What a game! The Golden State Warriors survived the Washington Wizards’ early torrid shooting to steal a win at home, 120-117. This is the second straight game with nail-biting drama late.
Coming into this matchup, head coach Steve Kerr talked extensively about the lack of mental focus that plagued the team during the first five games. In a high profile matchup against the Wizards, the Dubs would get a chance to work out their turnover problems against a challenging Eastern conference contender. The Wizards are long, athletic, and like to get up and down the floor. The game itself would be one to remember.
Dub Nation has been heavily concerned with the poor habits the Warriors have shown in terms of protecting the ball. Those concerns would only spike with a series of frustrating turnovers that helped fuel the Wiz pushing in transition. I took the liberty of noting the turnovers to keep myself from banging my head against my laptop screen.
- Lazy pass from Draymond Green to Steph Curry is stolen by Kelly Oubre
- Lazy pass by Kevin Durant directly into Otto Porter’s hands for a steal
- KD is stripped on a fast break by Oubre, leaving Klay clapping his hands in frustration. This strip led to an easy transition three for Wizards.
- Klay miscommunicates on whether or not he should set a screen, misses a pass that bounces off his body on the wing.
- Zaza Pachulia throws horrendous outlet pass that is stolen because Stephen Curry was already running the opposite direction.
- Draymond Green forces a pass to an airborne Andre Iguodala that flies out of bounds.
- Javale McGee offensive foul on a layup attempt.
At least KD got this nasty block on John Wall
The Dubs would finish with 8 assists, and 7 turnovers for the quarter, on 46% shooting from the field. Clearly, the Wizards defensive activity exacerbated the champs’ current bad habit of not valuing possessions. Wizards 34, Warriors 27
The second quarter opened up with a lineup of Klay, Dray, Nick Young, David West, and Andre Iguodala. Klay and West took turns keeping the Warriors in the game with tough shots over the Wizards bench unit. West hit his first five shots, including a surprising alley oop toss from Draymond that no one in the building was expecting.
Dray was bizarrely called on an offensive foul during a post up on Oubre. After the young Wizards forward flopped and tripped the All-Star to the floor, Draymond was incensed. He received a technical foul after shouting at the ref in his typical bellicose fashion. This tech would cast a large shadow over the game by the end of the quarter.
As the quarter wore on, it appeared as though the champs had a lid on the bucket, while the Wizards simply couldn’t miss. There was even a Warriors offensive sequence started by a Patrick McCaw steal that featured THREE missed jump-shots, a Wizards defensive rebound, a D-West steal, and then a McCaw layup. That brutal effort just to get a layup showed how both the Wizards strong defense and the Warriors poor shooting were creating a perfect storm.
The Warriors initial forays to the point were continually rebuffed, and then they would settle for contested threes. The Wizards focused on finding Golden State’s open shooters in transition and doing their damndest to run the Dubs off of the arc. The champs would end up only hitting 3 out of 20 bombs for the half, while the Wizards were 11 of 17. That’s a 24 point difference off the trey ball alone!
A strange sequence occurred with under a minute to go in the 2nd quarter, when Draymond swatted a Bradley Beal jumper and gave him a nice expletive with it. The Wizards recovered and misfired on the following shot, and Draymond was boxing out Beal when something mysterious occurred. Beal reached around and GRABBED DRAYMOND’S FACE LIKE HE WAS CHLOROFORMING HIM FOR A KIDNAPPING. Draymond turned around and Beal engaged him in a MMA standing grapple. The two men wrestled into the crowd in a death lock that took both teams to separate.
Draymond had a torn jersey, and Beal had a smug look on his face. Was he trying to get the Warriors' best defender ejected? The refs reviewed it, and assessed Dray his second technical for an ejection (which he vociferously disagreed with). Beal was ejected as well for his role in starting the skirmish. On his way out, a fan actually tried to get at him in the tunnel. WOW.
End of 2nd quarter score: 67-53
The agitated crowd picked up the energy to will the hometown heroes on after the bewildering skirmish to end the first half. Still, the Warriors could never quite snatch momentum. The Wizards also couldn’t quite put the boot on our throat either.
