Oh ma goodness! I really have to hand it to Nellie and the fellas, they accomplished EVERY key to getting this W against the Rockets in Houston that I listed in the preview. The Warriors actually forced the Rockets to play Nellieball, not Rileyball- in their own house!
The only Rocket that could hang with us tonight.
I'm sure glad I predicted my "Warriors by 1" (in case you haven't figured it out it's my way of saying I think that the Warriors are going to lose) prediction would be wrong because the Warriors won BIG tonight.
Can you believe it?
- Did the Warriors just beat a superior Western Conference team on a little hot streak in THEIR OWN house?
- Do you realize that Yao Ming didn't hit double digits in scoring and only got 4 field goal attempts in 30 minutes of play?
- Did the 6'8 and under Warriors really just outscore the Rockets in the paint?
- Did the Warriors really outshoot the Rockets from the field, 3-point land, and the free throw line?
- Did the Warriors really avoid another dreaded 4th quarter collapse on the road?
Yao hears Warrior footsteps as he gets a rare bucket tonight.
Yes I can!
- A big reason the Warriors were able to beat a better Rockets team in Houston was that the Warriors came out confident and prepared as a cohesive team with a great game plan. They weren't worried about what the Rockets were going to do to them. All they were focused on was doing what they set out to do against the Rockets. There really haven't been that many times this season that I could say the Warriors were the smarter and more confident team out on the hardwood, but tonight was one of them. It starts with the top, so major props to Coach Don Nelson.
- As we used to say in grade school, "the Nile" ain't just a river in Africa and tonight it was what the Warriors did all night long to Yao Ming in the post. Whether it was Al Harrington fronting him, Andris Biedrins banging down low with him for the few minutes he could, or the very active hands and quick feet of the other Warrior guards and forwards, the Rockets simply just could not get the ball into Yao Ming down low. The Warriors put the pressure on the Rockets nonstop and were simply too fast for Yao and the Rockets. Memo to Rockets' Head Coach Jeff Van Gundy: Teach your players how to throw a good entry pass into the post, especially if that's all your game plan calls for.
- The Warriors won the battle in the paint with a combination of great D and nice offense. In addition to turning almost every Rocket entry pass to Yao Ming into a turnover, the Warriors gave good, hard, smart fouls. On offense the Warriors hit their shots, made their cuts, and took it to the hole strong. The points in the paint actually could've ended up being more in the Warriors' favor, but they missed several easy layups. Good thing it didn't come back to haunt them.
- Sweet shooting! The Warriors have had better shooting nights percentage-wise than tonight, but I've never seen them shoot this well against a stellar defensive squad on the road. The great ball movement, the nice assist (24) to turnover (10) ratio, and the 23 Rocket turnovers played a big role in the Dubs' nice shooting night.
- Yup, the Warriors did not collapse in the 4th quarter this time for a variety of reasons: a) They made their shots when it counted, b) they kept their focus and composure for a full 48 minutes, c) they kept their defensive intensity and hustle up at a very high level through the final minutes of the game, and d) Nellie managed everyone's minutes and fatigue levels extremely well in a high paced affair.
And with this W, the Warriors have actually taken the season series from the Rockets despite playing 2 out of 3 games in Houston. Say it with me...
Ray Allen Sighting
It's worth mentioning that Warrior killer Luther Head was absolutely raining game on the Warriors tonight. Although Jason Richardson essentially nullified Head's 3's with 7 of his own, that man was simply unconscious tonight. He dropped 30 points on the Warriors on only 13 shots with a wide array of long range bombs. Normally, this is the part where I say I'm sick of the Warriors letting some not exactly prime-time player go off on us (see Kapono, Jason), but tonight I really don't mind. I'd rather have just Luther raining game from outside than watching the Warriors get killed on the perimeter AND get killed inside. 1 out of 2 ain't bad. Hey, I ain't complaining.
Tonight, we will NOT be airing pics of another Warrior killer.
Instead we'll be airing a picture of a killer Warrior.
I know many of you couldn't watch tonight's game because you understandably don't fork over the monthly $148.37 fee that Comcast charges for the luxury of the fine FSN+ Bay Area channel 410 on digital cable, so definitely check out the comments in the open thread for this game. Those of us who could catch the game essentially live blogged the entire festivity.
It's like going to Baskin Robbins. There's so many great flavors and you can't go wrong no matter what you end up choosing (as long as it's not that boring plain vanilla!):
- JRich or Die Flying: 27 points, 7 for 11 from downtown, 9 boards, 3 blocks, and 2 steals.
- Action Jackson: 17 points, 6 dimes to only 1 turnover (this man has really shown us he can distribute the rock), and 3 steals.
- TMNHarrington: 15 points, 6 boards, 3 steals, plus some amazing heart and high hoops IQ while defending The Great Wall of Yao.
- Ellis to the Rim: 14 points, 3 steals, and 5 rodmans.
- Boom Dizzle: 25 points, 8 for 10 from the charity stripe, 10 dimes to only 3 turnovers, and 2 picks.
- Air France: A solid 10 minutes where he got an 'and 1' and collected some boards.
- Dris: Didn't back down from Mr. Ming.
- Barnes Baby!: An INTENSE 29 minutes of defense, hustle, and energy to go along with 6 big rebounds and 3 dimes.
- Nellie: For devising a crazy gameplan and an utter refusal to adapt to the Rockets and instead force them to play the Warriors' brand of hoops. Nellie didn't waste time trying to play big (i.e. Adonal Foyle) simply just to match up to the Rockets. Instead he played his 8 best players and outcoached a very fine coach in Jeff Van Gundy. Hoops G-E-N-I-U-S.
Tonight's Warrior Wonder goes to my favorite Warrior named Jason-Jackson-Al-Ellis-Baron-Pietrus-Andris-Barnes-Don. TEAM.
Master Splinter taught you well my friend!
I really don't get the chance to say this that often (haha, because most of the time I'll just come off looking 'Unstoppable Baby!' a la Marc Jackson and there's always the clowns), but tonight my friends, I am proud to be a Warrior fan. Please, please don't let this great win go to waste with a loss to the Grizzlies in Memphis on Friday.
Photos: Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images and AP Photo/Tim Johnson