Playing in Atlanta on Friday night, the Golden State Warriors were in control for most of their game against the Atlanta Hawks, leading by as many as 15 points. Though the Hawks used a 9-0 run in the final two minutes of the game to cut the Warriors’ advantage to two points, the Warriors hung on for the win, one that was punctuated by this steal and slam dunk by Andre Iguodala.
As the Hawks are one of the teams near the bottom of the league’s standings, one shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from this game. That said, there are a few things from this game that are worth highlighting.
Curry scores 28 points in just 23 minutes
Midway through the first quarter, Warriors fans had an all-too familiar scare as Stephen Curry either tweaked or mildly sprained (depending upon whose tweets you were looking at) his right ankle. Here’s the play in which it happened, as Curry comes down on Zaza Pachulia’s foot and slightly turns that ankle while defending in the lane. That right ankle is the same one that gave him problems earlier this season. If you’re a perennially nervous Warriors fan, I would advise looking away.
Stephen Curry is currently on the bench after twisting his ankle on Zaza Pachulia. Here’s video of the play. pic.twitter.com/WXDtbwtzA1— Logan Murdock (@loganmmurdock) March 3, 2018
Curry was subbed out with 1:22 left to go in the first quarter and eventually went back to the Warriors’ locker room during his usual rest period in the second quarter. Curry returned to the floor with 7:18 left in the second. Back on the court, Curry showed no ill effects and looked like his usual, amazing All-Star self out there.
Curry scored 25 points in the first half of Friday night’s game against the Hawks, with 15 of those coming in those 7+ minutes in the second quarter. However, