I...I'm speechless. Is this for real? Am I dreaming? If I'm dreaming please, please don't wake me up. First we beat Utah, the team with the best record in the league and now we beat the Spurs, the team with the second best record in the league? Oh my.
The Warriors weren't supposed to win this one either. No Baron, no Pietrus, and no Diogu? Now they've won twice without those guys against the best teams in the league. They really epitomize what it means to be a team. Everyone is stepping up right now to cover for the injured guys. Good teams pick up for each other and that's exactly what's going on here. If you're not excited about the Warriors after this win, please go get your pulse checked. This team is legit and should finally get some respect from the national media. You don't knock off the top two teams in consecutive games and not get some recognition.
With these two major wins, this could be a serious turning point in the season. Instead of doing what many expected and losing the two games and winding up 7-8, the Warriors defied most people and are now 9-6. Mark it down on your calendars, November 27, 2006, is the day the Warriors turned the page on mediocrity and moved on to playoff basketball.
Now, to the game...
The first half was awesome. The Warriors were down early, hung tough and took the lead, only to have the Spurs tie the game at the half. The Warriors proved to everyone in the Oracle Arena that they could hang with this team and keep this game close. You could tell none of the players were intimidated by the mighty Spurs.
The first half was highlighted by JRich who shot 8-13 from the field to really keep the Warriors in the game. It seemed like he was hitting everything, layups, mid-range jumpers, three pointers, his stroke was there in the first half.
Smooth operator, smoooooooth operatooooor (you have to know the song)
The surprise of the first half was the solid play of Keith McLeod. In previous games, I felt he didn't contribute much to the team, but tonight with Monta struggling from the get go, McLeod really stepped it up. He was all over the place on defense and ran the offense efficiently. Without his first half contribution, the Warriors might have been down 10 instead of tied.
But this game was all about the 2nd half...
Dunleavy got a weird reaction from the crowd
They gave him a nice ovation when he went to sit down for a rest. That hasn't happened in a very very long time. Usually he gets booed, but tonight he really stepped up his game and I'm glad the crowd acknowledged his fine play. Stuck with only 3 points in the first half and not really making an impact, Dunleavy came out strong in the 2nd half. He scored 17 points and keyed a 13-0 run with some nice hustle plays, a couple layups, and a big 3 ball. There were numerous times where he was on the floor scrambling for a loose ball or pulling down a rebound in traffic. He finished the night with 20 points, 5 boards, 4 assists, and 4 steals. One of those steals was quite memorable as he came from the backside of Duncan and just poked the ball away igniting a fast break. He's had his ups and downs, but if he continues to hustle and knock down shots like he did tonight, this team will be much better off. Let's hope the crowd lays off the boos for awhile after having such a great night.
On a side note, I really wanted to put a picture of Dunleavy and some hustle play or a 3 point shot, but there are no AP or ESPN photos of him. Next time.
Matt Barnes, hustler extraordinaire
So, um, how was this guy an unwanted free agent? My goodness, I love what he brings to the team. He did it all tonight. He had 13 points, 7 boards, 6 assists, and lots of hustle. His D was solid, he hit some nice shots, and was able to contribute by spreading the ball around and hitting cutters for some nice layups.
You know what? I don't want to forget his horrible first 3 quarters where he had just 5 points, numerous turnovers and missed shots. You know why? He came back in the 4th quarter unfazed, dropped 14 points, knocked down clutch free throws, and handled the ball in the final 2 minutes to seal the win. What did we learn about Monta after this game? He's able to forget the past and keep moving forward. Big time players are able to do that and Monta is quickly becoming one. Tonight he didn't let his poor play in the first 3 quarters get him down. He knew the team needed him to step up in the 4th and that's exactly what he did. Now, where can I go get a Monta jersey?
Came up big in the 4th
Beans, Beans, he makes you...
He makes me sit in my seat and marvel at how much he's improved. I love watching him play now. He matched Duncan tonight in the boxscore, but more importantly, he held his own down low against the All-Star. During that 13-0 run in the 4th, Biedrins was able fend off Duncan who touched the ball every single time down the court. His defense during that period was nothing short of amazing. He blocked Duncan a couple times, changed some shots with help defense, and was able to stay away from the fouls. His line of 18 points, 15 boards, 4 assists (!) and 6 blocks, really says it all. He did everything tonight especially when it counted the most.
Mr. Biedrins' neighborhood
What Achilles heel?
Free throws. Free throws. Free throws. You need to knock them down in the 4th quarter in order to win against good teams. So all the Warriors did was make 13 of 14 free throws in the 4th and 20-24 overall. They sealed the victory tonight FROM THE LINE. Biedrins hit 2 big ones and is now 9-11 from the line in his last 3 games. This shooting doctor seems to really be paying off for AB.
Warrior Wonder: I had such a hard time deciding on who deserved this award. It could go to Mike Dunleavy for his hustle, scoring contribution, and just doing the small things to help the team win. Or it could go to Monta Ellis for his clutch play down the stretch, despite struggling the first 3 quarters. But I really have to give the award to Andris Biedrins for shutting down the middle during the Warriors 13-0 run and stellar play against one of the league's best post players.
As always, leave your thoughts and observations in the comments section.
*NOTE: JRich was interviewed after the game and said his knee is about 80% right now. So he's still probably a few weeks away from being 100%.