After back-to-back home wins against the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder to begin the final stretch of the regular season, the Warriors traveled east to face the New York Knicks and begin a three-game road trip on Monday night. The Knicks kept things close in this one and even lead by one point at halftime. But appropriately enough, being in the NBA’s biggest theater— Madison Square Garden— the Warriors played their greatest hit. In other words, it was another dominant third quarter for the Warriors. By outscoring the Knicks by 21 points in that third quarter, the Warriors seized control of the game and never gave it back, winning by the final score of 125-111.
Mudiay leads the way for the Knicks in the first half
After a strong defensive performance against the Thunder on Saturday night, the Warriors started Monday night’s game against the Knicks without that intensity. In the first half, the Knicks shot 57% from the field with Emmanuel Mudiay scoring 18 points, including shooting three-for-four from three-point range.
Punctuating this less-than-stellar first half of defense for the Warriors was Lance Thomas knocking down this three-pointer as time expired to give the Knicks a 64-63 halftime lead.
The high points of the first half for the Warriors came on offense, as Kevin Durant scored 18 points during that stretch. Three of those points came on this shot after crossing up his friend from childhood, Michael Beasley.
Check out the moves by Kevin Durant! Mercy! pic.twitter.com/ZAAUvvnmfx— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 27, 2018
Perhaps even sweeter was Durant putting his former teammate Enes Kanter on ice skates later in the second quarter for the mid-range jumper.
KD had Kanter dancing. pic.twitter.com/XhnUjauiII— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 27, 2018
Given the history between the two along with Kanter’s actions and comments after Durant left the Thunder to play with the Warriors, seeing the 2017 Finals MVP make Kanter look foolish was quite an enjoyable sight. Durant finished Monday night’s game with 22 points, doing the bulk of that scoring in the first half.
But while the Warriors played well offensively, scoring 63 points and shooting 54% from the field in the first half, they trailed at halftime because their defensive effort left so much to be desired.
third-act third-quarter epiphany for the Warriors
In many plays and pieces of theatre, it is the third act in which the climax occurs and everything is decided. Thus it made sense that, playing just a few blocks away from Broadway, the Warriors used the third quarter to effectively end Monday night’s game with the Knicks.
While the Warriors trailed by one point at halftime, they dominated the third, outscoring the home team 39-18. The quarter began with an 11-0 run that featured two consecutive three-pointers from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Here come the Dubs. Up 8 in the 3rd quarter pic.twitter.com/bLan8qIMjZ— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 27, 2018
Thompson finished with a game-high 26 points while Curry ended Monday night’s contest with 21 points in just three quarters of action. Having Durant, Thompson, and Curry all score around 20 points reflected just how balanced offensively the Warriors were. Six Warriors players scored in double-figures as they were getting contributions up and down the roster.
Monday night’s third quarter was one of those ones when it seemed like every shot was going to go in for the Warriors. This included JaVale McGee making this fadeaway jump shot, much to the dismay of former Daily Show host and Knicks fan Jon Stewart.
Jon Stewart wasn't ready for a JaVale McGee fadeaway pic.twitter.com/jiX6b6WnmB— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) February 27, 2018
Though the Warriors buried the Knicks under this offensive barrage, the real key to their third-quarter dominance was their defense. Here you see them both on display, as this Draymond Green steal leads directly to a Thompson three-pointer.
After allowing the Knicks to get and make just about any shot they wanted in the first half, the Warriors put the clamps down in the third quarter, holding the Knicks to just 7/23 shooting from the field. Though the Knicks are no one’s idea of an elite offense, especially without Kristaps Porzingis in the lineup, the way the Warriors asserted control defensively in the third quarter was nevertheless quite impressive.
Iguodala continues to gear up for the postseason
Save for his defensive struggles in the first half, Andre Iguodala had his third-straight nice game coming out of the All-Star Break. Iguodala scored nine points on Monday night, his highest point total since scoring ten against the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 25th. Most important for Warriors fans, Iguodala made two shots from three-point range against the Knicks, his first game with multiple made three-pointers since November 25th.
At various points during this regular season, people have complained about Iguodala’s contract, that he fleeced GM Bob Myers and the Warriors front office and he can no longer play at a high level. While the true measure of Iguodala’s value to this team won’t show until the playoffs begin, seeing him play well in this final stretch of the regular season bodes well for Iguodala and his ability to turn it on when the situation calls for it.
JaVale starts, Jordan returns
McGee started his third-straight game for the Warriors on Monday night, as he appears to have gone from the last man on the bench to back in head coach Steve Kerr’s rotation. McGee scored ten points against the Knicks, his highest point total since scoring 11 in a blowout loss to the Utah Jazz on January 30th. Six of McGee’s ten points came in the first quarter, which even included a nifty driving layup.
McGee had two assists in the first quarter and finished the game with three, tying his season high. McGee is at his best when he’s energizing the team with his high-flying thunderous alley-oop dunks but it’s quite heartening to see these new wrinkles develop in his game. It reflects the work and effort he’s been putting in with the Warriors, which is why he’s still an important part of this team.
Monday night also witnessed the return of Jordan Bell to the Warriors lineup. After missing the previous 14 games while nursing a sprained ankle, the rookie made his first appearance since January 17th. Bell only played 13 minutes, most of which came in the fourth quarter when the outcome of the game had long since been decided. But having Bell back for the remainder of the regular season is important, so he can get back up to game speed. His athleticism and defense will both be very important once the playoffs begin and thus the Warriors want to get him back on track as soon as possible.
Who was your Warrior Wonder for the win over the Knicks?
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