Halfway through the third quarter, no one could’ve convinced me that either the Warriors or the Thunder would score fewer than 100 points. Then the Warriors went on a pretty frustrating drought, thanks in part to some rare missed open threes from Stephen Curry and some turnovers from the entire squad. But in the end it was Oklahoma City that failed to break the century mark in a 104-99 Warriors win that sends them on their upcoming 4-game road trip in a mood to dance.
You could blame the Warriors’ offensive struggles in the second half on the curse of the shimmy, or the curse of the “knee shimmy” as Ethan Sherwood Strauss dubbed it after the game. Curry was on fire in the third quarter, and after nailing a 12-foot runner a foul on Russell Westbrook (who was simply awful) sent the Warriors’ leading scorer to the floor. Curry copied the signature dance of his coach from a kneeling position, and the crowd was euphoric.
Then the Warriors couldn’t make shots. But after allowing 57 points to the Thunder in the first half they defended in a way that made Oklahoma City look like a team that played the night before against the Clippers. Golden State used David Lee as their designated “trap Durant” guy, and the Warriors forced six turnovers in the fourth quarter — four from Durant. His last turnover came on a pass in the lane Curry intercepted on the run to seal the game. It was a nice turnaround for Curry, who had missed another wide open three at the top of the key seconds before.
Afterward, Mark Jackson was fired up — not just about win but how Golden State triumphed.
“We know how to close out games. I told my team, the beautiful thing about tonight is it would’ve been great if Steph Curry knocks down one of those threes, and people go crazy and all the sudden we’re up four or five and the game is over. But the special thing about it is, we missed the shot and we had to win the game on the defensive end, and we showed that we were committed, we buckled up, and we the stops that we needed. That’s Warriors basketball.”
Curry actually missed his last nine 3-point attempts, many of them without an opponent’s hand anywhere near his face. When asked whether the best way to defend him was to leave him open, Curry said, “Yes. Please do.”
Dancing with the (hopeful) All-Stars
— Last year I chided the Warriors for worrying so much about the All-Star Weekend stuff like the 3-Point Shootout and such, but this year I understand. At least one of either Curry or David Lee deserves to be on the Western Conference All-Star team, probably both. The Warriors have 26 wins through 41 games. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll get to 52, or even 50, but they’re a winning team that has some pretty impressive wins against some of the better teams in the NBA.
— “I think we’re probably the only team that’s lost twice to Sacramento and Orlando too,” Lee said. “Just goes to prove it’s a long season.”
— While Jackson talks up Lee and Curry on a near-daily basis, he also gave some love to the youngsters.
“It may sound crazy, but whoever’s deciding the Rookie/Sophomore game. We’ve got two rookies in our starting lineup and we’re 11 games over .500. You should disregard any numbers that they have and understand that these guys are playing winning basketball. It’s incredible.”
It’s true — Jackson’s squad has the seventh best record in the NBA with three rookies in their regular rotation (although Draymond Green only played seven minutes against the Thunder).
— I asked David Lee about Jackson’s statements regarding the team’s first year guys, and he wasn’t shy about crediting himself and Curry for “being consistent and carrying the load,” then complimented the rookies themselves:
— Curry said he didn’t remember shimmying, but said his teammates reminded him in the locker room after the game. I’m not sure how one forgets doing something like that, but Curry was in the zone at the time (and might have shimmied himself right out of that zone).
— Mark Jackson on Curry’s moves: “Man, you know, you don’t realize who you’re impacting when you’re going through it. When an 11-, 12-year-old kid watches his dad’s teammate act a fool. I’ll tell you what, though. The way he’s playing, dance all you want.”