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Warriors beat Kings 98-87 without Mike Malone; who would have thunk it?!

The Golden State Warriors were sloppy at times but flashed enough greatness to finish off a blowout. That made sense as I typed it, I swear.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Malone has the inferior team and there's no doubt he was an essential piece to the team's strategies behind closed doors and in games. But I couldn't pass the chance to troll the people who thought Mark Jackson would be rendered incapable of above-average coaching because of an assistant leaving. It helps that Klay Thompson has gone full Kobe Bryant in the low block and Andrew Bogut has actually looked as good as he made himself sound in the offseason.

The Warriors are 2-1, sandwiching a road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers between two dismantling of their division rivals. Granted, the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings are well below average, especially defensively, and both games were at home, but the shooting and defensive energy were crisp enough to harken back to a postseason Oracle setting. There are still things to work on: careless turnovers, defensive lapses and odd shot selection Marreese Speights shooting. But the positives from the first three games have wiped away a sloppy preseason, laying to rest the worries of a distracted and unfocused team -- though I'm probably fighting my own strawman here.

Play of the Game: Synergy isn't working for me and I don't have the techie wherewithal to pull videos straight from the game so there's no clip yet. I'll try to get one up for every recap this season. The play here occurred near the end of the second quarter when Draymond Green rips the ball away on defense, outlets it to Stephen Curry sprinting down the middle, who lets up in transition, waiting, dribbles, waiting, then pops a one-handed (good?) to Klay Thompson right above the right above-the-break three-point line. As the defense lets gravity drags them down to the paint, Thompson trails the play to perfection and Curry hits him where he likes it, center of the chest, right below the neck. What do you think happened next?


That face will never get old.

It's like Klay discovered he was 6'7" over the summer and slowed everything down going to the basket. His body is in much better control and he doesn't seem scared despite bigger defenders lurking around the rim. However, it's just been three games so we'll have to see his mindset continuing when he does get blocked.

He showed off the post-game in spurts last season but Mark Jackson, and Curry, had emphasized going to it when the team needs a bucket or in a mismatch. In one sequence, Lee looked to Curry with the ball but Curry directed it right to Klay on the left block, where he went to work on Isaiah Thomas. It won't always be the right play with bigger defenders but it's a nice wrinkle for those that believe Thompson to be just a spot-up gunner.

Stray Observations:

1. Curry's not a point guard? Not only did he direct numerous Klay post-ups but he has no qualms getting the rest of his teammates going.

The turnovers are still an issue but it seems like it's a matter of Curry reigning himself in then him not being able to dribble against high-pressure defense. On the other hand, Bogut looks not only svelte but more confident in his shot. It's only two half-hook shots. He's not dunking it after a drop step but a mediocre Bogut on offense will do wonders for this team. It's feasible as long as he finishes strong and tosses in a couple hooks to prevent teams from clogging the perimeter.

2. But what Bogut is really known for is his defensive intelligence and versatility. With Jermaine O'Neal out (expect to hear that a lot), the depth behind Bogut is concerning because there is none. He's relatively quick and long but that's true of 90 percent of the centers in the league. The trait that sets him apart is his mental ferocity. He easily got into Demarcus Cousins' head (though that probably isn't hard) and frustrated him into three early fouls. What Bogut does well on weak-side rotations is his timing. I'm infatuated with his work because he seems to know when exactly is the time to get over to force a weak shot. One step early and the penetrator passes out to the wing. Another wrong step and a foul call. On one sequence, Bogut saw Thomas driving into the left side of the lane, but waited on the left side of the key until Thomas made it to the paint and in one step, he came over and contested a missed shot. Gorgeous movement and impeccable timing. This team's defense would fall apart without him.

3. It's been a couple months and more since Lee has been healthy and it's great to see him attacking the offensive boards again. Lee has looked great -- like the beginning of last season -- on offense and hasn't forced a single shot. He even drove hard to the basket (and finished!) instead of settling for his patented off-hand hook shot. He's still getting blocked a lot but he always keeps his arms up and attacks the boards as if he misses every driving layup, keeping his defenders out of position even after a good first contest.

4. With Harrison Barnes still out with a hurt something, Jackson was forced to play Kent Bazemore some early minutes. The Toney Douglas at backup point guard is still a lukewarm experiment that has zero upside, but the defensive prowess of those two players are off the charts. That's a lot of in-your-face-ness right there. Sure, they won't score but it'll be like dribbling through a fortress with those two up top.

5. Andre Iguodala can't shoot but we don't care because he's freaking awesome at everything else on a basketball court.


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