Bad hors d'oeuvres
Another poor beginning for our Golden State Warriors. Maybe you guys can explain what exactly the problem is in that first quarter — all I know is that they just can't score the ball. Sets are slow-developing: lots of off-ball screens to get Klay Thompson open, resulting almost exclusively this season in missed shots; lots of David Lee isolations when the first option evaporates, leading to ill-conceived spin moves into waiting help defenders; lots of stagnancy when things don't seem to be working. The team comes out in a tryptophan-induced torpor while they try to run their plays. And things were looking more bleak than usual because the defense was porous and the board work abysmal. The score after Q1 was 30-18, and I was reaching for the bourbon.
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
In the second quarter we started seeing the Warriors go to their 2012 staples. The defense toughened up, holding Brooklyn to 16 points on 30% shooting, and doing so without a center: Mark Jackson went with Carl Landry and Lee in the front court the entire quarter, and their defense and rebounding was all the better for it.
But the offense also came alive. David Lee had 8 points in the quarter, scoring on a variety of moves with familiar ambidexterity. Stephen Curry found his stroke once again, the fourth game in a row. And when Harrison Barnes returned four minutes in, the energy level perked right up. Most of the damage was done against the reinserted Nets starters, who probably felt like they were playing a different team. By the end of the half, it looked like this might be a satisfying meal after all.
Because we all know that stuffing is the best part of the Thanksgiving feast. Klay Thompson, wary of the pitchfork-and-torch-wielding mob waiting in the wings, swished the picturesque jumper we all imagine him making with consistency. And then he hit another. And another. Three in a row, and the mob discarded their pitchforks and broke out in a "Reggie Miller" chant. Ok maybe not quite, but the mood shift in the game thread was just incredible. Klay ended the quarter with 12 points on 5-8 FG (2-4 3FG). And honestly, it just felt like he was back. His swagger had returned, his stroke looked pure, and the Warriors offense was smoking — 33 points in the quarter on 63% shooting.
Klay wasn't the only contributor to this rebirth. Curry stayed aggressive and went to the line twice; Lee had a couple more buckets; and even Festus Ezeli, who had an embarrassingly rookie-like first quarter trying to defend the crafty Brook Lopez, got in the act with a couple buckets of his own — including a beautiful power move on Lopez, who looked like he was running backwards from the onslaught.
Surprise — not the bird you were expecting! The Warriors forewent their usual fourth quarter blood-letting, taking an 8 point lead into the quarter and actually winning by 9 in the end. But like a good roast turkey, the team was consistent and kept with what got them to that point: they continued to rebound the ball (Lee had five in the quarter), move it to the open man, and hit the easy shots that they should make with regularity. (I considered dedicating the "turkey" label to the Nets' entire defense, because they really broke down after that first quarter.) Also consistent: turnovers, as six different players contributed seven total giveaways in the Q.
Admittedly, the Warriors' defense in the quarter was... wait for it... "fowl" in the 4th, as they failed to stem a late flurry by MarShon Brooks. But for once, the offense kept producing points, from the inside and out. And the rebounding really cannot be overstated. After getting dominated on the boards in the first, the Dubs finished with a 42-35 advantage, keeping alive their streak of invincibility when outrebounding their opponents.
Pumpkin pie with extra whipped cream
Certainly the sweetest takeaway from this game was, at long last, the emergence of the backcourt offense. We all know what Curry and Thompson are capable of, and knowing that caused us all to set our expectations pretty high. I honestly don't think it was unreasonable to do so: offensively, if those two guys score at the level we know to be their norm, they're one of the best pair in the league. Now, defensively, we've had no reason to be so confident. But both seem to have turned a corner this season; matched up against Deron Williams for much of the night, Klay limited him to single digit scoring. And Steph continues to be much more active, alert, and careful on the defensive end, staying out of foul trouble tonight while also grabbing crucial rebounds (six total) to incite the fast break.
In the end, just one helluva tasty win. I'm stuffed.
Klay Thompson emerging from the depths was a great thing to behold. Steph Curry played another phenomenal game — efficient from the floor, getting to the line, contributing on the boards, and only two turnovers.
But let's not kid ourselves: after a questionable start, David Lee was dominant tonight. 20 points on 10-15 shooting, 13 rebounds, 6 dimes, and a team-high 43 minutes. Kris Humphries worked him a bit in the first and third quarters, but Lee thankfully gave a lot more than he took. He was also good for some chuckles, as he yelled at his teammates for missed defensive rotations. (Really, David? You sure you want to bark up that tree?) David Lee is tonight's Warriors Wonder.
Finally, I leave you with a montage of a growing theme at GSoM, courtesy of my dedicated GameThreader brethren: player name amalgamania funtime!
Festus Windex. Carl Winslow. Monta Thompson. Green Energy. Brook LOLpez. Lurch. Harry B Beasting. Monta Barnes. Harrison Landry. Kris Kardashian. Festus Olajuwan. Mutha Evans. Andre Blatch Fool. Stephen Crawford. Jamal Curry. David BarkLEE. Treymond Threen. Teletubbivic. Tinky Winky. Telekektieleltic. Tommy Boy. Steph Ellis. Monta Curry. Latrell Sprewell. Klank Thompson. Klay Allen. Klay Ellis. Klay Bryant. Klay Miller. Klay...Martin? Oe Ohnson.
Have a great Thanksgiving, everybody!