Stephen Curry became the oldest scoring champion since Michael Jordan at age 35 in 1998, finishing with 46 points as the Golden State Warriors held off the Memphis Grizzlies 113-101 on Sunday in a regular-season finale that determined the play-in tournament's eighth and ninth spots.
The Warriors wrapped up the No. 8 seed and will play Wednesday, while Memphis finishes at No. 9 and will host the Spurs on Wednesday. Golden State's opponent was dependent on Sunday night's results for the Lakers and Portland.
At 33, Curry and Jordan are the only scoring champions age 33 or older. Curry also joins Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players with multiple scoring titles, MVPs and championships.
Two-time MVP Curry locked up his first scoring title since 2015-16 with his second basket of the game late in the first quarter. He made 9 of 22 3s and also contributed nine assists and seven rebounds in Golden State’s sixth straight win. Curry averaged 32 points during his second 2,000-point season.
He had help, too.
Jordan Poole scored 15 off the bench and hit a go-ahead baseline 3 with 4:28 remaining. Andrew Wiggins dunked off a miss by Curry from deep the next time down and scored 21.
Dillon Brooks started the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run all by himself to pull Memphis within 86-77 — and Curry immediately returned, hitting a 3 with 8:23 to go.
Brooks converted a tying three-point play with 6:32 left. Draymond Green drew Brooks' sixth foul moments later, sending the Grizzlies star to the bench for the final 6:12 with 18 points.
"This is the best we’ve played all year," said coach Steve Kerr, whose Warriors returned to the arena at 10:30 p.m. Saturday night to take their COVID-19 tests ahead of the 12:30 p.m. start time.
Curry, Green and Wiggins — who had played every game — sat out Friday against New Orleans to be fresh for Sunday.
Both teams entered with identical 38-33 records and riding five-game winning streaks. They had split a back-to-back set March 19-20 in Memphis.
It marked quite a special day for outgoing Warriors President and COO Rick Welts, who is departing the position after 10 years with the franchise. He led the construction plans for second-year Chase Center and will stay on in an advisory role. Kerr spoke on the court before tip-off, both thanking the fans and honoring all that former Seattle SuperSonics ball boy Welts has done for the NBA and Warriors.
Curry missed his first four shots and initial three 3s before a layup with 3:45 remaining in the opening quarter. He then hit a jumper the next time down to become scoring champion — drawing roars and a standing ovation.
Grizzlies: Shot 2 for 12 on 3-pointers in the first half and 6 of 25 overall. ... Memphis finished 20-16 on the road, the third-highest road winning percentage in franchise history (.585 in 2012-13 and 2014-15).
Warriors: G/F Kelly Oubre Jr. missed his 10th straight game with an injured left wrist. He was re-evaluated and showed progress in his recovery, but is not cleared to practice and won't be re-examined for another week to 10 days. ... Golden State won 10 of the last 11 at home to finish with a 25-11 record at Chase Center. ... The Warriors signed G Gary Payton II, who previously had a pair of 10-day contracts with the team.
The Warriors hosted 18-year-old activist Tiana Day, who last summer led a Black Lives Matter protest on the Golden Gate Bridge that attracted some 50,000 people after just 18 hours of planning.
"I feel really powerful, I feel like I have a voice," said Day, who is from San Ramon and has started her own non-profit and took a year off from starting college to focus on her efforts. "I felt empowered because there were so many young people leading this movement, creating protests and trying to make a change in the community. I was like, ‘If they can do it, I can do it, too.’"
Golden State has regularly recognized an "Impact Warrior," someone making a positive impact through their leadership in the community.
Grizzlies: Return home to face 10th-seeded San Antonio, with that winner advancing to take on the loser of the 7 vs. 8 play-in game for the No. 8 playoff seed.
Warriors: Hit the road to play the West’s No. 7 seed in the play-in tournament to determine the seventh seed for the playoffs.