91 points between the 3
The Warriors came up with BIG win tonight. On the road trip, they took care of some of the Eastern Conference patsies but needed a real test against the playoff bound teams in the West to prove to the media and probably themselves that they are back. There was probably no better test than to face the Suns, a team on fire having won 8 in a row. The Warriors passed with flying colors.
Stephen Jackson returned to the ROARacle tonight in spectacular fashion. In his first home game of the year, Captain Jack dropped a team high 32 points on a pretty 13-21 (62%) shooting night. In a word, he was great. In fact, combine his 32 with Baron's 28 and Monta's 31 you have three guys combine for 91 points, good for 70% of the team's points. If Baron had only hit on one more bucket, the team would have had 3 players with 30 or more points. That's pretty ridiculous.
But the game was sealed shut by #8 Monta Ellis and his 15 straight points for the Warriors in the 4th quarter. Nash couldn't keep up with him and with every mid-range jumper he hit, his confidence grew. But he didn't force any shots, he just let the game come to him. Whatever the Suns were willing to give him, he took advantage of. Back off of him? He hit the jumper. Get too close? He blows by you.
The crowd even began to chant his name, Monta! Monta! The kid is growing up. He literally took over in the 4th, something I've never seen him do. It's probably something he couldn't do last year. Is this a sign of things to come? Hopefully. Here's essentially what I saw from Monta tonight:
See Monta dunk
See Monta abuse Nash
See Monta finish off the Suns
What I also enjoyed tonight was Matt Barnes. His nickname should be "Hustle and Flow". He's got some crazy personal things going on in his life right now, but has the energy and concentration to play a great game. He's all over the place offensively and defensively. He sets people up on offense and can knock down the open jumper. ON defense, he swarms the ball and gets his hand on a lot of passes for deflections. Look at his line tonight, 8 points (3-5 shooting, 2-2 from 3 pointers), 7 boards, 7 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. That's called filling the stat sheet.
In the preview, I wrote about 3 key matchups, Baron vs Nash, Jackson vs Marion, and Biedrins vs Amare. Let's revisit those, the Warrior Wonder, and a special something at the end, after the jump!
Baron not sure what Nash is doing
Baron celebrates his victory in the PG matchup
Baron vs Nash
Baron won the PG matchup. He came to play tonight, Nash not so much. Baron put in 28 points (11-24, 46%), had 10 assists, 6 boards, and 2 steals to go along with the W. Pretty numbers. Nash had 13 assists, but I never felt the Phoenix offense was clicking. In fact, the Phoenix offense seemed to sputter at times with players not sure what they should be doing. Throw in Nash's 8 turnovers and getting absolutely killed by Monta in the 4th, and I think it's clear that Baron had the upper hand tonight.
Jumper is... good!
Stack Jack vs The Matrix
In the preview, I wrote that this would be the most interesting matchup and would decide the game. Did it? Maybe. I was wrong about them matching up directly with each other though. I thought they would be guarding each other but Mike D'Antoni decided against that as he had Marion guarding Baron to try to disrupt the offensive flow. Jackson checked Marion when the Warriors were on defense and I'm sure contributed to the poor shooting exhibited by Marion. Jack had his 32 points and 8 rebounds while Marion had just 10 points on a very poor shooting night (5-14, 36%) and 14 rebounds. I'd say Stephen won this matchup hands down. While Marion was a big reason the Suns were even close, Jackson was huge as a catalyst for the Warriors.
The disappointed expression captures the Suns loss
Biedrins vs Amare
It turns out this matchup wasn't what I thought it would be. First off, Nellie chose to go away from Beans this game and get more skilled offensive players in the game. Al Harrington started and played well. This took away minutes from Biedrins because Nellie just didn't want the two in there at the same time. Thus, Biedrins played just 13 minutes. Despite the matchup never materializing, it was still fun to watch the Warriors crack down on Amare. With his size, quickness, leaping ability, and skill around the basket, I thought Amare would dominate, but he didn't. He was in foul trouble for part of the night so he was limited to just 28 minutes. I thought the Suns didn't use him enough on the block when he was in the game, but maybe that was due to the Warriors swarming defense.
On a side note, what was scary is that during warmups Amare was practicing his mid-range jumper and knocking down the baseline 20 footer time after time. Not only did he look real smooth in doing it, but I have a suspicion that he's soon going to add that mid-range game to his inside game and just be a menace. It'll be real scary when he does get confident enough to take those mid-range jumpers. If he can hit them, you have to go out there and guard him. He's so quick that if you aren't careful he'll blow by you and bang, you get dunked on. Scary.
All in all, a great win for the suddenly red-hot Warriors. The 45 first quarter points were just a joy to behold. Both teams were on fire and just running and running like never before. On every made basket the inbounds pass was caught near half court, that's how fast the ball got to the frontcourt. What a fun game to watch!
We've now won 6 of 7 and are looking like the team that put together the run to the and through the playoffs last year. On Wednesday, we look to get back to .500 and then on Thursday welcome the Rockets to town. Go Warriors!
I could have given it to Jackson, but Monta was electric in the 4th. Every time he touched the ball, you could see it in his body language that he knew he was going to score. Whether it was a jumper over Nash, Marion or whoever else tried to guard him or a drive in the lane, Monta could not be stopped and he is your Warrior Wonder for the game. It's great to see him keep putting up big games after his slow start. Say it with me now, the MIP is back!
A Special Something
I said there would be something special at the end of the recap so here it is. We're giving out a pair of our GSOM season tickets for this Thursday's game against Yao, Tmac, and the Rockettes. You can win 2 lower bowl tickets - section 109, row 27. Just check back tonight (Tuesday, November 27) at 8pm for the contest. In the meantime, leave your thoughts on tonight's game in the comments.