Great way to end a two-game homestand and start a 6-game Eastern Conference road trip!
Jermaine O'Neal played like it was 2004, dominating his matchup with similar heralded veteran Kevin Garnett, putting up a season-high 23 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. With several nasty dunks, the oft-injured center had his first double-double of the season, leading the Warriors to a third straight victory. O'Neal made 10 of 13 field goals, scoring off pick-and-roll dunks, put-back dunks, and great post-up moves. He also made all three of his (counted) free throws - he got another shot off a lane violation by Andrei Kirilenko, which he made. That sneaky veteran!
LOTN (special S/O): @jermaineoneal 23 pts, 13 rebs, 10-13 FG, 3-3 FT, W— Chris Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) February 23, 2014
Jason Kidd made his coaching debut in the Bay Area, where he grew up and starred at Cal before becoming a Hall of Fame point guard. His team relied on isolations, isolations, and (guess what) even more isolations; on the future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and All-Stars Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. In the first half, it semi-worked out for Brooklyn, as Golden State couldn't get its hands out of the way on defense, fouling 14 times, leading to 21 free throws - of which the Nets made 18. To contrast, at halftime Golden State had made four of only seven free throws. Free throws (and the propensity and which they shot them in the first half) kept the Nets in the game, down just three at half despite shooting just 44% and not hitting a single three.
In the second half, Golden State tightened up defensively, allowing the Nets to shoot just three free throws. The Warriors started sagging off the Nets and daring them to shoot jumpers; as a result, Brooklyn shot just 39% in the second half and 2-16 from three-point land. Williams, Johnson, and Pierce combined to shoot 55% of Brooklyn's 78 total field goal attempts, and made just 16 of 43 shots between them. This high amount of volume and inefficiency, along with only seven offensive rebounds, would have totally put the Nets out of it but for the first-half free throw bulk.
On the other end, despite Jermaine O'Neal having his game of the season, the Warriors were relatively inefficient offensively, shooting about 44% for the game, just 40% in the second half. That's what happens when Draymond Green - 5 for 16 from the floor - and Jordan Crawford - 2 for 10 - take more shots than Stephen Curry and O'Neal, and Klay Thompson shoots just 3-10 as well. Curry and O'Neal were the only Warriors with over eight shot attempts to shoot over 50% from the field. Andre Iguodala did chip in eight points on 50% shooting and six assists. Steve Blake had a really solid, efficient game off the bench with six points, five assists, a steal, and no turnovers in his 16 minutes.
Key Stats: Nets 2-3 FTs in 2nd Half, 2-21 3-pt for Game
In the second half, the Warriors were content to let Johnson, Pierce, and Williams shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. Without any real inside presence and the Warriors doing a good job team-wide in playing defense with their feet, not their hands, the Nets weren't really able to get any fouls called in the second half. It wasn't like the Nets were attacking the rim that hard; despite missing every three in the first half, Brooklyn was content to bomb away from deep in the second half as well, shooting 16 threes and making just two.
Nets hit 2-of-21 threes. First time a Warriors opponent has attempted at least 20 threes and hit fewer than 10% since 2002 (Boston)— GSWStats (@gswstats) February 23, 2014
The Warriors dominated in every facet of the game outside of free throws, outscoring the Nets 52-38 in the key, out-rebounding them 50-39, ending plus-6 in turnovers (16 for Brooklyn, just 10 for the Warriors), and 10-2 in fast break points.
Because of the inefficiency that comes with Draymond Green, bad-night Jordan Crawford, and slumping Klay Thompson (just 21 for his last 57 field goal attempts) take most of the team's shots, the game was close as the final minutes approached. Yet Golden State played solid defense, holding the Nets to just nine points on 40% in the last five minutes, per NBA.com, while scoring 13 of their own on 50% FG and 8-8 from the line. Credit Green, who had a career-high 18 points as part of his second career double-double, with making six massive free throws down the stretch. Also, a Stephen Curry BANKED-IN THREE POINTER with 37.6 seconds left helped a lot.
STEPHEN CURRY DAGGER THREE OFF THE GLASS!
— Dime Smash! (@DimeSmash) February 23, 2014
Warrior Wonder: Jermaine O'Neal
What a game: 23 points, 13 rebounds, 3-3 FT, plus-12, and some NASTY dunks. He's still got it.
Up Next: @ Detroit Pistons
Monday afternoon begins the first contest of a six-game Eastern Conference road trip. Pistons, Bulls, Knicks in MSG (could Curry go for 60 this time?), Rapters and Drake, and finishing with a back-to-back at Indiana (Warriors looking for revenge) and Boston. Golden State destroyed the Pistons last time in November, and should be able to dominate a team struggling to score; Detroit ranks in the bottom half of the league in points scored per possession. With the Warriors third-ranked defense (tops in the West!!!), Golden State should suffocate a team struggling with its spacing, a lousy offensive team unable to find any real bright spots outside of the brilliant Andre Drummond, and a disorganized team that recently fired its coach. Once again, it's important for the Warriors to take care of teams they should beat, and start long, significant road trips off on the right note. Three in a row should become four in a row. Hopefully the Warriors take care of business.