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Baron Davis cares about all his fans!
The Warriors are a team of streaks.
They ended their decade plus years in the NBA N.I.T (the lottery) last year. They continued their losing streak against the Lakers the other day and possibly again later on this week. But they finally ended a streak of sorts against the Spurs, beating them last night in a closer than it seems 96-84 win.
After a dominating first half filled with easy buckets and great defense, the Warriors managed to hold off Tim Duncan's surrogate, Matt Bonner (25points and 17 rebounds). I guess the streak of letting the random scrub on the other team have his career night will never die. In one of the uglier games of the season (both teams shooting below 40%), the Warriors did it defensively with hustle plays and swarming defenses that stifled both Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker, forcing them into 11 turnovers (TO total: Spurs 21 vs. Warriors 9). Granted, there was no Duncan, but its nice to see the Warriors showing some maturity; they were able to hold their lead against a still well-coached and talented (yet aging) Spurs teams. I know I say this all the time, but it's promising when the Warriors are finally winning games that they should be!
Doesn't that suck for the teams that have never won a game to not have anything on their warmups? And isn't it a little weird, too, to post how the last championship was over 30 years ago?
The Warriors raced off a to a fast start with a tenuous lead of 18+ points throughout the first half. For some reason, any large margin for the Warriors never seems secure but perhaps they're proving me wrong nowadays. What seems to stand out this game and perhaps more so this year than maybe in the last decade of Warriors basketball is the sheer number of weapons this team has versus any other years (of course mostly initiated through the in-game architectural designs drafted by Nelson and Baron Davis's in-game reads). You would have thought Beyonce was the GM with how 'upgraded' this team has become in the last year since "The Trade." Though Mack-Truck Monta (more on that later), B.Ditty, and Harrington had off nights, both Biedrins and AZ stepped in off the bench and poured in 30 pts and 16 boards between them. The truth of the matter is, too, is there hasn't been this many guys that can actually score AND shoot -- mid range and from three (six player averaging double figures) -- AND handle the ball.
AZ got some extended time versus the Spurs hitting some tough shots in the paint and helping out with the second chance points with 6 offensive rebounds. What I love about AZ is that he's able to finish in traffic and able to muscle and score over big guys (though not all the time of course). There's definitely a few of those "how did he do that?" moments last night. Though there's times that he looks like he's forcing his shot 1 on 5, its nice to see him trying to get a higher percentage shot by driving to the paint.
Brent Barry takes staying in front of his man a little too literally
Though two of my predictions came true (a Warriors win and Matt Bonner career night of sorts), my match-up of Tony Parker versus Monta Ellis, I'll admit, was somewhat overblown. Though, Jim Barnett did make a comment last night about how Ellis and Parker have similar playing styles, in the context of speed. Though, I think Ellis has a ways before becoming the player that Parker is. Monta, on his first touch of the game, did his mack-truck impersonation running straight into a player, getting called for a charge. Granted, it could have probably been a block if the opposing player (who's name I can't remember) was backpedaling some. But the larger point is to suggest that its easy to read where Monta is going to be at since it is the same move everytime. Once Monta's head goes down, you know its a line drive to the basket and defenders probably know exactly where he's going and can be in the right place for the charge. To his credit, I saw his ability to sell his drive to a stumbling Jacques Vaughn and Tony Parker into pulling up for an uncontested 15 footer a few times, so maybe there is hope for less charges in the future.
As Biedrins shows off how those great hands of his, Bruce Bowen looks to put a choke-hold on him.
Against a Duncan-less Spurs, the middle was wide-open for Biedrins to have his way with Francisco Elson and Fabricio Oberto. In 18 minutes, Biedrins had an efficient 14 points and 7 boards on 6-8 shooting. Biedrins post-game seems to have improved over the last few games as he has shown a little more patience feeling out the defender some before hurling his Antawn Jamison-esque shots puts in the air. But what's up with those gentle lay-ups and flips shots? I would love to see Biedrins slam in the face of some dude's grill just for the exclamation mark for a nice move.
AZ's late game heroics was able to puncture the Spurs zone defenses much stronger than the jump shooting by the Jackson and Davis tandem. AZ seemed to have a clue that drawing defenders through dribble penetration was a better strategy than going one on one for a fadeaway 20 footer (or it seemed more effective from my position on my couch). All in all, it's still a win nonetheless and we can't be too mad at a team who just last season this time was tumbling faster than gymnasts (or T-Hud versus the Lakers). Taking on another team tonight missing its franchise big man, the Warriors look like they're in for another win.
Kelenna Azubuike. The dude just comes in and hits big shots when his number is called. Although he doesn't get the touches as regularly than others, he still hustles for loose balls anyway (5 offensive rebounds/9 total).
Photos by Steve Yeater/NBAE and Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images.
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