The fourth quarter turnover problem that ailed the Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day crept up once again in the Warriors’ 121-111 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Golden State played nearly flawless basketball on both ends of the court to start the game, ending the first quarter with a 42-17 lead. They scored 22 of the game’s first 26 points and committed just two turnovers in the period. The offense was humming on all cylinders — so much so that Stephen Curry decided to celebrate a Kevin Durant three before the shot was even launched.
Steph Curry has some real confidence in Kevin Durant pic.twitter.com/3fpH3oKIt2— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 29, 2016
Their defense was just as crisp, not allowing any fast-break points or points in the paint.
Nonetheless, the Raptors clawed back into the game with some help from the Warriors’ carelessness with the basketball.
Golden State coughed up the ball nine times in the second quarter alone, including six times in the quarter’s first 13 Warriors’ possessions. The giveaways led to 22 points for Toronto in the period, and the lead was cut to five with three minutes remaining in the half. After a scorching start, the Warriors couldn’t buy a bucket, shooting just 1-9 in a four-minute stretch midway through the second quarter. Golden State eventually went on a huge run to balloon the lead to 17 by the end of the half. Still, when they weren’t turning the ball over, the Warriors were shooting 74.4 percent from the field in the first half, despite their dry spell.
Curry got more touches
However, Golden State’s Curry problem disappeared against Toronto. Curry was unhappy about the 11 shots he took against Cleveland and expressed a desire for more pick-and-roll action before last night’s game. The former MVP got his wish, handling the ball noticeably more than he has thus far in the season and initiating all kinds of offensive sets for the team, including the pick-and-roll with Draymond Green as the screener. Consequently, Curry scored a team-high 28 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 7 assists, not to mention an unexpectedly gritty offensive rebound in the final period which led to two free-throws that helped seal the win.
In addition to the increased pick-and-roll sets, Steve Kerr brought back the drag play, where Curry scurries around a Green screen and zips into the lane, surrounded by floor spacers.
“We wanted to get back to running more drags,” Green said. “That’s one of our money plays and one of the toughest thing to guard.”
Hot shooting overcomes turnovers
The turnover count reached 20 by the final buzzer, but the Warriors clinched the victory by shooting 56.8 percent from the field and 60.9 percent from beyond the arc. The Raptors never backed down, but this game would’ve been a blowout if Golden State just took better care of the ball. Golden State getting in their own way has become a trend this season, but at least they pull off highlight plays like this one:
Kevin Durant was incredible defensively, making one of his five blocks in a crucial possession in the fourth quarter. With the Warriors up seven, DeMar DeRozan took off for a dunk after blowing by Klay Thompson, only to be rejected by Durant at the rim. The former MVP finished with an insane 22 points, 17 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 blocks. However, Durant failed to register a single point in the fourth quarter and was part of the turnover problem, inexplicably eschewing open looks for risky passes through traffic. His final stat line included six turnovers.
A lot of Golden State's turnovers come from trying to be too cute on offense. Warriors should just take open shots instead of forcing passes— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) December 29, 2016
Many wondered whether there were enough shots to go around for this star-studded Warriors’ team. But, so far, the issue has been overpassing. With the type of talent Golden State has, sometimes selfishness is a desirable trait — especially when the game is on the line.