MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- There's no denying that Friday's showdown against the Memphis Grizzlies is a big one for the Warriors.
They are seriously in need of a win after getting blown out in the first two games of this four-game trip. They're playing a team with which they are jockeying for playoff position.
Oh, and by the way, Memphis has beaten Golden State in eight straight.
"And Memphis lost a little bit with Rudy Gay (being traded), so hopefully we can match up with them a little bit better this time," said center Andrew Bogut, who will return to the lineup against the Grizzlies after sitting out Wednesday at Oklahoma City.
"They absolutely killed us the first two times we played them. And they could be a potential first-round playoff matchup. So we need to come out and make sure we assert ourselves."
Perhaps another shot at Memphis couldn't have come at a better time. The Warriors are in an 0-2 hole on this trip because the last two opponents ran the Warriors out of the gym.
At Houston and Oklahoma City, Golden State gave up an average of 129.5 points on 50.5 percent shooting. The Rockets did it on the outside, tying an NBA record with 23 3-pointers. The Thunder did it on the inside, racking up 64 points in the paint.
It was certainly uncharacteristic of the Warriors, who before those two games held opponents to 43.4 percent shooting (fourth-best in the league). Golden State has prided itself on collectively protecting the paint. But the Rockets and Thunder exploited the Warriors' aggressive help defense.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson said it was more a blip on he radar than a concerning trend.
"You know what you do?" he asked. "You high five 'em and say, 'Well done.' We've done enough studying to say that's not going to beat us over the long haul. ... We've got to be better at protecting the paint and closing out on shooters and contesting shots. Certainly. But we're not going to overreact to teams, individually and collectively, making contested shots. The data shows us that's not how we're going to be beaten over the long haul."
Jackson said the fatigue and the potency of the opposing offenses were factors. The Warriors' defense is predicated on precision rotations and quick reaction. The helper collapses to offer help in the paint, but then he's supposed to hustle back out to the shooter.
It has worked well enough to have the Warriors tied for fifth in field goal percentage defense and 3-point field-goal percentage defense. But the last two games, Jackson said his team was a step slow, which made for a bounty of open looks.
It is unlikely Memphis will pose such a problem. The Grizzlies rank 27th in scoring (93.04) and 25th in field goal percentage (43.6). And Gay, perhaps their most dynamic offensive player, was traded to Toronto on Jan. 31.
So, instead, Golden State is bracing for a dogfight. The Grizzlies like to slow the game, pound it inside and impose their will. The Warriors know Memphis is rough on both ends. They know points will be at a premium. They know defensive focus is of utmost importance.
A game like this is just the prescription to get the Warriors back into the defensive mindset that got them a season-high 13 games over .500.
"We've built ourselves on defending," rookie forward Draymond Green said. "We played two good teams, yes. But we haven't played our style of basketball. ... It hasn't gone anywhere. It's still there. We're a team that's done it. We've proven we can do it. Will we get back to that? Yes. Do we have to get back to that immediately? Yes."
No doubt, if Golden State wants to salvage this trip, it had better get back to it immediately. With three games left before the All-Star break, the window for finishing strong is closing.
Plus, the Warriors have fallen to sixth in the Western Conference standings since Denver has surged to fourth. Victory not only would vault Golden State over Memphis, a half-game ahead, but it would keep the Warriors in contact with the Nuggets and the No. 4 seed, which represents home-court advantage in the first round.
Not to mention, Utah is just 21/2 games behind at No. 7.
"We're not going anywhere," Jackson said. " ... If you said before the season we'd be sitting where we're sitting right now, with no Brandon Rush, a majority of the time no Andrew Bogut, with two rookies in our starting lineup and three in our rotation, we would've signed the paper immediately. In permanent ink.
"We lost two games. Any team during the course of the year goes through bad outings. You can't overreact."
Curry, passed over for the All-Star game, has agreed to participate in the 3-point shootout during All-Star Saturday on Feb. 16. The competitors were announced Thursday. He will compete against New Orleans' Ryan Anderson (the former Cal star), San Antonio's Matt Bonner, Indiana's Paul George, Cleveland's Kyrie Irving and New York's Steve Novak.
Curry is second in the league in 3-point percentage (44.9) and 3-pointers made (147). This will be his second appearance in the event.
In 2010, he finished runner-up to Boston's Paul Pierce.
"I've got to avenge my rookie year shortcoming," Curry said.
Curry, who has missed four games this season because of two right ankle sprains, said he will not take part in the Skills Challenge, a timed obstacle course of passing and dribbling also held on Saturday. Curry won the event in 2011.
But all hope is not lost that Curry will be in the main event Sunday. He is a likely selection to be an injury replacement, and three All-Stars -- Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan and Chris Paul -- are nursing injuries. Being in Houston already certainly helps his case should someone bow out.