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Analysis: Warriors escape from New York with two wins, defeat Nets 120-114

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Curry and Durant go for a combined 69 points as the Dubs withstand a frenetic fourth quarter comeback by the Nets to get the win.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Brooklyn Nets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors hopped on the 2 train (well, not literally as I assume they took a team bus to the arena) and made the trip from Madison Square Garden to Barclays Center to face the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday afternoon. After grabbing the lead in the first quarter, the Warriors never gave it back. Though the Nets came charging back in the fourth quarter, the Warriors held on and earned the 120-114 victory for their fourth-consecutive win.

Curry and Durant do it again

For the third straight game, the Warriors’ two former MVPs played like... well, like MVPs. Against the Nets, it was Stephen Curry who led the Warriors in scoring with 35 points, while also handing out 3 assists and grabbing 7 rebounds. Curry also made a bit of history in the second quarter as he became the first player to make five or more three-pointers in seven-consecutive games, passing George McCloud’s record of six games.

Kevin Durant wasn’t that far behind Curry’s performance, as he scored 34 points in the Warriors’ win. In addition to those points, Durant finished Sunday afternoon’s game with 8 rebounds and 6 assists. It was Durant’s fifth game of the season with more-than-five assists, something pretty notable for a player who’s only had one season with 5.5 assists per game in his career.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Brooklyn Nets
The Nets had no answer for Durant’s scoring or his passing in the Warriors’ 120-114 win.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Curry and Durant have found a great balance and chemistry playing together this season, something that both of them addressed in their postgame comments.

There’s a certain art to the one-two punch that Curry and Durant provide. 24 of Curry’s 35 points came in the first half as the Warriors grabbed firm control of this game, leading by as many as 19 points in that first half. Durant, meanwhile scored 20 of his 34 points in the second half, including 12 in the fourth quarter, as the Nets stormed back and tried to steal the game from the Warriors.

One starts things out; the other closes things down. In another game, it might be Durant getting hot early and then Curry squelching their opponents’ remaining hope with a late-game barrage. But the two of them together, playing like this, to say it is symphonic might not be all that hyperbolic because that’s the kind of harmony they are showing.

Draymond does a little bit of everything

Curry’s offense in the first half, particularly in the second quarter, played a large role in the Warriors seizing control of this game. Another reason was the play of Draymond Green, particularly his defense. In that second quarter, the Nets turned the ball over seven times while the Warriors held the Nets to just 41.2% from the field and 37.5% from three-point range. Not surprisingly, Green was at the heart of this strong defensive quarter, getting 2 of his 5 steals in the second.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Brooklyn Nets
Scoring, rebounding, assisting, defending—Draymond Green did some of all of it in Sunday afternoon’s win.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

It was Green’s second-straight stellar game, picking up right where he left off against the Knicks on Friday night. In the win over the Nets, Green scored 8 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, and handed out 13 assists. With Curry and Durant playing so well right now, it doesn’t take much beyond those two to get a win. They just need Green’s defense, his distributing, and a few points here-or-there and they should be good to go. This is exactly what happened on Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn and why the Warriors were victorious.

Nets make it interesting in the fourth

While the Warriors led for most of the game and things never felt like they were out of their control, the Nets did mount an impressive charge in the fourth quarter to make things tense in the closing minutes. In the fourth, the Nets cut the Warriors’ lead from 16 points at the start to two points with less than two minutes left to go. The Nets used a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter to climb back into this game and make the Warriors have to work to get the win.

The main reason for that was the Nets’ three-point shooting. In the game’s final quarter, the Nets attempted 15 of their 42 three-pointers and made 7 of them. By contrast, the Nets only made 9 three-pointers as a team in the entire first half. Leading the way for the Nets in that quarter was D’Angelo Russell, who scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth, going 23 from beyond the arc. Allen Crabbe also caught fire from long distance in the fourth quarter, going 34 while scoring 10 of his 14 points.

Along with 11 points from Caris LeVert, the Nets tried their best to pull off an impressive comeback and steal a game from the defending champions. But the Warriors were able to answer on offense and come up with the stops on defense that enabled them to walk out of Barclays Center with a victory.

McKinnie shines in reserve role

With Shaun Livingston sitting this game out, the Warriors were going to need to find some minutes at the wing position. It’s one reason you saw Jacob Evans playing in the first quarter of Sunday afternoon’s game. But this also meant there would be a larger role for Alfonzo McKinnie. Playing 17 minutes, McKinnie scored 9 points while grabbing 5 rebounds and leading the team in +/- with a +12.

McKinnie, who played in 14 games last season with the Toronto Raptors and was a training camp-invitee for the Warriors who played his way into a two-year contract, has earn a fairly solid place in Steve Kerr’s early-season rotations. Against the Nets, McKinnie showed exactly why he’s fit in so well with this team, especially on this sequence towards the end of the third quarter.

After the game, Curry commented on how this could just be the beginning of good things for McKinnie as a part of this team.

With Patrick McCaw seemingly gone, figuring out who could fill that reserve-wing spot was going to be an important part of the early season. It looks like McKinnie has staked his claim to it for the time being.

To close on a musical note and to pay homage to the team the Warriors just played and the arena they just played in, here’s a song featuring two of the greatest musicians to ever come from Brooklyn.