We know the Warriors hear the doubts. They might have a pretty winning percentage to go along with their aesthetically pleasing offensive game, but they’re a jump-shooting team. They’ll have trouble against teams like Memphis or San Antonio, the squad that came into Oracle on the second night of a back-to-back on Friday and lost to the Warriors (110-99) for the first time since the 2013 playoffs.
So, what kind of statement did Golden State make on a night when they defended well and blistered the nets from distance?
“Uh … none,” said Draymond Green. “It’s another game. We’re not going to make it like it’s a big deal. Obviously they’re a good team and always a tough team to beat. But it’s not like we proved anything to them or the world.”
Perhaps the Warriors feel like celebrating a regular season win at home against the No. 7 team in the Western Conference would be a bad look. Or, they’re savvy enough to know they’re in for several months of everyone examining their quotes, dissecting them, and passing them along to future postseason opponents in hopes of lighting a fire. Their head coach knows all about this kind of stuff, you know.
“He’s really good at talking to the media,” said Andre Iguodala with a sly grin. “He used to be the media.”
Alright, so stoking the crowd into a frenzy in the second and third quarters with brilliant play — meaning the Warriors didn’t waste their only home game between February 5 and March 3 — didn’t mark a turning point in their season. But it did show that Curry might have another gear (I know, it doesn’t really seem possible). Iguodala saw it coming.
“I knew Steph would have a good game Wednesday night. He did a good job of really just having that poise and having that focus about himself that kind of rubs off on other guys. It started Wednesday night with practice,” said Iguodala, who mentioned in a separate interview after the game that I caught on the drive home how the first team was killing the reserves during that Wednesday practice, something that hasn’t happened a whole lot this season.
We’ve been hearing all season about how impactful Green and Iguodala are, even when their stat lines aren’t gaudy. Curry’s stats were great — 25 points, 11 assists, four rebounds, four steals and four three-pointers. Yet it was how he got those numbers that was so striking.
- The behind-the-back pass early on to Klay Thompson, who drilled a three.
- A full-court pass over everyone, perfectly into the arms of Thompson, who finished with a dunk.
- The play in transition when he went around his back to avoid Marco Belinelli, then laid it in with his left hand to avoid Boris Diaw.
- He flexed with both arms after hitting the floor on a three-point play.
- He yelled to the crowd.
- The way he responded to Gregg Popovich’s decision to have Patty Mills pressure him for all 94 feet.
- The way he responded to the technical foul.
To be specific on the last two items, he crossed up Tony Parker (hounded by Curry all night; Parker scored just two points, and they both came on technical foul shots) and nailed a 28-footer, then stared at the Spurs bench.
Curry doesn’t seem like an angry person off the floor. And there was palpable joy in his play. Not that there isn’t usually, but he seemed to add a sprinkle of the showmanship he displayed during the All-Star Game to his repertoire in his first game back after the break. He also showed on Friday night that getting his blood to boil on a basketball court is a very, very risky move … for opponents, that is.
“I liked that. You don’t see it often. When he gets a tech, I enjoy it,” Green said.
“Just that fire. It’s the fire that the world doesn’t know he has, but I know he has it. It’s that dog that everybody tries to ignore, but I know he’s got it.”
There are still 30 games left before the real games even start, but this one seemed important. It was fun as hell to watch, anyway. Maybe the rarity of catching the Warriors at home in February helped a bit, but hearing the crowd really belt out those “M-V-P” chants with Curry at the line, along with their double-digit lead over the Spurs through most of the second half, made it feel like the tired legs and listless moments heading into the All-Star Break are long gone, and the Warriors are ready to make their title run.
— I asked Curry if he could remember the last time he went around his back on a similar play in transition. “Never,” he said.
Here’s the play in question:
— Alex Torres (@alextorresww) February 21, 2015
Then Warriorsworld sent this over:
Huh. Maybe Curry was thinking of plays that ended in a layup for himself, or he was tired of answering questions and didn’t feel like going through his memory in an attempt to pinpoint a certain highlight. For a guy like Curry, picking out a particular spectacular play can’t be easy when there are so many from which to choose.
— Iguodala actually had a really good-looking stat line tonight: 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, 4-for-6 on threes, plus six rebounds. His shot seemed to have more arc, more legs, and a longer follow-through.
— Kerr talked about how his team kind of felt its way through the first quarter, and he told Green during halftime that he wanted to see more passion.
“I don’t think I really had quite my energy that I normally have coming out of the gate,” said Green.
“(Kerr) kind of pissed me off. He got me going. He told me, he said, ‘Don’t give me a dirty look. Cuss me out.'”
Green said his response was, “Ah, let’s keep the peace.” But Kerr seemed pleased with Green’s fire throughout the rest of the contest.
— David Lee was dynamite on both ends in the second half. Mo Speights (who didn’t play much) got a wakeup call tonight. We’ll see if he answers or hits the snooze.
— Leandro Barbosa brings energy, but he also squandered a rebound by colliding with Curry and overdribbled on several occasions. In a perfect world, Kerr would know what he’s getting from Justin Holiday every night. Holiday’s defense is much better, but Barbosa is more comfortable imposing himself on the game. Sometimes that’s a really good thing, by the way. But not all the time.
— Festus Ezeli came in and got a blocked shot near the end of the game that looked pretty impressive. Hard to know if that means anything, but it seemed like a positive sign.
— Kiss Cam locked in on a brother and sister. It was clear they weren’t going to kiss, and it didn’t take a great lip-reader to see that he was saying, “I’m her brother. She’s my sister,” while shaking his head. Down with Kiss Cam.
— The Warriors have now beaten each team they’ve lost a game against, except the Hawks (coming to Oakland on March 18) and the Grizzlies (the Warriors go to Memphis on March 27 and play them at Oracle on April 13).
— This is a franchise that’s been around for 69 years. They’ve only won 43 or more games in 23 seasons (including this one).