If you weren't busy watching Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers undress the Chicago Bears on national television you may have noticed that the Warriors won a pretty big game, even in mid-November.
This game was the difference between a 2-2 week or 3-1 week (using the term "week" loosely here).
After beating the Al Horford-less Atlanta Hawks, injury-riddled Minnesota Timberwolves and putting up a good fight against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Warriors had a chance to make a statement before coming back home.
And a statement they made.
Wait, let me rephrase: Stephen Curry made a statement.
During the first ten games of the season, Curry had his ups and downs and struggled especially with his shooting touch. He forced shots, turned the ball over on lazy one handed passes and fouled too much when opposing guards drove by him.
It was obvious he was pressing but there were still doubters that questioned his ability to play point guard. Those people are as silent as a Kaepernick spiral through the air right now.
In 43 minutes, Curry scored 31 points on 21 shots, dropped 9 dimes, stole two passes and grabbed 6 boards. He also helped shut down Darren Collison, forcing him into a 2-11 performance.
Early in the fourth quarter Curry seemed to twist his ankle again but he recovered well enough to score 20 points for the rest of the game.
I kept trying to take notes but finally gave up and just enjoyed Curry splitting double teams and keeping the Dallas defense totally off-balance.
The high pick-and-roll with David Lee worked to perfection every time as Curry was able to get into the lane to either drop a pass to a wide-open Lee and Festus Ezeli, or shoot one of his new patented one-legged horse shots (not really sure what it is but its working). He could be shooting off his ankles and I wouldn't care as long as it went in.
Or no, not off the ankles please. Enough ankles. We won. Stop thinking about it. Don't get swollen tomorrow. Don't stiffen up. Ice it, Steph. Keep it elevated at night.
I've never been so passionate about another person's ankle.
Stephen Curry may have had his best overall game as a Warrior but Harrison Barnes has slowly cemented himself as the Warriors' second best player. This obviously assumes that Andrew Bogut is out, and there's no reason to think he'll be back in the near future.
Barnes' confidence showed as he was agressive shooting threes (hitting four) and taking the ball to the rim. He started a couple games ago taking Andrei Kirilenko to the hole repeatedly and posting up but this game exemplified everything he is good at offensively. He even shot a couple step-back jumpers with his foot on the three-point line. Not ideal, but that's some confidence right there. Ask Stephen Jackson—master of the long two-point shot.
At North Carolina, Barnes was often tentative because he had so many talented players around him like Tyler Zeller, John Henson and distributor Kendall Marshall. It may sound weird but the Warriors may need him more than the Tar Heels. So far, he has shown he is up the task.
1) Klay Thompson had another underwhelming game, to say the least. But he did start the game by driving aggressively to the basket four times instead of jacking up early shot-clock threes. He ended up missing a few but its good to see he's still out there wanting to find new ways to contribute.
The moment that got swept under the rug—because winning cures everything—was Thompson's three with about 17 seconds left in regulation when the Warriros just got an offensive rebound. Usually you'd want to back it down and settle for the last shot but I had no issues with that shot. First, he was open and despite his struggles, he's still one of the Warriors' best shooters. Second, the defense was scrambling and if you back it out, it lets the defense set up. Haven't we seen enough Monta Ellis dribble isos at the top of the key already?
Klay is catching a ton of flak for his bad shooting but I like Coach Jackson's loyalty in giving him 42 minutes. Let him work through it. He'll be fine.
2) It's always fun tracking Coach Jackson's rotations throughout the game because he has a tendency to invent quirky lineups at any given moment.
The one lineup I did not like was the superstar-rest lineup at the end of the first quarter. Meant to give Curry and Lee a breather, Jackson threw out a combination of Charles Jenkins, Jarrett Jack, Draymond Green, Andris Biedrins and Carl Landry. It didn't exactly excel on offense or defense. And we're lucky to have Richard Jefferson out because it could have been worse. They didn't lose any ground in the 3 minutes but it's something to keep an eye on in the future.
The lineup that was eye-opening was the one that Coach Jackson played for a few minutes late in the fourth quarter. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and David Lee on the floor poses as the Warriors best offensive lineup. Green has played better of late, able to post up smaller defenders or spread out and shoot against larger ones. There's a lot of firepower there but a lack of defense, obviously.
Coach Jackson must have noticed because Ezeli was back within minutes. Still, a lineup worth salivating over when Bogut can make his way back. I'll write that line about 2325252 times this season.
3) It's November. The season is 82 games. Small sample size. Blah blah blah.
I don't care.
We're Warriors fans. We can overreact if we want.
Coming into the game, the Warriors were sixth in rebounding in all of the NBA. Sixth. 6th. That's single digits.
That's weird because I swear I just saw Chris Hunter giving up another offensive rebound. Must be just another nightmare.
Then this game, the Warriors not only out-rebounded the opposing team again but they absolutely mauled them on the glass. To the tune of 62-43 - they grabbed 19 more boards than the Mavs. Well actually, it doesn't matter who the team is because the Warriors OUT-REBOUNDED A REAL LIFE NBA TEAM BY NINETEEN.
Whatever box-out drills that Mark Jackson is teaching in practice, it's working. Most impressive is Festus Ezeli's ability to grab boards in traffic.
Now the Warriors head back home for a homestand against Minnesota, Denver, Indiana and Orlando. Easy now, we're getting too ahead of ourselves. Next thing you know, Bogut will be back before Christmas.