While most people seemed to be watching the Grammys or the Pro Bowl (really?), my wife and I went to our first Warriors game together this season. It was cool to watch the team play from a different vantage point (Section 121, Row 13 — behind the left basket if you’re watching on television), and the game was pretty entertaining until Portland seemed to concede the game after the Warriors held them to 12 points in the third quarter of their 103-88 victory.
When you’re watching a game with nothing but the most basic of stats on the videoboard to keep you informed, you miss certain things. I could tell by watching that nothing seemed to come as easily for LaMarcus Aldridge as we’re used to seeing against Golden State, but I had no idea he went 2-for-14 from the floor. Likewise, the Blazers making only 33.7% of their shots took me by surprise when I heard Pat Olson (in for Tim Roye) recite that stat on the postgame show while we inched our way out of the Oracle Arena parking lot.
The Warriors played some defense against a strong team for the first time in a while, as it was clear that Mark Jackson’s comments on Friday made a mark. He ripped his starters for playing next to no defense in the first and third quarters against Minnesota, and the Blazers mustered just 34 points combined in the first and third quarters tonight.
Not that Golden State took advantage of a tired Portland squad (the Blazers beat the Timberwolves on Saturday night and were playing their third game in four days) on the offensive end. Stephen Curry was brilliant, with 38 points — should’ve been 40, but he missed three free throws including two in a row — eight assists and seven rebounds. However, Klay Thompson went 6-for-21, David Lee made 6-of-16, and the bench supplied very little offensively once again.
But the Warriors needed a grind-it-out game like this to remind them that if they play defense throughout and limit the turnovers (the Blazers committed 14 turnovers, the Warriors only turned it over 9 times), they can beat teams even when they shoot poorly.
— On Twitter I posted the following question:
When was the last time Harrison Barnes dunked?
— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) January 27, 2014
No fewer than four people mentioned the commercial the Warriors are currently running where Barnes dunks on a season ticket holder who looks no taller than 5′ 6″. The bad news for the Warriors: Barnes hasn’t been the same since he suffered that concussion in the playoffs against San Antonio. The good news: it appears they made a really memorable commercial starring Barnes.
— Andre Iguodala (and the rest of the Warriors) missed too many layups, but something clicked for Iguodala (who calls himself a fan of Richard Sherman, by the way) in the fourth quarter on Friday. He’s been way more active offensively since that time, and the number of dunks he converts makes Barnes’ deficiencies in that area even more glaring.
— Portland’s road winning percentage: .652
— Golden State’s home winning percentage: .650
— I spent a good portion of the looooong car ride to Oracle (terrible traffic heading to the Bay Bridge for a Sunday) telling my wife how great Damian Lillard is, and he didn’t do much of anything. I was expecting him to show Curry that he’s the guy who should’ve made the All-Star team, but Lillard sort of coasted while Curry was by far the best player on the court.
— He only had two assists to show for it, but Jordan Crawford seemed to be more intent on being a playmaker tonight instead of a chucker. He’s one of the few guys on the team who can break guys down off the dribble, and the work he did left teammates open all over the court. Hopefully for the Warriors he keeps that up.
— One of the biggest cheers of the night came after Draymond Green fouled out, and for good reason. He drove Aldridge crazy.
— However, Jackson called a 20-second timeout in the second quarter and aired out everyone, but Green got the worst of it. I assume he didn’t run to the right spot on a play, because Jackson called the timeout quickly and was as mad as I’ve seen.
— So many late whistles in this game. (Hold on … is the shot going in? No? TWEEEEEEET!)
— Kent Bazemore really does have something to say after every single positive play made by one of his teammates. It’s remarkable, really.
— The officials seemed like they decided they wouldn’t call anything early in the third quarter (when the game was still in doubt). When the game (predictably) got more physical, Aldridge was pushed by Bogut in the back. Aldridge halfheartedly flung the ball back in Bogut’s direction, and double technicals were called. Then the refs called everything for the next few minutes. Neither team seemed to get screwed, but it’s rather irksome when the officials’ motives are so transparent.
— Andrew Bogut spent the last quarter and a half lying on the floor and stretching next to the Warriors bench, reminiscent of like Larry Bird during the last few years of his legendary career. After the game ended Bogut hobbled to the locker room with terrible posture, looking like a guy going through the all-too-familiar discomfort caused by back spasms.
— Since I was with my wife I didn’t go to the Warriors’ locker room after the game (she frowns on that sort of thing). So I asked someone who covered the game if Bogut’s health was mentioned, and he said it didn’t come up. Bogut dealt with back issues briefly last season and his knee was already giving him trouble, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he missed practice tomorrow.