The Golden State Warriors’ 112-97 victory over the Dallas Mavericks was full of great performances. Kevin Durant had the all-around great performance while Klay Thompson got insanely hot in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Omri Casspi quietly had one of his best games as a member of the Warriors while Andre Iguodala had 10 assists and not a single turnover. But the player who stood out to me in Thursday night’s win was Jordan Bell.
Once again in the starting lineup due to the injuries to Zaza Pachulia and Draymond Green, Bell played well and turned in a Green-esque performance, contributing in all phases of the game making numerous smart plays.
The most eye-catching thing about Bell’s night were his eight assists, which was double his career-high. While Bell has shown his proficiency and potential as a passer occasionally this season, tonight it was taken to another level. Five of those came in the game’s first half, meaning that Bell already reached his career high in assists in one half of basketball. One of those assists came on this play in the first quarter, helping Thompson get two of his 25 points.
We're underway at Oracle! Klay lookin' good early! pic.twitter.com/ditnheBDu8— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 15, 2017
This was a very savvy play by the rookie. Rather than forcing up a shot with Dirk Nowitzki right in his face, Bell found Thompson who was able to take a better attempt. It speaks to Bell being basketball-wise beyond his years, not rushing into bad plays or making mistakes by forcing things, looking for the open man or the higher-percentage attempt.
Bell tallied his seventh assist here in the third quarter, getting Durant one of his four 3-pointers for the night.
That shot by Durant gave the Warriors the lead, one they never relinquished, and was set up by Bell drawing in the Mavericks defenders and then realizing that Durant was open for that split second to get up the 3-point shot.
In addition to his 8 assists, Bell also scored 8 points with this layup standing out as the most notable one.
What a pass KD to Bell pic.twitter.com/erE11it8gG— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 15, 2017
This came up in the game against the Trail Blazers on Monday, but yet again Bell makes a difficult play that many other young players might not complete. After getting the ball from Durant, Bell begins to make his move to the basket. At the last moment, Maxi Kleber charges in to contest the shot. Even with that defender charging in, Bell is still able to go underneath and complete the reverse two-handed layup.
If you saw that play happen with any other rookie, you would probably see them miss the layup because of the last-minute contest or the shot would be blocked. That Bell was able to make that shot speaks to a control and polish to his game that really distinguishes him from other rookies, especially rookie big men.
Perhaps the least surprising thing about Bell’s night was that his defense was strong yet again. Here we see him guarding Wesley Matthews late in the second quarter.
Jordan Bell locks up Wesley Matthews = travel (and a little yell from Bell afterwards) pic.twitter.com/HvrIMyqlVn— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) December 15, 2017
There were plenty of opportunities for Bell to fall for the up-fake, allowing Matthews to draw contact or get a shot off. But Bell, again in a way that is not the norm for a rookie, stayed down and kept the tight defense on Matthews that led to a traveling call. Bell also finished the game with 6 rebounds, including 5 on the defensive glass, and 2 steals, contributing in all facets of the game and helping the Warriors get their eighth-straight win.
In just 24 minutes of playing time Bell cobbled together a stat line worthy of his mentor and role model, doing a little bit of everything to help the Warriors win. With the game getting quickly out of hand in the fourth quarter while he was resting, Bell wasn’t able to try and add to those totals. If (or when) Bell starts getting closer to playing 30 minutes per game, one can probably expect to see him earn a triple-double or two. But tonight, Bell’s performance was more than enough to make up for a Warriors front court beset with injuries and help the team to a victory.
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