Stephen Curry turned in a great performance against the Knicks, including a magnificent third quarter to give the Warriors a lead they would not relinquish, but he was only able to have that impact because of a more unsung performance. David West continued his run of age-defying play on Tuesday night, giving the Warriors an offensive boost when their All-Stars were scuffling. West’s steady play in the second quarter allowed them to overcome some early offensive struggles and eventually win the game.
The Knicks had no answer for West’s mid-range game
Eight of West’s twelve points came in the second quarter. Taking advantage of a Kristaps Porzingis-less Knicks team, West was able to feast on mid-range shots given the Knicks’ depleted front court defense.
Here’s one of West’s baskets in the second, which came midway through the quarter.
What made that shot even more satisfying was that it resulted from a defensive lapse by Enes Kanter who has gone out of his way to take verbal shots at Kevin Durant and the Warriors while continually genuflecting before Russell Westbrook.
West made another basket later in the second quarter and, once again, Kanter provided less-than-stellar defense that made the whole thing possible.
Kanter gets drawn in to help guard Klay Thompson, leaving West open to set up for that mid-range jumper. While one can understand the impulse to guard Thompson at all costs, it doesn’t seem wise to leave as good a player as West open in the space on the court where he is the most comfortable and efficient.
Beyond making Kanter look foolish, what was important about West’s scoring in the second quarter was that it kept the Warriors in the game when they were struggling to make shots and to remain focused on the task at hand.
Both Curry and Thompson had rough beginnings to Tuesday night’s game, shooting 25% collectively from the field in the first half, including 20% from three-point range. Those offensive woes allowed the Knicks, playing without their only All-Star in Porzingis, to hold a lead as large as ten points in the first half.
But while the Splash Brothers scuffled a bit in the early going, West provided a consistent offensive counterpunch that allowed the underperforming home team to stay within striking distance. NBC Sports Bay Area’s Monte Poole noted this as well in a tweet from the second quarter.
There are nights when the #Warriors ought to give the ball to David West every time down and let him shoot that elbow J.— Monte Poole (@MontePooleNBCS) January 24, 2018
4-of-4 so far tonight.
West’s scoring curtailed in the second half, tallying just four more points. His only field goal of the second half came here off of Kevin Durant’s career-high thirteenth assist.
CAREER-HIGH ALERT— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 24, 2018
KD collects his 13th assist in the game ➡️ David West pic.twitter.com/JyHaVXjos9
West’s rebounding and passing where on display in the fourth quarter
West made contributions beyond just scoring. The veteran also pulled down four rebounds in Tuesday night’s game as well as handing out four assists. All of those rebounds and assists came in the fourth quarter, as those shots that weren’t falling in the first half began to find their way through in the second.
West finished the game with a +16, the second best plus/minus of any Warriors player on Tuesday night. While it is a flawed statistical measure, it does let us see how the Warriors played better when West was on the floor and that he was making contributions in every phase of the game.
Led by West and Shaun Livingston (who scored nine points, including five in the second quarter that saw the Warriors struggle to get any offense), the bench made a big difference, allowing the Warriors to tread water in that frigid first half that allowed them to pull away in the second.
A request—be sure to appreciate Mr. West
West has been, in the eyes of many, the Warriors best big man this season. His consistent and steady play as part of the unit that stars the second and fourth quarters of every game has been invaluable. What makes this even more amazing is that this is a player in the fifteenth year of a career.
At a point and age when other players would be slowing down, West is playing some of the best basketball of his career. Looking at his stats per 36 minutes (since he is, admittedly, playing many fewer minutes), West’s numbers are as good as when he was an All-Star.
Seeing West, one of the good guys in the league as well as amongst the most thoughtful, having this late-career resurgence is a pretty cool thing. Let’s be sure we all take a minute and appreciate it.
Who was the Warriors Wonder in the win over NYK?
This poll is closed