On a weekend where the nation's eyes were on the NFL, the Warriors were busy taking a basketball tour of Charlotte and Detroit. On their second stop in as many nights they managed to pick up a nice souvenir. Mark Jackson and his team finally put it together for 48 minutes away from the energy of the Oracle to secure their first road win of the season! But can they keep it rolling into Cleveland and New Jersey? Jump for some observations from tonight's game, and...
Finding Energy on the Road
Let's face it, the Warriors are spoiled. They play in front of the best fans in the NBA every night at home, and you almost can't blame them for coming to depend on the energy of that crowd to get them rolling and playing at their best. When you take them out of that environment and stick them in front of 10,000 empty seats, you just don't see the same passion and intensity on the court. It was painfully clear last night, and after jumping out to a quick lead it started to look like this was going to be another night where the Warriors were always a step slow, and a bit out of sync.
Bob mentioned on the broadcast sometime in the second quarter that it seemed like the Warriors were coming up short on all the 50/50 plays. They were slow to loose balls, and let some "up for grabs" plays slip through there hands. Usually when a team finds themselves consistently on the short end of these kinds of plays it's due to either a general lack of speed on the floor, or in this case more so fatigue and a lack of energy and focus.
A Tale of Two Halves
Fortunately for the Warriors, when they came out for the second half they seemed to bring a little more fire with them. Their was a focus and intensity that just wasn't there earlier in the game. Wright started playing aggressively and Monta came to life with a 17 point second half after closing the first half with only five. Suddenly all those loose balls started finding their way into the Warriors hands, and those coin flip plays started going their way. Once Lee and Monta were both clicking offensively, and the team started playing good sharp defense it was lights out for the Pistons.
Looking back on tonight's game quite a few of the notable story lines came from the big men. Not the most significant of them, but my personal favorite was Ben Wallace chucking up a three point shot. For real? Yeah, it totally happened. Another fun note was Jeremy Tyler avoiding another DNP with a whopping 34 seconds of playing time. He was so happy to see some court time that as soon as he touched the ball he jacked up a turn around jumper, fading away from the hoop. Yes, it did miss the hoop by about two feet, but at least it wasn't a three. But let's get to some of the more important stories from the post.
Yes, David Lee is overpaid. Yes, David Lee is not going to carry this team to the playoffs. Yes, he is a bad defender. Now that we got that out of the way, can we all enjoy the fact that he is playing really well right now? This is the best post offense we've seen from a Warriors player since... Somebody help me out here. David Lee and the coaching staff have done a really good job of identifying when he has the right match up, and delivering him the ball in the right spot to make him pay. He abused Jerebko on the right block tonight, and despite getting his 5th foul less than four minutes into the fourth (and fouling out in a very brief stint later in the quarter), he finished with 24pts 6reb 3ast and... wait for it... 2 BLOCKS! The second one was pretty nice too. The last few games have definitely been his best as a Warrior.
Udoh vs Monroe
This is a comparison that Warriors fans can't help but make, considering the fact that Riley chose to take Ekpe Udoh with the sixth pick in the 2010 Draft, leaving Greg Monroe to fall to 7th, and leaving many Warriors fans at the time to wonder what the hell he was thinking. Now, I'm a pretty big Udoh fan, which puts me somewhere between Evanz and the rest of the universe, but you can't help but watch Monroe and think that he would look pretty nice as our starting center right now. This season he is putting up a very efficient 18 point and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes, while chipping in 3 assists per game from the five spot. But even with Monroe dominating the career numbers comparison, I have to give Udoh credit for holding his own in the one on one match up tonight. Sure, Monroe finished with 25 and 8, but by my count Udoh held his own the times they went head to head. Udoh played nice D, blocking Monroe twice, and scored on him in the first half. I know Monroe scored on him at least once or twice, but it was clearly his toughest match up of the night. Udoh finished with a very well rounded 10 pts 6reb 3stl and 4blk.
Jackson Goes Small in 4th... Forgot About Dre?
I'm not going to question any coaching decisions that extend the lead and secure the victory, but I was surprised to see another game where Andris played very well in limited minutes and didn't get back on the court in the fourth quarter. I can understand that the Lee/Udoh combo was working late in the third and into the fourth, but with Biedrins being a significant part of grabbing that early lead, and the 12-2 run that put them ahead early in the third, you'd think Jackson would find a way to get him back on the court in the fourth quarter. Instead he chose to run with Wright and Udoh at the 4/5 after Lee was forced to sit with fouls. It worked, so I won't complain, but you have to wonder if there is anything Andris can do to play more than 20 minutes. It will be interesting to see if Jackson continues to feel more comfortable riding a small line up late in games if it continues to bring mixed results. As for tonight's game, you can mark another one down for small-ball.
I almost had to give this one to Monta for his tremendous second half performance, but Lee was aggressive all night long and put the team in a position to win. Even with his fourth quarter foul trouble, by the time he had to sit the momentum had already shifted in the Warriors favor. All in all, a great night of work in the post, and a few nice defensive plays to go along with it.