slated to meet in what should be another interesting matchup on January 25 in San Francisco.