The Golden State Warriors are a better team than the New Orleans Hornets, but there’s something to be said for what they did on the road tonight. After a pretty poor first quarter, they built a lead that sat at about six points for a while. Then it became an eight-point advantage, then 10 and 12. That isn’t easy to do against even the worst teams on the road. In the end, the Warriors’ defense led the Hornets to stop caring, leading to a tidy 93-72 win in New Orleans even though Golden State committed 16 turnovers.
It helped that the Warrior who was most careless with the ball once again showed he’s the best 3-point shooter in the world. Stephen Curry gave the ball away seven times, usually with passes that were exceedingly difficult. Curry also went 6-for-9 from three, scored 30 points and collected 7 rebounds.
The last Warriors game I was able to watch was the nationally televised stinker against the Houston Rockets on March 8. Since then, this team has gone through several iterations. They allowed Brandon Jennings to go off against them (again) and lost to The Runnin’ Montas at home. Then they embarrassed the Knicks, held off the Pistons and then were outworked and outclassed by the Chicago Bulls to end their homestand on a depressing note.
Good teams don’t get blasted at home, so the Warriors were liable to drop out of the playoff race if they weren’t careful. The bottom was ready to fall out, or at least that’s the way things looked. Instead, they took a day off, and something clicked defensively. Or maybe something clicked in Andrew Bogut’s ankle, only in a good way this time.
Bogut had his best game as a Warrior last night, and Golden State salvaged their season series with the Rockets to a certain extent with an astonishing 108-78 blowout win in Houston where the Warriors held their recent rivals to 32.6% shooting. Tonight it was more of the same. The Hornets made 33.7% of their shots, 3-of-17 from behind the arc. Bogut made Robin Lopez look even more Robin Lopez-like than usual, blocking three of the lesser twin’s shots. Bogut blocked four shots overall, and also added eight points, nine rebounds and five assists.
David Lee was the one with the 20-10 on 7-of-9 shooting, but Bogut was the one who changed shots all over the court. He was even frisky offensively, trying out his own version of And-1 mixtape dribbles that he probably wouldn’t trot out against better teams. The Hornets are playing out the string, and Bogut and the Warriors had fun as this game went along.
Fun doesn’t usually come in situations like this, in a different time zone during the second game of a back-to-back.
— Tonight’s win was not just a statement that the loss to the Bulls knocked some much-needed sense into the Warriors. It was also an important win considering the Los Angeles Lakers are hosting the awful Phoenix Suns (while it was fun to cover Spring Training, watching a Suns home game on television makes one feel uncomfortably numb) and the Utah Jazz are hosting the equally terrible New York Knicks (who, unfortunately, seemed like they were on national TV every night over the past two weeks).
Update: the Lakers lost by 23 and the Jazz lost by seven (the standings below reflect that change).
Right now the Warriors are hoping they can stay where they are and face the Clippers, and if something really changed after the loss to Chicago they should be able to hold up their end. Not only is their remaining schedule very home-heavy (nine of their last 13 games are at Oracle), they only face above-.500 teams six times.
— Harrison Barnes had a nice crosssover, drive and two-handed dunk in light traffic, and got to the line a couple times. Besides that, his stat line was relatively empty.
— The Warriors didn’t need Klay Thompson in Nola, so it didn’t burn them that he didn’t shoot particularly well (5-for-15) and his passing (four turnovers) was even worse.
— It’s time to give all of Richard Jefferson’s minutes to Kent Bazemore for a while. Perhaps an extended while.
— Carl Landry is the odd man out with Bogut healthy, and the Warriors are okay with that on nights like the last two. But if they make the playoffs they’re going to need him to start playing more like he did in November.
— Golden State outscored New Orleans in the second and fourth quarters, 50-25.