For roughly 28 minutes, the Warriors team shuffling around the hardwood at Oracle hardly resembled the dominant force the league has come to expect.
Shots clanked in every direction, bodies weren’t moving much, and the general flow and rhythm to the game was more disjointed than that Davidson rap song featuring one Stephen Curry.
But midway through the 3rd quarter, the Warriors finally managed to shake off the malaise that appeared to travel back with them from the Staples Center, and surge past an upstart Atlanta Hawks team that played better than their record may have advertised.
Lead by the hot-handed Taurean Prince, the Hawks refused to accept their role to simply fade away for that typical scripted ending in the aftermath of another 3rd quarter Warriors blitzkrieg. But despite chipping away to make it a 5 point deficit going into the final minute of the game, Kevin Durant hit a midrange dagger and a couple free-throws to seal a 110-103 win for the home team.
1st half - The Sunken Place
If you were hoping for the Warriors to come out guns blazing after their subpar display against the Clippers yesterday, you’d be disappointed.
Perhaps the energy was off due to the locker room kerfuffles between Draymond Green and Durant carrying over. Maybe the lethargy was due to this being the end of a back-to-back. Either way, it was surprising to see the champs struggle against one of the worser teams in the league.
The Warriors missed 7 of their first 8 shots and wound up unable to scratch 40% shooting — a season-low — before the halftime buzzer rang.
Durant and Klay Thompson only wound up going 8-21 from the field, which explains much of the team’s offensive woes.
The frustrating part of it was that it had much less to do with the Hawk’s defense as it did with the Warriors shot selection and making ability. It seemed like they forced as many shots without much ball movement as they clanked wide open looks.
Luckily the inactivity on the offensive end didn’t transmit over to the team’s defense, which helped keep the Hawks from ever breaking loose.
The length and activity of Klay Thompson — and the Warriors in general — helped keep Trae Young in check for most of the night, holding the rookie to a goose egg from downtown. When Young wasn’t being chased off the line, he was being funneled into the leaping and outstretched arms of the Warriors bigs.
With both teams searching for a spark, the Warriors eventually found theirs in Jonas Jerebko who hit 2 triples (4-7 for the game) and banged for a handful of rebounds. The Hawks meanwhile found a scoring punch early on from relic Vince Carter, who tossed in 2 triples himself upon entering the game.
Another Warriors standout in the first half was Jordan Bell, who showed some flashes that called back to his role on the team last year, when he would inject some energy into the team with his defense, rebounding, and rim-ending slams.
2nd half - Resurgence
Out of the break, things began to look a little dicey in the first several minutes as the Warriors still looked unable to break out of their offensive funk.
But then the dam finally broke and the flood gates opened as the ball started to hop around and those open looks started to fall.
The Warriors wound up hitting 5 triples in the 3rd quarter alone, matching the 5 they hit in the entire first half.
This coupled with some tight defense helped the team break away into a double-digit lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Both Durant and Thompson found some rhythm during the Warriors run, transforming their til-then lackluster stat-lines into ones that better resemble their abilities. Durant would end the game with 29 points on 9-23 shooting, while Thompson compiled 24 points on 8-19 shooting.
The Warriors also found a boost in Quinn Cook, who caught fire in the second half, rounding out a very solid game for the backup guard with 18 points and 6 assists. By the end of the game, the team needed all the help they could get. And with Curry and Green out, Cook acted as the tertiary scorer and distributor to fill that empty niche.
The Dubs take on their last-season nemesis in the Houston Rockets this Thursday. Stay tuned for the blood bath.
Random jotted thoughts
- Andre Iguodala’s shot looks really solid at the moment. The 3PTs he took tonight were as dead-on as they’ve ever been.
- Young has some great instincts and passing ability (something his 9 assists alludes to). But his shot looked almost as bad as Markelle Fultz’s on some of the 3PTs he hoisted.
- Alfonzo McKinnie didn’t have a great night overall, going 1-3 from the field and missing a few notable switches on defense. But his activity on the boards can’t be ignored. The kid soars with the best of them and somehow manages to get his hands on every rebound-able ball — even if he doesn’t end up with it.