Well, it wasn’t pretty, and it was a LOT closer than the final score indicates, but the Warriors managed to come out of the Big Apple with a win.
After starting slow and fighting through a strong Knicks performance the Warriors pulled away in the fourth quarter behind the strongest quarter of Kevin Durant’s career. While Durant’s 41 points (25 of which came in the decisive 4th quarter) will get all the headlines, both he and Steph Curry had a phenomenal game.
Klay Thompson continued to struggle with his shot, and the Knicks had some good guard play from Tim Hardaway jr. (24 points, 4 assists) and Trey Burke (15 points). But in the end, the Warriors were just too much. Draymond Green scored a big (for him) 18 points, and a number of bench players showed up when we needed them. The third and fourth quarter runs from McKinnie, Jerebko, and Looney all warrant some attention from fans.
But let’s dig into the game!
There was a sense of tension...almost uncertainty as the game opened. Like everyone was wondering if Curry was going to immediately go nuclear like he did in the last game. The entire team was moving quick and looking sharp, but Durant was the more aggressive player early - hitting a jumper and then throwing down this absolute hammer on a semi-contested fast break.
Knicks opened 4/5 from deep, but then started forcing threes. It’s almost like they watched some Steph Curry highlights and thought they could do the same - the shots started looking more forced and coming from further out as the first quarter progressed - which allowed the Warriors to inch back into contact.
A 13-0 run in the middle of the first quarter, fueled by a few glimpses of Unanimous Curry were enough to force a timeout by the Knicks.
New York has missed 11 of 12 shots, now 7 for 21 in the quarter, Curry has scored the last 9 for GSW and the Warriors lead 23-18 2;28 left in the first, New York went scoreless for 5;25 of the quarter— Tim Roye (@warriorsvox) October 27, 2018
Interestingly Jordan Bell got some early minutes, checking in midway through the first in what had been a Looney or Jerebko spot in the rotation so far. Equally interesting, Demarcus Cousins somehow managed to pick up a technical foul from the bench, and earned his first ejection of the season. That technical foul will, fittingly, go down as Demarcus Cousins’ first official statistic contribution as a Warriors.
Nate Parham said it in our Slack chat, but if the first quarter felt electric when it started, that energy fizzled out in the early fourth quarter. Klay got some more good looks, but missed more shots. The Knicks.... are not a pretty basketball team, but there was some wonderful Warriors defense, to be fair.
There were actually a few really nice defensive plays in the second. In addition to the one above, there was another steal from Green (who also had a very solid block shortly thereafter), and just generally stifling defense from the Warriors. I’m not entirely sure what the Knicks offensive scheme is, but they seemed ill-prepared for the Warriors switch-heavy defense.
Here’s that steal from Green:
For those that care about such things, Enes Kanter and Kevin Durant got into a minor beef. It started with some minor jawing off of this play (link here, since I refuse to post Enes frickin’ Kanter highlights). They are old teammates from the OKC days, but you know how that goes sometimes.
Anyways, Durant and the Warriors lazed their way into a slight halftime lead, thanks mostly to some silky smooth offense from Durant, and plenty of hard-nosed defense led by Draymond Green. Some late misses from the Warriors (including some more misses from Klay, including a point blank missed layup and wayward three pointer) in the waning moments)
Halftime: tied at 53 - 53
Knicks finish the half on a 17-4 run, evaporating the Warriors 13-point lead.
30 points from Durant and Curry, but only two points from Jones, and Klay went 4-13. The team just looked a bit dazed in the 2nd.
Weird start to the second half. It felt like a plodding, old school Eastern conference game, slow pace and not a lot of pretty play. And yet the teams couldn’t miss at first. The Warriors went 3/3 and the Knicks went 4/4 before the first miss of the second half.
This was a nice move - and one we don’t see all that often - from Steph; check out his ball fake / eurostep combo:
It all came to a head when Curry dribbled the ball off his foot. He managed to recover the ball well enough to force a jump ball, but everyone lazily strolled back and the Knicks broke away for an easy fast break layup.
Steve Kerr is upset. Warriors look so bored that it took effort to try on a jump ball and then running back in transition.— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 27, 2018
Somehow, even though they had only missed one shot in the quarter, the Warriors found themselves down by five halfway through the 3rd quarter.
Out of that timeout, the Warriors forced two stops - both either a shot clock violation, or a forced shot that was the functional equivalent to a shot clock violation. But you know what? It didn’t really get any better.
Stephen Curry throws a near turnover on a cross-court pass just to get Klay Thompson an open shot. Klay misses the open one.— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 27, 2018
It wasn’t a totally lost quarter. McKinnie looked active and was attacking the boards, Looney was a factor on both ends (including blocks, rebounds, and a couple of nifty up and under layups). Jerebko continues to impress me. I know it’s still early, but I like his game - active like Casspi, but without the offensive hesitation.
Still. Knicks went from a tie to a 10-point lead, Warriors lucky to end the 3rd only down three.
Let’s just pick this up midway, shall we? Here’s KD putting the Warriors back up on top:
KD puts the Dubs back on top pic.twitter.com/LAYzNZ3JFn— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) October 27, 2018
After struggling to find consistency all game, the Warriors found their stride with Steph on the bench by spamming the Durant pick and roll. Turns out, the Knicks don’t have anyone who can guard KD.
18 - 5 Warrior run builds an eight-point lead, the Knicks call a timeout, but it looks like the Warriors are going to pull away now that they care. Curry comes back in looking to expand that lead with about 5 minutes left in the game.
That run continued after the timeout, turning into a 23-5 run capped with a Draymond Green three. Knick misses are piling up as their offense stagnates. McKinnie hits yet another three, Warriors in the midst of a 26-5 run now.
Durant nails a bunch of threes and layups, and pretty much ends the game with two minutes to go. Warriors up by 21 as Kerr pulls all starters.