Draymond Green, his teammates and coaches, and 17,000+ fans all knew what was going on inside Oracle Arena, along with several thousand viewers across the globe. Green came into last night’s game after collecting his fifth and sixth triple-doubles of the season in consecutive games: a 10-point, 11-rebound, 16-assist game in the win over Houston (a game where Green only took seven shots), followed by an historic 29/17/14 performance against Denver that put him with the likes of Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Oscar Robertson.
That’s right, not even LeBron James, nor Magic Johnson, ever matched all three totals in a single game.
Triple-doubles are a celebration of our fascination with memorable numbers. NBA teams score 100 points to get fans free chalupas (well, they used to anyway). We can either scoff at the triple-double for seeming more important to some than a 43-point, 22-rebound, 9-assist night, or we can remember that it’s all in fun and Ice Cube immortalized the achievement in “It Was A Good Day.”
And the Warriors are all about fun, as we saw last night in their win against the Hornets. When you’re the best team in the league and frequently ahead by 15 points or more, you can pursue individual milestones like 20-point quarters (heck, even 37-point quarters) or triple-doubles, as well as team milestones like the longest winning streak to start a season in NBA history.
With Green sitting at 11/10/9 in the third quarter, he tried to get one final assist. He grabbed a defensive rebound and later found Mo Speights … who was scorching hot all night, but missed a six-footer. Luke Walton took Green out shortly after. He and Green shared a laugh as Green walked to the bench, and it looked like the interim head coach said “you wanted that one.” Green chuckled.
Green returned to the game with eight minutes left and the Warriors up 18. He tried, and tried, but his teammates wouldn’t cooperate. Andre Iguodala passed to someone else every time Green fed him, almost like he was teasing the teammate he KNEW was gunning for yet another triple-double. The Warriors’ offense began to stagnate, as it became noticeable that they’d been stuck on 101 points for over a few minutes.
Then Green’s partner, the other driving force of this team, bailed him out. Stephen Curry (who was questionable to play heading into the game, but found a way to play through his shin pain with Charlotte and his father in town) caught Green’s handoff, paused, took one dribble around Green, and fired from 26 feet over Frank Kaminsky.
Thanks to CSN Bay Area’s broadcast, we got to see not just the play, but how special this moment was to both Green and Curry. We’ve seen just about every emotion from Green during his Warriors tenure, but beneath Green’s facial expressions and screams there usually lies a palpable need to prove something. In this case, he just seemed happy. That’s it. Not vindicated. Happy, relaxed and grateful.
Then, four and a half minutes later, the same duo would ice the game in a different way. After Green forced a pass that was stolen easily by Jeremy Lamb, who would go the other way and make an 11-footer, Green and Curry ran another two-man game. Only this time, Green’s assist total wasn’t weighing so heavily on his mind.
Jim Barnett noted after the dunk that Green had several earlier opportunities to take it to the rim himself, but opted to pass instead. Barnett was correct, but everyone on the squad (save for Iguodala, perhaps, although that was probably a case of him being wired to make the correct basketball play on every occasion) wanted Green to get that triple-double.
It was a memorable night for many reasons.
- Harrison Barnes returned and played 20 minutes in a way that made it look like he hadn’t missed any time.
- Curry and Klay Thompson both went for 30.
- Speights’ resurgence (along with the ascendance of Ian Clark) could make Bob Myers’ job much easier in the coming weeks.
Defense hasn’t been mentioned yet in this post, and the Warriors showed glimpses of that on Monday night but not as much as they probably would’ve liked. However, the teamwork between Green and Curry, and Green’s unrestrained joy, made this game more than an ordinary Warriors regular season victory at Oracle Arena.