With Jordan Bell a healthy inactive scratch, Kerr scrambled to patch together the hole Draymond’s absence left. Zaza, Javale McGee, and Kevon Looney battled on the inside, and did an admirable job of keeping the ship afloat.
Klay picked up his fourth foul early and had to sit down for the rest of the quarter. Curry would try to force the issue to get himself going, but the Wizards physical length kept him from getting comfortable. Kevin Durant shouldered the heavy offensive load for the team, scoring 14 of his game high 31 points in the quarter.
Omri Casspi came in and gave the team some aggressive energy, attacking the basket and hammering away with force at the Wizard’s defensive shell.
He even got in on the “bizarre referee technical foul” theme of the night. Casspi drew contact on a shot, his leg flailed, and he inadvertently caught Otto Porter in the groin with his knee. The refs called timeout... TO CALL A TECH ON CASSPI. Wow. Porter would then miss the FT because “the ball don’t lie”.
Steph closed the quarter with five straight points, including this disrespectful three pointer on John Wall where he duped the Wizard’s franchise player into diving to the court for a steal. As Wall hit the hardwood, Steph deftly snatched the ball up and launched a bomb to the cut the deficit to 10.
The Warriors would end the 3rd trailing 97-87.
Klay returned to the game and drilled a trey to immediately cut the lead to 7. Then KD drilled a contested three to cut the lead to 4. Casspi’s first three as a Warrior cut the lead to 99-96,
All of a sudden, it felt like it was anyone’s ball game.
The lineup of Klay, KD, Iguodala, West, and Casspi completely shifted the energy in the building. West’s defense and toughness on the boards along with Omri Casspi’s raw energy was contagious tonight. Each time the Wizards seemed like they were gathering some more momentum, Casspi and West counterpunched for the Dubs. West would finish with 16 points on 8 of 9 shooting from the field, with his only miss a desperate heave from 38 feet to beat the shot clock. A Casspi drive and dish to West led to a tough layup (with D-West screaming) to take the Warriors first lead at 102-101.
From there it was a seesaw battle with both teams trading gutsy three pointers and tough layups. As the the lead swung back and forth and the game hung in the balance, Coach Kerr looked to an unheralded bench player for a burst of energy.
Enter Kevon Looney.
Looney’s fresh legs were the key as he outran and outhustled the Wizards to provide a major boost for the Dubs. He had three straight dunks late in the 4th that sent the crowd into a frothy frenzy. His powerful dunk on Oubre was a gut punch to Washington that shook their will.
He finished with nine clutch points and five boards, and came up big defensively using his length to switch out on the Wizard’s wings and bother their drives. His final jam put the Warriors up 116-109, a lead they would never relinquish.
The Wiz scratched and clawed to steal it, and the Warriors nearly capitulated with a series of idiotic decisions down the stretch resulting in turnovers or bad shots. However, the Wizards’ three point magic evaporated and they were unable to send the game into OT.
Kevin Durant’s nailed two free throws that would be the clinching points of the game, and the Warriors escaped with a 120-117 victory at home. After the crazy disparity of long range bombs in the first half favored the Wizard, the percentages flipped for the third and fourth quarters. The Wizards were 4 of 16 from distance in the second half, while the Warriors regained their touch and drilled 7 of 18 from beyond the arc.
“Strength In Numbers” takes over
This game was filled with some depressing lows and scintillating highs. Clearly, the Dubs have a lot to work on. Still, on a night when their defensive leader was kicked out due to nonsense and they got down 18, the Warriors “Strength In Numbers” rose to the occasion. Looney, West, and Casspi spearheaded a inspirational bench performance that outscored the Wizards’ reserves 44 to 27.
The champs next game will be Sunday against the Detroit Pistons in Oakland. Draymond should be full of fire after being ejected from this game, and will be looking forward to facing off against his hometown team.
Who was your Warrior Wonder against the Wizards?
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Steve Kerr's 70's collar