Yahoo! Final boxscore
Lil things poppin'... big things stopping!
Baron is able to score with the least amount of space available.
I know this doesn't follow T.I.'s mantra, but it suits perfectly the Warriors take down of the #1 team in the Western Conference. The smaller Warriors got physical and dismantled a team that dismantled them not too long ago. Chris Paul and the Hornets "twin towers" David West and Tyson Chandler still had extremely solid games; but, the Warriors just made more clutch plays this game than they did, especially when it counted down the stretch.
The game proved to be much more than I expected: two MVP caliber point guards, two rapidly developing defensive minded centers clogging up the lanes, and gifted players in the immediate pipeline (West and Monta). After heading down the stretch neck and neck, the Warriors adjustments from the first time they played paid off as they jumped out to a 19 point lead with less than 3 minutes to go in the 4th.
The Warriors were hardly the basketball version of "Raid" bug spray and repelent, but they seemed to figure some strategies for containing the Hornets inside and outside attack. The Hornet's balanced attack of outside (Peja and CP3) and inside (David West and less so Tyson Chandler) was tempered by a team-oriented defense. West still went for his (23 pts, 14 rbs, and 5 blocks); sometimes it just look a little too easy where he practically went untouched. But more often than not, he was forced into a much more difficult shot with the double team coming to help out before he made his move. Though he didn't shoor terribly, West, bodied by multiple Warriors into the lane, looked awkward having to shoot a jump hook versus his bread and butter wing jumper from 15 or putback from 2-3 feet. Both Matt Barnes, Stephen Jackson, and Andris Biedrins did excellent jobs playing West straight up at different times during the game as well.
West is surprised to see 3 Warriors collapsing on him
The Warriors did a strong job containing Tyson Chandler as well, limiting him to 11pts and 14 rebounds. In the first time these two teams met this season, we saw Paul and Chandler connecting for alleyoops like Brady and Moss for TD passes; there was little of that tonight at all. Tyson Chandler, living off second chance points, still created second chance opportunities batting -- or spiking for that matter -- the ball out whenever possible. Yet, it wasn't so easy for them tonight as 4 Warriors were usually seen crowding the lane rebounding collectively. Keeping Chandler from going for double digits in rebounding is tough, but making sure he isn't flexing to the camera guys is another thing, which the Warriors did a good job of containing.
The Warriors played the bullies for once
And if that wasn't enough, here's MORE defensive excitement. Andris Biedrins, playing in limited minutes, had an extremely productive game. Biedrins did a decent job working against West and deflecting shots in the lane, bothering Jannero Pargo and Chris Paul more than a few times. Though he was missing for most of the 1st and 3rd quarter, he was a closer like Kyra Sedgwick (but less wrinkly of course), making several key defensive stops throughout the 4th. Biedrins has looked hungrier the last few games, battling for better position and working harder for second chance opportunities on the offensive glass. Could Biedrins be the next Chandler sans the annoying flexing?
Andris got more style and looks that Kyra Sedgwick's got plastic surgery
But the great effort on the defensive end was matched by a great showing offensively. In a nutshell, everyone played their part; as the overused metaphor goes, it was like "Voltron." Nothing on the offensive end seemed forced -- or maybe that's just because the shots were falling. There was no Stephen Jackson driving straight into a crowd of people looking for a foul. Nor was Baron (or everyone else for that matter) looking to jack a tre when given the chance. Barnes wasn't looking to take his man one on one. There were no errant Monta drives into the lane either. The Warriors looked patient though by no means stagnant, which was a relief. Rarely did you see Baron or Jackson dribbling the clock off. Instead, there seemed to be something somewhat premeditated
Flashing Lights? Nah, just Monta
Baron Davis put up another MVP performance, sticking a dagger to any Hornets run with several deep threes throughout the game. Though prone to disappear for lengths of time during a game, Monta has expanded his offense some in recent games as he's create offense more for others. Towards the end of the game, he had a sweet behind his head dish to a cutting Biedrins behind him. Granted, Monta probably took too many steps to make that pass, but it was a nice gesture anyway. Barnes came out of his funk and got a few easy buckets near the basket. Both Jack and Harrington have gotten out of their shooting funk and at probably the right time. It was nice to see some variety in the shot selection from those two (and the others), where there was more of a deliberated plan of attack. Whether or not there ever is a premeditated offensive plan, there was more perimeter passing, more isolations based off mismatches, and much more higher percentage shots (jumpers from within the arc for once). They seemed committed to sharing; it looked as if Mullin has instituted that grade-school basketball team drill where you couldn't shoot during a scrimmage unless there was a minimum of 5 passes. Most important play perhaps was how the Warriors cleverly seemed to get everyone to post up on Jannero Pargo.
It goes to Stephen Jackson. It's not just for his great shooting night, but also for his tremendous defense against David West and Tyson Chandler. He was a complete player tonight and stepped up to the challenge like a captain should.
Photos courtest of AP Photo/Bill Haber, Layne Murdoch/NBAE via GetImages and Chris Graythen/Getty Images.