At this point in the season, the Warriors just have to do whatever they have to do in order to get a win. Ugly wins are still wins. They can't all be beautiful games like the Phoenix win or the Houston win. But finally, what I can confidently say is that the Warriors are beating teams they should beat and that they are a team to be reckoned even on the road. This team is not the same team that got slaughtered in Cleveland or in Atlanta. This team is on hot right now and at the right time. This team sits one game out of the last spot and has the Clippers, Nuggets, and Lakers scared because if either of those teams slip, the Warriors are right there to take their place in the playoffs.
Before I write anything about the Popeye Jones-ness of the game, here's what Nellie had to say.
I never blame the refs for a loss because good teams don't make excuses, but it feels like something fishy is going on. Maybe this is a Warriors theme, but it seems like the refs just don't want the Warriors to win and make the playoffs. At one point during the game, Nellie said to the ref, "You can't call a foul every time they go to the basket. They've shot about 45 free throws." It got so bad that Nellie got a technical for arguing a little too much with the refs. Sometimes a coach has to make a point to the refs to let them know. But you know what? This team is determined to win and is going win despite the calls going against us. That's what good teams do. They win despite adversity by making the necessary plays to win the game.
So with calls seeming to go the Grizzlies way, the Warriors shot far less free throws the Grizzlies, 25 for the Warriors, 37 for the Grizzlies. This really isn't surprising because every game, the Warriors shoot less free throws than their opponent. Why? First, as mentioned above, they just don't seem to get the calls. The Warriors haven't earned the respect of the officials and they have to earn it. That's what they're doing now by winning. Also, the players have to play hard no matter what happens. A second reason for the free throw disparity is that the run and gun style that the Warriors play doesn't get them a lot of free throw opportunities. This team takes a ton of 3 pointers, 36 tonight versus the Grizzlies 12. You rarely see people get fouled shooting 3 pointers. They also take a lot of mid range jumpers, again jump shots don't get you to the line. Additionally, many of their points come on fast breaks where they get an easy bucket or lay the ball in without making contact with a defender. Lastly, I question whether Nellie really wants to shoot a lot of free throws. They probably slow the game down so much that the Warriors lose their run and gun advantage.
Back to the game. Those turnovers, all 23 of them, nearly cost the Warriors the game. The only reason those didn't come back to bite the Warriors is because Memphis had 28 turnovers. The Warriors were sloppy with the ball tonight JRich had 5, Stephen Jackson with 4, and Baron with 8. On the flip side, this team is so active on defense now that they're creating many turnovers and causing havoc for the opposing team's offense. That's what a running team needs, the ability to disrupt the other team's offense and get them to play the way the Warriors want to play. That's what happened tonight and the better running team won.
It's my night
Tonight was all about Baron. He did it all tonight. He scored, he rebounded, he passed, and he won. He had a ton of turnovers, but he led this team tonight with his all around court game. His 31 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals, were crazy. He carried the team tonight.
But he got a lot of help from his friends. Stephen Jackson chipped in with 7 helpers and 4 steals once again proving that he has some of the best vision and passing ability on this team. Monta Ellis was big tonight as well. His 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists tonight were actually statistically better than Baron because he had just 2 turnovers. Each night, everyone is giving it their all and when one player struggles (Al Harrington tonight) another one picks up the slack. Again, this the sign of a good team.
The Warriors nearly gave the game away. At one point in the 2nd quarter, the Warriors were up 10 points only to see the Grizzlies close out the quarter with a strong run to cut the lead to one heading into the half. Apparently, Nellie wasn't too happy about this. Here's what Stephen Jackson had to say, "We're taking it one game at a time. I'm glad tonight we had a rough game. It's not easy. We haven't made the playoffs in a while. Good teams finally get wins when they play hard, that's what the NBA is about. Coach [Don Nelson] came and got into us at the half. I'm glad he did."
This game looked an awful lot like the one played in Oakland last Sunday. The Grizzlies wouldn't go away and had a 4th quarter lead. But just like last Sunday, the Warriors staged a 4th quarter rally to secure a lead that they would not give up. Thanks to the 36-22 4th quarter, the Warriors were able to close the game out and go home with their 4th straight W.
Andris Biedrins twisted his ankle in the 3rd quarter but was able to return in the 4th to help close out the game. For tomorrow's game against the Spurs he will not be 100% but they're going to need him to play to have a better chance to win.
The Warriors desperately needed two wins on this 3 game road trip to stay alive in the playoff race, they've got that now. This upcoming game is like a free game for the Warriors. Most people didn't expect them to win all 3 games, but now that they've won 2, they can exceed expectations by taking down the Spurs for their 5th win in a row. 2 wins were expected, 3 wins will put some major pressure on the Clips.
Tonight's Warrior Wonder is Baron Davis. He had a big game and was the spark plug tonight. He's the leader of this team and his 42 minutes tonight made sure the Warriors got the win. Only 6 games to go and Warriors Nation is ready to explode. We bleed lightning bolts. Go Dubs.