It looked like it was going to be a long game for the Warriors in the first half when Dwight Howard was dominating the offensive glass and the Splash Brothers were continuing to miss threes.
Stephen Curry continued a trend by missing his first three shots, and Klay Thompson picked up three fouls in 11 minutes — going scoreless in the first half. Draymond Green also got into foul trouble in the 2nd quarter and was sent to the bench. Meanwhile, Dennis Schroder exploded for 19 first-quarter points as the Atlanta Hawks put up 42 points in the opening period. Curry and Thompson have been in a slump ever since the start of their Eastern Conference road trip on February 27, and they combined to make one of their six total three-point attempts in the first half.
The circumstances created a unique situation where neither of the Warriors’ four All-Stars was on the court, and it gave an opportunity for sixth man Andre Iguodala to rise. Iguodala hasn't been relied upon much this season, but the unlikely hero helped spark a Warriors’ comeback. The Hawks were up 52-37 before Iguodala entered the game and splashed in two 3s, rose up for an authoritative slam, and forced his way to the charity stripe.
Ian Clark had also been in a funk during the previous game, but he scored 10 points, while David West was connecting on his mid-range jumpers. While a shooting slump continued to plague the Splash Brothers, the bench unit broke its dry spell and kept the Warriors afloat, accounting for 41 of the Warriors’ 61 first-half points. They only trailed by four at the half.
Warriors without any of their four All-Stars on the floor right now. Not sure if I can remember a non mop-up minute of that this season.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 7, 2017
Iguodala scored 14 of his 24 points in the first half, showing no signs of regression despite playing heavy minutes. With Durant sidelined for another few weeks, Iguodala knows he needs to step up. However, he provided an underlying reason for his improved play.
Andre Iguodala: "I'm a free agent so, show that it's there a little bit" pic.twitter.com/jwHXhjEk1T— Warriors Talk (@JaeAzizi) March 7, 2017
Much akin to the rest of his career, Curry improved with time. The second half saw him regain his awe-inspiring flame-throwing abilities. Curry finished the game with six made 3s, two of which put the Hawks away for good late in the fourth. The sharpshooter has now made 11 of his last 24 threes, a far cry from his abysmal 4-of-35 to start the road trip.
Thompson also came back to life in the second half, scoring nine points in the third quarter, and Iguodala turned back the clock to display his all-around game — finishing with 24 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. The Warriors are now an incredible 15-0 when the former Finals MVP scores 20 or more points.
“Andre has been absolutely phenomenal for the last couple weeks,” Kerr said, via the Mercury News. “He just looks so spry out there, young, confident. Such a great basketball player. Makes the right decision out there over and over and over again. To me, he’s kind of the unsung hero on our team.”
It would be ideal for the Warriors to rest Iguodala, seeing how he wore down in last year’s Finals. But they need his production off the bench now more than ever if they want to keep the top seed in the West. While he’d like to rest his sixth man, Kerr mentioned that Iguodala is in great physical shape and that he’ll keep an eye on him moving forward.
Should Iguodala maintain this level of play sans Durant — and the Warriors hold on to the top seed — he should be seriously considered for Sixth Man of the Year honors.