Let me take you back to the fear and loathing you felt in the 4th quarter of the Golden State Warriors' game against the New Orleans Pelicans tonight.
Our Warriors were very, very close to losing tonight. But you can chalk up this gritty 128-122 overtime victory to three things:
- Steve Kerr telling our guys to get easy buckets and get to the line?
- Great team defense in OT.
- Clutch OT offense from Steph Curry and Draymond Green.
(Q1) THIS IS EASY. RIGHT?
We jumped out to a 21-14 lead, and for a second, the Warriors fooled some fans into thinking this was going to be an easy one. Think again. Livingston had to hit two free throws with the quarter winding down to bring us within three.
With the fear of Ryan Anderson going off in the Pelicans' starting lineup, Draymond Green played some good defense on him early. Green's offense looked bad in the first quarter, with an air-ball three, a transition missed dunk, and an ugly push shot, but some nice screens for Curry.
Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans came out hot, and the Pelicans were on a roll in transition.
We definitely looked like Charles Barkley's vision of us as a jump-shooting team, and only got to the line once. For the end of a back-to-back, this was a dangerous and high-variance start.
(Q2) KERR GETTING US INTO THE KEY, TO THE LINE
We got to the line four times for eight points, and had 14 shots in the key by my count -- this smells like coaching. I also had us contesting more shots on defense this quarter, compared to the first (but still allowed six uncontested shots from their offense).
We built a somewhat comfortable lead, and flirted with a double-digit lead for a solid chunk extending into the third quarter.
Kerr rolled out a lineup of Festus Ezeli, Shaun Livingston, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson. With Andrew Bogut sidelined, that's about as defensive as it gets.
In both this quarter and the first, we had some ugly turnover patches. Thankfully they came in patches, and were not a consistent issue.
Justin Holiday sighting! One of the first things he did was reach in on defense against his brother, Jrue. Soon after he had a great steal, ran the floor, passed to Livingston who threw him an alley-oop. It was nice.
In both the first and second quarters, Iguodala had 3-point / dunk combos on back-to-back possessions.
At the half, New Orleans was shooting 48.9% from the field.
(Q3) NOSE GAUZE AND STITCHES
Harrison Barnes apparently got two stitches in his mouth during the break, after getting hit with an elbow in the second quarter. Between Barnes and Draymond, there were three nostrils 'gauzed up' to start the second half. Festus Ezeli seemed fiery as well and protected the rim well on at least two plays that I noticed. A note to other teams: don't mess with our Class of 2012...
This quarter also saw the end to us flirting with a double digit lead, after a 13-0 streak by the Pelicans.
(Q4) FEAR AND LOATHING IN NEW ORLEANS
This quarter was scary -- let's not sugarcoat it after the fact. The crowd started getting into it, we had another nasty turnover patch, some ugly desperation shots - and the Pelicans were blood-thirsty.
With 8 minutes to go, we were down 4. With 4 minutes to go we were down 8. Kerr had a timeout at around this point where I imagine his message was similar to the one he had going in to the second quarter - get in the key, get to the line, stay calm, play some team defense.
Iguodala hit a big 3, Speights and Curry drew back-to-back charges. Speights had 2 big offensive boards and hit 1/2 clutch free throws to tie it up.
(OT) CLUTCH CURRY WITH A SIDE OF GREEN, PLEASE
Kerr brought out a small lineup: Draymond, Iguodala, Barnes, Klay, and Curry. This lineup played some mean defense, and rewarded the fans quickly for hanging in there through that intense fourth quarter.
Curry hit a midrange jumper to start things off, with 2 off-the-dribble clutch threes to follow soon after. The second one was a dagger that created some borderline garbage time in overtime. Fans left early in this period.
Sprinkle in a Draymond And-1, a Draymond drive into the key for 2, and an Iguodala free throw, for a 14-3 run.
- - -
Sure the Pelicans were missing their best player tonight, and we were missing our second most important player in Bogut, but that's not what this game was about. This was a gritty, character win, through and through, and perhaps the best win of the season. The win streak is at 16, but honestly that almost feels like a side note.