Now, THAT was Golden State Warriors’ Basketball in all of its high scoring, hustling, and joyful glory.
Powered by Kevin Durant’s all-around performance of 32 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 blocks and Klay Thompson’s 31 points on 12-of-21 from the field, the Warriors for the first time in weeks played with energy and joy as they demolished the Portland Trailblazers 125-97.
Back To Basics
While most of the attention will go to the Warriors waking up on offense, it was the defense and the hustle plays that catalyzed this streak-snapping win. Golden State was aggressive in the passing lanes, nabbing 11 steals and forcing 13 turnovers. What really stood out, however was the the block party. The Warriors swatted 11 shots in the paint and out rebounded Portland 36-27 on the defensive glass. While the entire team played with more energy on defense than in the past six games, no one epitomized hustle last night more than Jordan Bell.
Bell finished the night with 5 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, and finished the game with a +26. Bell’s game is worth mentioning because he’s struggled for playing time for most of the season. Could his performance against the Blazers be the turning point in his year? Bell’s progression after this game is something worth monitoring.
Come Through, Benchmob!
The Warriors’ bench has been maligned for most of the season for its lack of depth and lack of offensive production. Last night, the Warriors’ bench outscored Portland’s 37-19. Shaun Livingston lead the unit with 11 points, while Damion Lee and Jonas Jerebko chipped in with eight and seven points respectively. The second unit also shot a combined 14-24 58 percent from the field and 4-8 from three.
Should there be a change at the 5?
Once again, Damian Jones continues to struggle on the glass. After not grabbing a single rebound against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, Jones only managed to grab one last night agasint Portland. He also didn’t contribute offensively, scoring no points and only attempting one shot. The ineffectiveness of Jones and of the young bigs is the crux of the Warriors’ problems in the paint. Granted, the Warriors believe that Jones has more potential than the rest of the unit. However, that’s not saying much when not only Jones struggles to rebound but also has guys like Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins constantly in Jones’ ear to be more aggressive.
Kevon Looney may be foul prone and not as athletic as Jones, but he has been solid in terms of production. Against the Blazers, Looney scored 6 points and 3 rebounds. Against Oklahoma City, Looney snagged 9 rebounds to Jones’ 0. Depending on the match up, you could very will also make a case for Bell at the five. Granted, he may freelance on defense. However, Bell has the energy and will to hustle on the boards, while Jones doesn’t at times. So with that being said, why does head coach Steve Kerr and defensive coach Ron Adams continue to invest so much time and energy into Jones while someone like Bell is bouncing in and out of the rotation?
Since Kerr is struggling with Jones at the five, it’s worth exploring a center by committee approach at this point. At least, a few of the young bigs would get adequate playing time and absorb what they’ve experienced as the season progress and Kerr could also continue to evaluate the position. Jones intentions are good. He means well but one rebound in two games is inexplainable and unacceptable given his size and athleticism.