Final Yahoo! Boxscore
Nellie must have showed the Warriors this during the film session in preparation for the their game against Denver.
"Double team" was the play of the game as Warriors figured to swarm and contain foul-drawing machines, Allen Iverson, Linus Kleiza, and Carmelo Anthony. Hardly the offensive showcase of Friday's battle, last night's game featured some discipline on the defensive end, where Denver was held to below 35% shooting and coughing up 24 turnovers. The Warriors' hands and feet were active early; anticipating where key players like to go led to blocks and steals that begat our new favorite play: The Runout. We have a lot to learn from Dennis Rodman when he says, "Defense wins the game!"
This might have been the most emotional I've seen Nellie get this season. That red shirt was not flattering either.
This isn't to say Denver wasn't able to attack the Warriors soft interior at will. In fact, many times, the driving Denver player (fill in blank with anyone) was typically uncontested with several Warriors standing several feet away. Imagine a b-boy cypher if you will. One on one, only Biedrins seemed capable of holding his man or any Denver player (fill in blank with whoever) from taking it to the rack. Though not sending away shots, he managed to disrupts shots enough to make them brick them.
But basketball isn't individual play, but a team game. And at least they tried and succeeded early on in the game in disrupting the rhythm of their stars by using team defense. The semi suffocating defense against the stars seemed to create a domino effect of poor shooting or lack of confidence for that matter amongst the rest of the Nuggets. So while unable to necessarily zone (or man) up the Nuggets, the Warriors psychologically locked them down. How many wide open looks did the Nuggets have in the second half? And weren't they moving the ball much more efficiently than the Warriors? There's no other explanation.
Warriors were lurking everywhere
At any rate, the Warriors must have listened to us (or Van Damme and Dennis Rodman for that matter) as they shut down a decent team with some major talent and talented big men. It was nice to see the Warriors find a way to score despite shooting as horribly as the Nuggets. Stephen Jackson, who had bricks that the Commodores aren't interested in, got the hot hand and shot the Warriors back into the game. As always, the Warriors go wherever Baron takes them; another MVP performance with some sharp shooting in the 4th, while only up by a few points, that shifted the momentum for good in the Warriors favor. Al Harrington was by far the most offensively efficient man on the court (18 points in 19 minutes).
Here are a few quick points from the game:
As mentioned earlier, this made all the difference. Forcing others outside the Nugget's big two seemed to be too huge a responsibility for others who seemed to feed of the success of their leaders. Either that, or they were just disinterested on a lazy sunday evening.
Warriors forcing Nuggets into funny looking shots
Does Barnes' fullcourt bombs or hail marys to Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson get you excited? I hope so, because it's the one play that you know we're going to score with. The Warriors probably got at least a dozen or so points just off this strategy alone, perhaps beating the Suns' average time to score of 3.4 seconds. Barnes might be the best outlet passer in the Warriors history, second only to Adonal Foyle maybe.
No, I'm not talking like that guy in section 109 who screams "Make your free throws please!!!" My chant would be "Take some free throws, PLEASE!" At one point in the game, the Warriors had 14 attempts to the Nuggets 40 attempts. Maybe you could blame it on poor officiating, but I guess you can't expect to get to the line when 40% of your shots a game are threes. Granted, you could see that number of threes that go in offset free throws, but allowing the opponent to get freethrows just keeps them in the game. It would be nice to see the Warriors get some easier shots or even some mid range ones that would keep the opponents defense off-balance.
Though Pietrus' minutes and impact on the court have diminished in recent weeks, he has become the first man off the bench usually (which might not be saying much since Kelenna and Barnes have been playing pretty inconsistently lately). In over 26 minutes of play, Pietrus made the difference on the defensive end with his hustle points. One key steal off Allen Iverson in the backcourt allowed for an easy two for Baron that allowed us to maintain our lead in the 4th quarter. Pietrus' role might not be to be a scorer at this point, but if he's able to continue providing defense like this off the bench, maybe his offensive skills will come around as well.
So, the guy was -5 for the game, but I'm digging his game. Not only is he the only player in the NBA named Linus (and how often do you hear this name anymore anyway), but the dude can ball. At 6-9 and 245, he's ability to attack the basket at that size probably only seen in a few players throughout the league; Lebron James being one of them. He's a pretty decent shooter and got some handles to boot. Definitely a tough match at the forward or even guard position. Plus, the dude's name is Linus!
The dude can outhustle the ultimate hustler (hehe) Eduardo Najera
Aside from Tim Thomas, Nene could quite possibly be the biggest waste of talent in the NBA? Okay, maybe I'm being too harsh and I haven't seen him play much. One of the quickest big men at his size, Nene supposedly doesn't train in the offseason (and it shows with his playing weight) and, like the Shop Boyz, parties like a rockstar, too, back at home in Brazil. Anyway, I used to think he would have been a nice fit with the Warriors with his offensive skill set, but I'm pretty glad we're not taking on his 9 million a year contract.
Baron Davis. Davis knew how to attack the hoop at the right times, making tough shots when no one else could. More importantly he had 11 free throw attempts and missed 1.
Photos courtesy of Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images, AP Photo/David Zalubowski and AP Photo/George Nikitin.