The Warriors have now won seven in a row, but this game seemed like seven wins on its own. Golden State arrived in Miami, a party city if there ever was one, on New Year’s Eve. But they waited until taking the court against the defending champions to really let loose. After the Warriors won 123-114, the only ones who’ll be nursing hangovers are the Heat (and probably Johnny Manziel, who was in attendance).
There may have been a game or two last season where David Lee and Stephen Curry played this well at the same time, but it’s difficult to summon that game to memory right now. Lee scored 32 points on just 17 shots. He made 13 of them, grabbed 14 rebounds and even seemed to relocate his midrange jumper. Curry went off for 36 points along with 12 assists, making 8-of-15 threes and showing off his quick release and otherworldly touch from every spot on the floor.
The Warriors were on fire from the beginning, scoring 38 points in the first quarter on 79% shooting. The Heat met the Warriors’ energy with some solid defense early in the second quarter, but the Warriors proved relentless and Miami struggled to contain the Warriors’ two stars, especially when Mark Jackson went small.
Andrew Bogut was replaced by Draymond Green with seven minutes to go in the third, and never reentered the game. There were no reports of Bogut sustaining an injury, so for now we’ll assume that Jackson knew there was no point in forcing the issue against a team that gets by just fine without a true center. (Bogut did grimace when the camera showed him on the bench, but as Jim Barnett said, “He does that a lot.”)
The Warriors won a completely different game in Miami last year, a 97-95 slugfest that featured Lee sending LeBron James to the floor with a hard foul and Green of all people hitting a game-winning layup to pull off a win no one expected. Golden State is a different squad now; Jarrett Jack scored 20 points off the bench and Curry (who went 4-for-10 in the game and scored just nine points in 42 minutes) wasn’t yet the superstar we saw in the second half of last season and the playoffs. Also, the Warriors winning a game in Miami doesn’t seem so unbelievable anymore.
There were several gorgeous offensive plays in this game, but two were especially memorable. One was the pass Andre Iguodala bounced between his legs to a streaking Curry who was running behind him in transition, which was followed by a long, arcing two-pointer that really did seem to “splash” through the net (which surprisingly didn’t get ripped to shreds tonight). Another was a nifty pick-and-roll set up by Lee and Curry that led to a give-and-go and Lee finishing inside with ease.
It was a display of how dangerous Golden State is when they’re hitting their outside shots (they went 15-for-29 on threes), but one also can sense the “#fullsquad” confidence brewing. Since their disastrous and, let’s face it, lazy performance against a short-handed Spurs team, the Warriors have met the lofty expectations set for them before the season — expectations that got absurdly optimistic after they started 9-3.
During the course of the streak, the Warriors have beaten good teams and bad, and won in a variety of ways. Last season’s win in Miami was followed by a 14-point loss in Orlando two nights later. If the Warriors can win tomorrow night in Atlanta, they might end up taking a 13-game win streak into their Jan. 17 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
– 123 points is the most anyone has scored against the Heat since the Spurs beat Miami 125-95 on Mar. 4, 2011.
– The last time the Warriors scored this many points was during their 125-94 rout of the Lakers on opening night.
– Harrison Barnes still needs to be more efficient with his dribbling, and he still seems hesitant to try dunking in traffic (something we’ve seen ever since he suffered that concussion against San Antonio in the playoffs), but he had a nice game: 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting, and 6-for-7 from the free throw line.
– Klay Thompson stepped out of bounds twice in a five-minute span, taking Warriors fans back to the Mickael Pietrus days. This is a bad habit Thompson needs to work on breaking. In the meantime, it wouldn’t seem quite as bad if he didn’t break out the same goofy expression every time he stepped out with the ball in his hands.
– Kent Bazemore was pulled after making a couple turnovers in the first half, and smacked the seat of his chair before sitting down. I’ve never seen Bazemore angry before — it was kind of odd/good to see.
– The Warriors had a ton of turnovers early, but kept them to a minimum in the second half to *only* end up with 18.
– LeBron James had eight turnovers himself, a season high (he had seven against Minnesota on Dec. 7). James also appeared to lose part of the heel of his shoe as he tried to stop in the lane. A large black skid mark was left on the floor from one of his signature sneakers, which cost $200 a pair.