Warriors fans know that going into Denver and walking away with a win hasn't been an easy task in recent memory, but thanks to some key Nugget injuries the Dubs had an opportunity to make it five losses in a row for Denver, and they took advantage. Thanks to some impressive performances from Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and others, this one was basically a blow out until Mark Jackson sent in all the young pups late in the fourth quarter and watched them let most of the big lead slip away. Hit the Jump for some Quarter Notes and tonight's Warrior Wonder.
- 1st Quarter: All Steph all the time. Last time against the Thunder it was Monta who came out with guns blazing, but last night in Denver it was Steph's turn to take over the game early. The basket looked huge for Steph as he dropped in 15 of his 36 points in the first. Also of note is that Andris Biedrins chipped in about seven and a half minutes that didn't totally suck, including two nice blocks. Sigh... I wish that wasn't something of note.
- 2nd Quarter: Cue Kenny and Chuck "What kind of party is it? It's a BLOCK PARTY!" If Andris was the one to send out invitations to this particular brand of neighborhood gathering with his two blocks in the first, then I think we can safely call Ekpe Udoh the host of the party. Udoh blocked four shots in the 2nd (he finished with five) and challenged many more. Soon everybody was getting in on the action. Dominic McGuire and Dorell Wright both had blocks in the second quarter, and Steph even blocked poor Al Harrington when he tried to go up for a lay in. This was exactly the reminder Al needed that he can't finish inside, so he quickly retreated to the three point line where he drilled one to keep the game close.
- 3rd Quarter: This is where the Warriors made their run and took over the game. The starters came out of halftime sharp and went on a 23-5 run. Steph Curry continued to fill it up, and Dorell nailed three long balls as well. When the dust settled the dubs had outscored the Nuggets 37-20 in the third and pushed the lead to 13.
- 4th Quarter: If there was any doubt about the outcome of the game early in the fourth quarter it was put to rest when the line-up of Curry, Thompson, Rush, Udoh, and Lee went on a 12-2 run about four minutes in. Klay "the Kloser" Thompson stole the show again in the fourth by almost single-handedly carrying the load on offense with his 14 fourth quarter points. This kid is making me a believer. His shooting is as good as advertised, but I've been surprised at how well he moves without the ball, and he's definitely impressed me with his ball handling. He's not just a floor spreading stand-still shooter like Rush or Dorell. He can find ways to get open, and take advantage when the defense closes hard on him.
Rotation Sensation Revisited
It could just be because of Nate Robinson's injury, but I like the way coach Jackson has been mixing up the line-ups more since the loss to the Kings. There were a number of effective line-ups that blended the strengths of the starters with the bench, including that Curry, Thompson, Rush, Udoh, Lee unit that made the critical run late in the game to close it out.
Finding an Identity
Being a "jump shooting team" might carry with it some negative connotations, but it seems like the Warriors are continuing to embrace a perimeter oriented identity on offense, and it seems to be working for them. The Dubs just don't have the talent on the roster to play a true inside-out game, so they have been doing the next best thing in using their three point shooters to space the floor and stretch the defense. This has been opening up the pick and roll game for David Lee, and creating lanes for penetrating guards.
They haven't totally embraced small-ball seeing as there are still two big men on the floor the vast majority of the time, but there have been some key, if somewhat subtle, changes. First of all, the floor spacing in general is much better than it was earlier in the year. We haven't been seeing shooters clump up on the perimeter as much, and the off the ball movement is much better. They've been playing more effectively in the sets with Lee at the high post with shooters coming off down-screens. Putting all that pressure on the defense to keep up with shooters moving without the ball has been paying dividends, and creating opportunities all over the floor. Another key has been getting into early offense. There is less dribbling down the shot clock, and more attacking when there is an early opportunity. It seems like things are starting to flow more naturally on that end of the floor.
Wardell Stephen Curry II (that's for you MB)
Steph had one of the best games of his career finishing with 36pts 7ast 7reb 2blk (yes, two blocks) and only one turnover. If he keeps this up he might just end up being as good as Jeremy Lin.