As Warriors fans turned on the TV Saturday night to enjoy the team coming back home after a tough two-game trip through Texas, there was hope. Stephen Curry was returning to the floor, Harrison Barnes was looking possible to return. Heck! There was even word that Steve Kerr was going to be returning to the bench!
Then, sometime before tip off we hear Harrison Barnes and Kerr were going to rest another night. And Brandon Rush and James Michael McAdoo were going to sit. Oh, and Leandro Barbosa's shoulder was still hurting. We were now doing math and checking the roster to see if the Ognjen Kuzmic was hiding down in the D-League and could be called up. Nine healthy bodies? Well, it was the Nuggets for crying out loud. All 12-21 of them, who can't score, can't defend, can't... ok we got this.
If you turned this game off after the first quarter throttling... Good for you.
The Warriors lost Curry (who knows how long?) to another leg injury, Andrew Bogut fouled out to leave the Warriors with an adjusted garbage time lineup and the Nuggets slowly came back on us. What a slightly weird, slightly garbage game that looked like neither team deserved to win.
But it really doesn't matter.
The Warriors weren't playing with a healthy squad. They were mostly featuring the bottom of the roster, who did their best to barely hold onto a 26 point lead. Sure, Draymond Green had a triple-double. But he had to in order to cover for Jason Thompson and Mo Speights clanking fade aways off the side of the basket and forgetting to protect the rim.
So what can be learned from Saturday night? That the Warriors should rest guys who are slightly hurt against bad teams, and sometimes games like these will happen.
About those Nuggets...
- Will Barton is the kind of player I wish I would picked up off someone else's trash heap, but you only get because your own roster is a dumpster fire.
- Man, is Danilo Gallinari playing for a new contract and team once the NBA's new television deal kicks in, or what? He is going to look pretty fantastic as someone's small forward on an overpriced contract for another 7 years or something. Can you imagine if he ended up on a good team like the Spurs as a sixth man taking over for Manu when he retires? Scratch that.. he is totally ending up on the Spurs for a value contract for the next 7 years and.. oh God, please no.
- Do you get the feeling like if the Nuggets would have won, they would have printed up "streak beaters" shirts? That was almost their Super Bowl win, to be followed up no doubt with a 15 point loss to the Lakers sometime soon. This poor team... They barely look good on paper let alone on the court. Mike Malone deserves better. I watched that whole game last night and totally forgot that Emmanuel Mudiay is on the roster. They have pieces but no continuity.
- Speaking of deserving better, one of their most respected players Kenneth Faried went down with a scary neck injury last night. It was a freak play - the kind of injury you usually seen in football when Colin Kaepernick would lead a guy too far over the middle #ninersburn. Faried apparently couldn't feel his hands or feet after the play. For a guy who deserves so much better, in a better contract and better team, I hope for a quick recovery.
- After all this - the Nuggets are still only four games out of the 8th spot in the West. Welcome to the 2016 NBA everyone!
About those Warriors...
- The first quarter was fun. It brought me back to happier days when we blew out scrub teams at home by 50. The ball was flying around, Golden State was punishing teams for taking bad shots. And then Curry gets hurt... And things go down. Ok we get it, we were healthy last year. Don't you think this is a gross over correction by fate at this point?
- How about that stat line for Draymond Green, huh? Guys, it's not the threes. It's not the defense. It's not that the offense doesn't run with him on the bench. It's that all those things come from the same guy. The sad part will be he won't start the All Star game. Green is the guy you want on the team if your looking to *win* the all star game. Durant, Blake and Duncan are the guys teams vote for. Accept the travesty now. It will make it easier.
- Klay Thompson had a fourth quarter to forget, as he missed some big threes and made some bad decisions with the ball on ISOs. His 26 points were key, including some huge baskets in regulation and overtime. But his missed free throw in OT lead to a chance for the Nuggets to tie, his turnover in regulation lead to the Nuggets getting within a basket to eventually force OT, and he looked to be forcing it when the Warriors needed him most.
- Jason Thompson has an aesthetically unpleasant game. I believe if Bob Meyers could have cut him after the third quarter without having to eat his contract he would have. He will officially become "the expiring contact known as Jason Thompson" from this day out. It makes be fond of the David Lee days... #fullsquad
- Ian Clark reminds me of Ish Smith - small body, thinks he has no game, but just keeps making plays. He has made the most of his playing time. He has become a great player on offense with the dribble, finishing at the rim and with his outside shot. He could still afford to refine his defense and his passing ability. He will have to play point guard to succeed in the league but he's not 100% there yet. He absolutely saved the Warriors last night and that will earn him even more playing time, which is a good thing all around.
- Can you imagine what happens if that game goes to double OT? Livingston fouls out... Green drops dead due to exhaustion... And even then they still wouldn't have put Jason Thompson back in.
Hey everyone, a win is a win. The winning streaks continue: Home winning streak, winning consecutive games after being up 15, still undefeated in 2016, Curry's games with a three made. And that's all that matters.
A win by 35 or a win by 5 in overtime to a bad team, they all mean the same. The Hornets/Bobcats/Jordan's team come to town Monday, and the team doesn't have to travel and can simply rest. Word is no practice on Sunday so everyone can sit around in ice water and bubble wrap to avoid further issues. When everyone is on the court - even Kevon Looney - we won't be forced to go with Mo Speights hitting jumpers and taking charges down the stretch. But for now, we can enjoy the process and for those who stuck around to watch it all, we can remember the crazy times.
(follow me on Twitter @badiehard)