This was a strange game, and you had to laugh when they kicked it to TNT’s Inside the NBA postgame show and Ernie Johnson complained about how long the last minute took. Who could blame him; it was 1:22 am where they were and the referees seemed like they were in the mood to officiate the entire game via replay. But this was a game the Warriors won after the final replay showed Andre Iguodala’s buzzer beater didn’t beat the buzzer, and for a game in late November it was an important win, given the opponent and the way this day started for the Warriors.
The Warriors had to feel like they were looking in the mirror tonight, and not just because they’ve played the Nuggets three times in the last 20 days. Both teams have similar uniforms, similar records and similar makeups — relatively deep, young rosters who don’t really know what they can combine to achieve yet. After losing twice to the Nuggets, including a game at Oracle that they (and by “they,” I mostly mean Klay Thompson) gave away in overtime, the Warriors pulled out the sort of game they never seem to win. At least not before this season.
Tonight, Thompson was one of the reasons why the Warriors won a game that got ragged near the end, grabbing 9 rebounds and making 10-of-19 shots. Stephen Curry had 10 assists, 4 steals and made some clutch jumpers in a performance that was also helpful in the 106-105 victory. Jarrett Jack came through as well. He may have missed the last two shots the Warriors attempted and put Iguodala on the line for three shots with three seconds remaining (more on that later), but Jack also made the game-winning basket. He also went 3-of-4 on threes and had the highest +/- on the team (+11).
So what does it mean that David Lee was the worst in that last department (-6) on a 31/9/6 night when he made 13-of-15 FGs? It’s tough to tell, besides Lee and Thompson are starting to make their shots after struggling from the field early this season. Over the last four games, Lee (61.9%) and Thompson (50.7%) have shot better, even though Thompson is still only making a third (9-of-27) of his threes, 1-for-6 tonight.
The nice thing about having a full roster of NBA players — unlike last year — is that the Warriors can win in different ways. Kenneth Faried can block five shots without crippling the Warriors’ chances. Harrison Barnes disappeared on national television one game after slamming what might have been the dunk of the year against Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic, but Thompson’s heady play in the fourth quarter tonight definitely helps his cause when Mark Jackson goes small at the end of games.
Thompson caught the Nuggets by surprise when he sprinted away with that loose ball that clearly hit the baseline, leading to the layup by David Lee that gave the Warriors a 94-93 lead, their first lead since four minutes remained in the second quarter.
That call was more blatantly bad than the one that sent Iguodala to the line for three foul shots when Jack was trying to take advantage of the Warriors being under the foul limit, but neither call was as bad as this one made by the same crew on Tuesday night. (Thanks to @davidtiao for alerting me to this hilarious minute of incompetence.)
Block on Kevin Love, charge on DeMarcus Cousins! Double foul! In case you’re wondering, these officiating savants go by the names of Ron Garretson, John Goble and Brent Barnaky.
Tonight’s wacky win came on the heels of a pretty rough morning for the Warriors’ front office, which led to an afternoon where GM Bob Myers went on Chronicle Live (Marcus Thompson posted the full transcript here). Myers said the blame ultimately rides with him for the perception that the Warriors mishandled how Andrew Bogut’s microfracture surgery was communicated. With Myers’ mea culpa and the Warriors winning, my assumption is this story will blow over. Perhaps the positives will outweigh the negatives in all this — the main point is that there was very little to be gained and much risked by rushing Bogut back to the court, and that surely won’t happen now.