The Warriors could take any number of positives away from their 106-93 win over the Timberwolves. But since the phrase “if healthy” shadows this team like a tail follows the animal to which it’s attached, it’s probably best to check on Stephen Curry.
Ricky Rubio didn’t do much other than pester the Warriors, at no time more so than the inbounds play when he attached himself to Curry like a barnacle and ended up in a twisted heap that included Curry’s right leg. After that, we were led to believe Curry’s right ankle was tweaked … no wait, it’s his right knee … psyche, he’s got a bone bruise in his left foot.
Curry said he will probably play in San Antonio on Friday. The left ankle, he said, sprain happened on a separate play.
— Marcus Thompson (@gswscribe) November 7, 2013
Curry is officially day-to-day. He said he landed on someone’s foot. He also sprained his knee on the Rubio play. Said he’s “not worried …
— Marcus Thompson (@gswscribe) November 7, 2013
The knee assumption was correct, but the “bone bruise” appears instead to be a tweak of Curry’s “good” ankle. It appears Curry will be back relatively soon, although it seems right to hesitate before making a diagnosis from the couch since the Warriors are snugly in between an average NFL team and NHL team in the area of injury secrecy. At least the Warriors didn’t announce Curry was out with a “lower body injury.” At any rate, Curry came back in after getting tangled with Rubio, so one would assume he can’t be that badly hurt.
Also, Curry wasn’t all that good on Wednesday night. Luckily for the Warriors his teammates were, especially Klay Thompson (30 points, 19 in the fourth quarter), Andre Iguodala (simply a brilliant all-around game) and David Lee (22 points and 15 rebounds).
Getting Harrison Barnes back didn’t hurt either. Barnes made two quick midrange jumpers immediately after taking the floor for the first time this season after battling big toe inflammation, and was the definition of what the Warriors are looking for in a scorer off the bench. He made his time count: 14 minutes, 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He scored over Kevin Love with easy in transition.
Even better, the public got to see the Barnes we’ve been hearing so much about based on his play behind closed doors. In the team’s first home preseason game, Barnes looked tentative and was taken out after doing nothing in six minutes. We found out later that he was hurt going into that game, and spent the rest of the preseason and the first four regular season games on the bench. On his first night back, Barnes looked like the most athletic player on the floor.
Shifting from individual achievements to how the team actually won this game, the Warriors’ defense continues to impress. The Timberwolves — like the Sixers — came into this game with a good record (3-1 in Minnesota’s case). They came out looking like Rick Adelman’s Kings teams from the early 2000s, going 12-for-21 from the floor (57%) in the game’s first 10 minutes. They made only 22-of-69 (32%) the rest of the game. Golden State didn’t force quite as many steals on Wednesday as they did in Philly, but they blocked 11 shots and held the Wolves to 4-for-16 on threes.
Kevin Love scored 25, but it took him 25 (mostly contested) shots. Corey Brewer was a problem early (mostly off easy buckets after losing Curry off the ball), but the Warriors’ help defense tightened up after the first quarter. Rubio, guarded mostly by Thompson, couldn’t do much of anything — as far as point guard battles were concerned, this game was a disappointment.
The Warriors are hardly feeling down, though. Not after their third win in a row, their second consecutive win on the road, and their fourth double-digit win of the season.
— One of the questions before the season was who’d take the final shot — we know nothing more about the team’s crunch-time plans now than we did two weeks ago.
— Iguodala played 42 minutes. Since he can gobble up Curry’s, Thompson’s or Barnes’ minutes whenever they’re nicked up or in foul trouble, there will probably be several more games where Iguodala passes the 40-minute mark this season.
— Iguodala would’ve had more than 23 points if he didn’t get so excited during a couple easy dunk opportunities. Nevertheless, one can see him get more comfortable in his role, which is to fill in what’s needed on any given night. On this particular night, the Warriors just happened to need a little bit of everything.
— All of Iguodala’s six assists came in his last 14:05 of playing time.
— After Mark Jackson made his displeasure with the bench plain for everyone to see after the Warriors ended their blowout win in Philadelphia with a sloppy fourth quarter, the backups played much better in Minnesota. Besides the obvious boost from Barnes, the most impressive reserve was Jermaine O’Neal. He looked pretty terrible against the Sixers after missing the game against the Kings, but the Warriors needed his interior defense on a night when Andrew Bogut fouled out in just 16 minutes.
— The verdict is in: a skinnier Lee is a better Lee. The play where he knocked the ball into the frontcourt and beat Rubio both the ball and to the rim got a lot of praise from Jim Barnett, but Lee is nearly impossible to stop inside because of his quickness and second-jumpability (to use a word that has probably been said before on Draft night by Jay Bilas). Seven of Lee’s 10 field goals came from within two feet of the rim.
— Is Lee an All-NBA defender? Not even close. But he sure seems to be making a lot more hustle plays over the season’s first five games.
— Curry couldn’t hit a shot, his defense was suspect and he left the game due to injury. However, he only turned the ball over once and had seven assists — including this fancy one to Barnes: