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Curry, Warriors return to dominance in Game 4

Defensive adjustments rattle Memphis to help even the series

POSTED: May 12, 2015 2:07 AM ET

By Lang Whitaker

BY Lang Whitaker

NBA.com

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— After two games in which they looked a team searching for answers, in Game 4 the Golden State Warriors and their revitalized MVP Stephen Curry used a subtle tactical adjustment to help them find a foothold, and beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 101-84, to level the series at 2-2.

"It wasn't a must-win situation for us, but it was a must-win situation for us," said Warriors forward Andre Iguodala. "It was a good win for us. I like the way our energy was and our intent with each possession. We're getting it, we're getting it, as far as being in playoff mode."

Iguodala noted they "threw a wrench" into some of Memphis's match-ups by unveiling some unique assignments, like having center Andrew Bogut defend small forward Tony Allen, who is not much of an offensive threat. This intentional mismatch essentially allowed Bogut to play a free safety role on defense, as early on Allen was gifted several open looks of which he struggled to take advantage. While Allen roamed the perimeter unmatched, Bogut could clog the paint and help against the Grizzlies' smash brothers, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

"All night Bogut was playing behind me and one was playing in front me," said Randolph. "We have to make everybody try and to play five-on-five and guard him. We have to make some adjustments."

The Warriors' incompatibilities on the defensive end also led to confusion on the opposite end in transition, which gave the Warriors' offense the crack in the Grizzlies defense they had been searching for. "If we turnover or if we miss a long shot," said Gasol, "everybody is below the free throw line and we cross-match with them playing the small ball, and it's tough for us to get our defense set when we don't execute offensively."

With Allen mostly out of mix, the Warriors got a breakout game from Stephen Curry, who had averaged 21 points per game in the two Golden State losses. In Game 4, Curry shrugged off whatever funk he'd been in and had 21 by halftime, finishing with 33 points, including 4-for-9 from behind the 3-point line. The Warriors seemed to feed off Curry's energy, shooting 42 percent on threes, after totaling just 23 percent in Game 2 and 3.

"I never get down," Curry said. "You get frustrated about missing shots and how you play. But you never get down on yourself. We are competitors and as long as there is another game you have an opportunity to change it."

Curry broke out all his MVP moves, from pull-up threes to crossover dribbles in traffic to one-handed passes to cutting teammates.

"I don't know if [Curry] realizes it," Iguodala said, "but it kind of does rub off on everyone else when you see him in that mode. It forces you to be a little louder on defense, talking, you're diving on the ball, you're locked in. That's what we've been trying to get, is having that aggressive intent."

Before Game 4, Memphis coach Dave Joerger said, "We came into the series believing regardless of what anybody else thought that it would be a seven-game series, and we were going to take that mentality to just keep punching away, so to speak, to use a boxing mentality."

After the game, with the Grizzlies now needing to win two of the next three despite Golden State holding home court advantage, Joerger deployed another pugilistic analogy.

"We just have to keep swinging away."

Lang Whitaker has covered the NBA since 1998. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

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