SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — 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.
MVP. no debate ‼️ https://t.co/W4H5WvIVHB
— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) May 16, 2021
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.
Jonas Valanciunas had 29 points and 16 rebounds for the Grizzlies.
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.