Just like on Wednesday night, tonight’s Golden State Warriors game came readymade with a narrative. How convenient for me, a producer and consumer of such things! A couple nights ago Mark Jackson told everyone that the upcoming game against the Phoenix Suns was the “biggest game of our season.” Tonight, Jackson had an announcement of a different kind: Andrew Bogut would miss the game and be out indefinitely with back spasms, depending on what came up on an MRI.
In the end, Bogut’s injury, the alternate uniforms with sleeves and everything else were afterthoughts. The Warriors’ comeback overtime win over the San Antonio Spurs showed that the six-game losing streak didn’t necessarily portend absolute doom, and showed that Golden State’s commitment to defense and each other didn’t vanish in that depressing period surrounding the All-Star Break.
Biggest game of the year on Wednesday night, biggest win of the year two nights later.
“To be down 80-67 against a team that executes you to death and to continue to make plays,” Jackson said. “We kept our heads together, inspired each other and encouraged each other. The credit goes to those players because they battled.”
Credit goes to David Lee, who scored 25 points and grabbed 22 points. Jarrett Jack was the star, with 30 points, 10 assists and at least that many references to possibly winning the Sixth Man of the Year award during postgame interviews. Stephen Curry got better as this game went on, and he had the key assist on Jack’s three that gave the Warriors a 2-point lead with seven seconds to go in regulation.
Then the Spurs ran a classic give-and-go inbounds play with Manu Ginobili giving and going to the hole for a layup that added five extra minutes to the game. On the play, rookie Harrison Barnes was absolutely abused. In overtime with the Warriors up by 3 with 22 seconds to go, the Spurs ran the exact same inbounds play. Only this time, another rookie (Draymond Green) was guarding Ginobili. Green stayed with the Argentinian and along with Klay Thompson — who was tremendous all night defensively after putting up some beautiful offensive numbers two nights ago against Phoenix — got the steal.
I asked Jackson whether he was surprised that the Spurs ran the same play twice in similar situations, and here’s what he said:
It wasn’t just that the Warriors played better defense than they did during the losing streak and reversed an ugly trend of opponents making a high percentage of threes (the Spurs only made 4-of-22 from beyond the arc). Yes, the Warriors pursued better and faster. But they were also more physical than we saw for the week-plus leading into the break.
Curry came out of the game bruised but not beaten, and I asked him about his shiner (it came on a foul in overtime) and the physical style the Warriors showed off on Friday night.
Remember when after the Warriors beat the Heat in Miami (the only competition with this win over San Antonio for the title of “biggest win of the season”) and Jack told Jim Barnett that Floyd Mayweather put $100,000 on the Warriors before that game? Well, I had the bright idea of asking Jack if Money Mayweather had any money on this game. The results were decidedly mixed.
It’s wins like this that make Bob Myers look pretty darned smart for saying after the trade deadline (and before) that they want to see what this group can do. We may never see what this group can do with a healthy Bogut this year, but I think we’ve seen enough to know that if this team doesn’t have Jack next season (he’s in the midst of a very lucrative contract year) things just won’t be the same.