Lets face it, there are plenty of excuses that can be made to help ease the pain of the 108-110 loss that the Warriors suffered to the Nets Monday evening in Brooklyn. They were on the longest road trip of the season, playing in the second game of a back-to-back which also happened to be the fourth game in five nights. And if we can please tell the violinist to find a real somber tone for this next one, apparently the Dubs were also delayed about five hours in Boston after they pulled off the biggest comeback of the 2014-2015 NBA season.
Fortunately this is the NBA, where excuses get left in the cold with the players and coaches who make them. It is pretty obvious that the Warriors lacked energy from the tip. After one quarter of play the Nets were shooting a blistering 73 percent from the field. 73 percent! Those are video game numbers.. Actually, If I gave up 73 percent shooting in NBA 2k I would probably have to Gronk spike my controller through the floor.
Bigs Playing Huge
The gold lining of the first half for the Warriors was the productivity they received from the center position. Andrew Bogut was the lone Warrior who played with intensity and a sense of urgency (that seemed to be lacking from him last night in Boston) from the jump. He was active on the glass early on and was making his presence felt by attacking the rim, which included a nice one handed ally-oop smash as well as a one-handed hammer from outside the restricted area in the paint. Bougs scored all of his 16 points in the first half on 8 of 10 shooting, but for some reason that my puny brain cannot fully grasp, Bogut did not take another shot the rest of the game. My guess was that he wanted to get the struggling Splash Brothers more looks, as we all know how unselfish Bogut can be.
Festus Ezeli also got some valuable playing time, posting 14 points and 8 rebounds in just 15 minutes. The journey of Ezeli has been a frustrating one for not only fans, but I'm sure for Festus himself. After a promising rookie season, Ezeli has not been able to solidify the backup center position for the Warriors quite yet. Teammates always praise the hard work ethic of Ezeli, and dramatic improvements in his offensive back to the basket game are apparent. It would be hard to imagine a deep playoff run by Golden State without Ezeli playing valuable minutes behind Bogut and hopefully we will see more of Festus in games to come.
Tale of Two Splash Brothers
Klay Thompson had his worst game statistically of the season Monday night with a rather quiet 7 points on 17 percent shooting (3-17 FG, 1-9 3P). If you were to just look at the numbers, the initial judgement would be that Klay had an awful game, which isn't necessarily wrong, but it doesn't quite tell the whole story either. Klay did have an off shooting night that included a lot of missed (open) jumpers, which does happen from time to time. But this was a game that proved as a testament to the maturation process of Klay Thompson as a multidimensional all-star shooting guard. While Klay clearly wasn't happy with his performance, he didn't hang his head like he might of in years past, and played key defense down the stretch to help get the Dubs into a position to win the game.
Steph Curry wasn't having much better of a night offensively than Klay until he ended the third quarter with a key 3-pointer to cut the Brooklyn lead to 6 entering the fourth quarter. Iguodala opened the fourth with a 3-pointer of his own and suddenly the Warriors were in business.
Then came the Curry flurry.
He began to heat up by draining a long pull up 3-pointer on the break to get the Dubs within one point, and stayed in attack mode on the following possession with an impressive crossover where he literally crossed over two defenders at the same time to open the lane for an easy layup. The Ooh's and Ahh's were just beginning in Brooklyn, as Curry continued to rain 3's throughout the fourth quarter, scoring 8 of the Warriors final 9 points in the last three minutes as part of a 9-0 Warriors run. The Dubs turned the Barclay's center into the Roarclay's center after Klay Thompson came up with a steal and dished it to Curry on the wing for a huge a 3-pointer. The entire crowd was anticipating Curry's shot, as he gave a pump fake to let Mason Plumlee fly by before effortlessly dropping in another trey. Curry scored 18 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter.
Despite the lack of effort the Warriors started the game with, the Dubs rode gritty performances by Shaun Livingston, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala to scratch and claw their way back into striking distance. Unlike the Boston comeback the night before, the Dubs never gave off that sense of confidence in their comeback until about 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
With all of that being said, the Warriors had the ball with about 30 seconds remaining in the game with the score tied at 108 apiece. But just as it seemed like the Warriors were going to pull out one more miraculous comeback, the mental and physical fatigue finally caught up to them, as Steph Curry and Klay Thompson's poor spacing on one side of the floor resulted in a costly turnover by Andrew Bogut with 20 seconds remaining.
As Jarrett Jack dribbled out the clock for one final shot, I had a strong feeling that he was going to get to his spot and hit a jumper. We as Warriors fans have seen Jack hit some incredibly tough jumpers with defenders hanging all over him, and the shot Jack hit Monday night was no different. With Steph Curry draped all over him, Jarrett Jack got to his spot around the top of the key, and nailed a go ahead jumper with 1.1 seconds left.
While the Dubs came out sluggish, they did not lose this game due to a lack of effort, which should make Steve Kerr and his coaching staff incredibly happy. Golden State showed exceptional mental toughness and truly battled like Warriors which eventually put them in position steal yet another game on the road.
But as the title reads.. Too little, too late in Brooklyn.
The Warriors (who are tied with the Nets for the least amount of home games this season) will return home on Wednesday to host the Bucks, and will play 10 of their next 12 at Oracle arena.