Monday night’s game between the Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers saw the return of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant to the starting lineup. It also provided some interesting on-court matchups (Durant versus Brandon Ingram, Curry versus Lonzo Ball) and a chance for the Warriors play against a young, up-and-coming team in the Western Conference. The game was an exciting one, not decided until overtime with the Warriors prevailing 127-123. But in that overtime victory, a few Warriors players made convincing arguments to be the Warrior Wonder for this game.
Durant keeps the Warriors in the game with his steady play
Curry struggled with his shot for most of the game, obviously affected by the bruise on his right hand. Klay Thompson was still fighting his way out of a slump as well and thus his offensive contributions were somewhat limited. Luckily, Durant provided his usual consistent and efficient scoring in his return to the Warriors lineup after a three-game absence. The length of the Lakers defenders (Ingram and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in particular) really bothered the Warriors backcourt. Durant, with his mid-range game as well as by driving to the basket, made up for the struggling Curry and Thompson by leading the Warriors’ offensive push.
The bulk of Durant’s 29 points came in the paint or the mid-range, taking advantage of a Lakers defense that was aggressive in its closeouts. That said, he did make three 3-pointers, including this very crucial one late in the fourth quarter.
With Ball hesitating ever so slightly, Durant was able to briefly get open and knock down the shot that tied the game at 109-109. The score remained that way for the remaining 46 seconds as the game moved into overtime.
Curry regains his shooting touch in OT
In the extra period, Curry shook off most of the rust that had been plaguing him throughout the game and sank two quick 3-pointers to give the Warriors a 6-point lead.
Curry made up for his struggles in regulation in the extra period, scoring 13 crucial points to end the game with 28 (to go with his 7 assists and 5 rebounds). After going 1 for 7 from 3-point range in regulation, Curry made those two enormous in OT to give the Warriors control over the extra frame.
Draymond Green clinches the win
Curry found himself at the free-throw line with a chance to ice the game for the Warriors in the final moments of overtime. However, the 94% free throw shooter shockingly missed the second free throw and looked as if the Lakers had the slightest sliver of hope. That is, until...
On that rare Curry free-throw miss, Draymond Green went up to get the rebound, back-tapping it out and allowing Curry to (eventually) secure the ball and go back to the line to shoot two more free throws.
While Green did contribute offensively by scoring 15 points, his presence was felt in the other areas of the game. Green’s defense down the stretch was outstanding, as noted by The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami.
Since he came back into the game with 4:13 left in the fourth, Draymond has been incredible.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) November 30, 2017
In that span of the game, Green recorded five of his 11 rebounds while playing stellar defense. With the Lakers attempting to win the game in regulation, Green protected the rim and helped Thompson defensively on the Ingram drive and thus sending the game into overtime.
While Durant’s steady scoring kept the Warriors going in regulation and Curry dominated overtime, Green’s defense and rebounding (he also finished with 9 assists, just one short of a triple-double) in those important situations played just as a large role in the Warriors victory.
In short, I don’t know who of these three is the Warrior Wonder for the game against the Lakers. You could even make the argument that Zaza Pachulia, whose 11 points tied a season-high for the Georgian big man, could be the choice. Pachulia started out the game very strong, scoring 6 early points.
In a game like this, one that’s a little bit ragged and not the most polished, where the team has to grind out a victory with everyone pitching in, it’s tough to single out one player. Thus I ask all of you to help me—who was the Warrior Wonder from Monday night’s game versus the Lakers? Let your voice be heard in the poll below!
Who was the Warrior Wonder against the Lakers?
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