Oh man did we need that. Despite the Warriors coming out and putting on one of their better performances tonight, the Blazers were incredible at scratching and clawing their way back into this game repeatedly. And for that, I have to give some serious credits to Portland.
With Denver having dropped their game to Houston tonight, this game became more and more intense as the clock ticked on. The Dubs were extremely quick on the hustle, playing excellent D (especially in the first half of the game), forcing Portland turnovers (6 in the 2nd, 5 in the 3rd) and in the end, walking away with the 8 spot in the West a bit more solidified than before.
Jackson fought like a Warrior tonight. Get it? Warrior?! It's like a dual meaning thing! Y'know... cuz he's... on the Warriors..."
The Dubs did exactly what was needed tonight. Make the jump with me and let's take a closer look.
I should start by noting that tonight's first quarter (and parts of the 2nd) was a display of some excellent Warriors basketball. Not only were our boys staying patient for the right shots on offense, they were playing some smothering defense! I truly wish that we could see this type of defensive intensity in more of our games. In the first quarter, Portland was almost completely shut out of the paint. This forced their offensive threats to step back and take lower percentage shots. As the buzzer sounded, Portland walked back to their bench shooting 32% overall, with Roy going 1-6 and Aldridge going 2 for 7.
Meanwhile, Jax, Ellis and Wright all had excellent starts. I have to say, it is really exciting watching Wright gain more confidence with each passing game. Brandan is seriously making the most of the opportunity that Nellie is giving him and being able to walk back to the bench after the 1st with 8 points and 6 boards is a statement that cannot be ignored. I'm fully confident that we will be seeing a lot more of Wright; even when Beans recovers.
Unfortunately, Wright's uprising will likely mean less minutes for C-Webb. Especially if he continues to make as little impact on the floor as he did tonight. It would seem that Nellie is starting to come to this realization as well, as Webb's 8 minutes tonight came entirely within the 1st quarter.
The 2nd and 3rd, (especially the 3rd!) were the quarters of the Warrior Killers. Outlaw did what he always seems to do against us and drained 10 in the second and 5 in the third. Meanwhile a Blake who was whisper quiet in the first half took us for an easy 9 points in the third. While we were able to do a respectable job of containing Brandon Roy in the first half of the game, we completely fell apart on him as he also lit us up for 12 points in the 3rd quarter alone. I have to admit though; Roy is a fun player to watch...
...as long as he's not playing us.
A brief moment of Roy playing exactly where we needed him. The bench."
These collective efforts from the Blazers completely whittled us down to entering into the 4th quarter tied. As always, it's a little frustrating to again see the Warriors unable to control a lead for 4 quarters, but it's not nearly as frustrating against a solid squad like Portland. Minnesota on the other hand...
Well let's not beat that dead horse further right?
What?! Did you actually think I'd put up a picture of dead horse? Gross.
And hey; enough talk about our flaws. Close game or not, we wouldn't have grabbed this W tonight without a few heroes of our own! I'm talking of course about Jax, Ellis, Boom, and to a slightly lesser extent, Wright, MP2 and TMNT. Let's explore.
- Jax was electric tonight. He started the game with a beautiful three and effectively put the nail in Portland's coffin at the end with a beautiful three. And everything he did in between those two plays? Just as smooth. An excellent 6-11 from the distance, 9 boards, 2 swats, and 29 points overall. Beast.
- Before the game Croshere compared Monta to A.I. and with each passing game, this comparison becomes less and less of a stretch. Granted, Monta has got a long road to go before he can stack up to the legend that is Iverson, but his 22 points, 10 boards (4 of them offensive!), and 6 dimes tonight was a step in the right direction. He is outdoing himself on a nightly basis and it's fun as all hell to watch.
- Boom got off to a slow start tonight but stepped up to take charge at all the right times. And considering that he was able to play less minutes and the difficulty he was having from beyond, he was able to put together a pretty decent offensive show tonight. I'm glad to see that he was able to get a little rest. Especially with this road trip ahead of us.
- I'm starting to get that same feeling about Wright that I got about Monta two years ago. There is a TON of raw talent there. I can't wait to see him progress further because everything I'm seeing now looks pretty damn good.
- Solid showing again by MP2. Excellent hustle on both sides of the court and thank god his baseline three is coming back. I really hope this trend continues.
With the race in the West right now, tonight's win was huge. Add to the fact that the Dubs now head out for a 4 game East Coast road trip, and tonight win gets instantly promoted to monumental. We're an incredible 14 games over .500 and yet there is still zero room for us to slow down.
It's time to put our heads down and charge. Tonight's win was a step in the right direction.
It's gotta be Jack. Keep in mind that Monta is not too far behind in the running, but Jack was the essence of clutch tonight. Aside from the rest of his stats, his 3 with about a minute and a half left gave us the breathing room we needed to put this game in the bag. Fitting that the dime on that play came from Monta. Great work from both of these guys tonight!