SAN FRANCISCO — The Warriors returned home ready to prove a point. Or maybe two.

First, that they’re not fazed by the Grizzlies’ threats to knock their dynasty off the block. In front of a national audience on Christmas night, without Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins, the Warriors taunted and danced their way to a 14-point win against the Western Conference’s top team.

All the angst from a bad road trip and disappointing record spilled over, resulting in six technical fouls. The sixth tech painted a picture of what the Warriors see that others may not: An established hierarchy. Klay Thompson taunting Dillon Brooks, who’d fallen to the ground on his back after Thompson hit a jumper to extend the Warriors’ lead to 16 points with just under four minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

“You can’t talk dynasty when you haven’t won before,” Thompson told ESPN of the moment. “I thought that was premature talk.”

Thompson hasn’t been shy about his beef with the Grizzlies. Minutes after winning the NBA Finals, he called Jaren Jackson Jr. a “frigging bum” for tweeting out “strength in numbers,” a former Warriors rally cry, following a Memphis regular season win last March.

In his eyes, Jackson was insinuating that the Warriors’ dynasty was dead after two down years in which Thompson was injured. That, and Brooks’ comments last March that Memphis was “building a dynasty” rubbed Thompson the wrong way.

So when Brooks was at his feet — the downtrodden Warriors on their way to a significant win — Thompson couldn’t help himself.

Though he scaled back on those scoffing remarks once the adrenaline stopped pumping.

“Just some good old fashion trash talk,” he said at the podium. “I didn’t think it warranted a technical, but I forgot about the taunting rule. It is always fun to talk trash.”

Things tend to get chippy when these two teams play. Their Western Conference semifinal match-up was borderline WWE — rife with flagrant fouls, taunts, a broken elbow, and accusations of intentional harm. Brooks has been at the center of most of it. His hard foul in Game 2 of the semifinals broke Gary Payton II’s elbow.

And he was back in the spotlight on Sunday. Earlier in the game, Jordan Poole — who was ejected with two technical fouls issued — and street-clothed Curry from the bench got in Brooks’ face after Poole hit two 3-pointers. That’s around when Brooks got into it with Warriors owner Joe Lacob and his court side seat-mate Deebo Samuel, the 49ers wide receiver.

When news hit that Curry would miss Christmas with a shoulder injury on Dec. 15, Brooks said he preferred the Thompson assignment because he wanted to “show him what kind of defense I got.” Brooks’ ire turned to the referees after the game.

“Refs let it happen,” he said of Thompson’s technical. “He was doing it all game and then they want to catch the bad guy, you know what I’m saying, and that’s whack to me. (Expletive) up calls, putting the wrong guys on the free throw line, like it was a circus. Should have had different refs.”

Other than Thompson’s comments to ESPN, the Warriors wouldn’t indulge the idea that the Grizzlies rile them up. However invigorating a home win against Memphis read, the Warriors are 16-18, still in 11th place in the Western Conference with a paltry 3-16 on the road off a 1-5 East Coast trip.

If the Warriors want to climb that Western Conference ladder, they’ll have to play like they did for this Christmas game on the road — over and over again. For the Warriors, this win against Memphis was their way to remind anyone counting them out of contention that they see themselves at the top of the pack. They can beat anyone, they believe.


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