Andre Iguodala hit his second game-winning shot of the season, and team #FullSquad is riding a confidence wave larger than anything you’ll see at Mavericks on its biggest day. The Golden State Warriors, who put together a near-perfect offensive performance in Miami the night before, played completely mediocre basketball a night later through three quarters … but won anyway.
That’s what good teams do. They sometimes flail for 36 minutes against bad teams, because the NBA schedule is brutal. But the good teams come out and score 37 points in the fourth quarter. The good teams have a star like Stephen Curry, who makes up for nine turnovers with 14 fourth quarter points. The good teams hear some jabroni yelling at Curry to “PUT YOUR MOUTH PIECE BACK IN,” they file that away, and after they hit the game-winner they point and laugh.
The Warriors are now 22-13. While a perfect game would’ve been a 20-point victory and a fourth quarter of rest for the starters, instead Mark Jackson saw early that the starters didn’t have a blowout in them after putting forth as much effort as they did in their glorious win against the Heat the night before. So he gave the bench some extra run, and despite some ugly basketball the game never got out of hand.
“We had been bad for the majority of the night,” Jackson said. Man, was he right. But things still worked out.
Harrison Barnes started out 1-for-9, but he finished with a layup, a dunk and a three-pointer after the Hawks took a 91-76 lead. But what happened after the Warriors’ comeback led to a 96-95 advantage told the story of this game better than all the stagnant offense and tired legs we saw over the first 36 minutes.
Curry fouled Paul Millsap, who made both free throws. Millsap scored inside over David Lee on the next possession, and after Curry barely missed a long three, Jeff Teague was fouled and made one of two free throws to give the Hawks a four-point lead. Iguodala found Curry for a quick layup, and then the Warriors played one of their better defensive possessions of the game. Andre Iguodala didn’t just force Millsap into a tough 20-foot jumper that he missed, he also grabbed the rebound with 3.2 seconds left.
Then Iguodala was the one who sent the Warriors to the locker room happy after he inbounded to Curry, Curry got double-teamed and found Iguodala. Ballgame.
This isn’t just good news in terms of winning streaks and happy times in the present; the Warriors went into this season with real questions about who’d take the final shots when games were tied or the Warriors were down by three or less. Now the Warriors have several choices: Curry, then Iguodala, then Klay Thompson (who had 21 points and was the only guy who could do much of anything in the beginning of this game).
Since #FullSquad is all the rage right now, we should probably mention David Lee’s effort (23 points on 9-of-16 shooting) and Andrew Bogut, who suffered a calf strain in Miami and played an outstanding 18 minutes (6 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks) anyway. The Warriors are all about the “process” Jackson always mentions whenever anyone gets hurt, but one can’t help but wonder whether the team’s success with their top seven players all active will lead them to play through minor injuries more often than they otherwise would. Good teams do that, too.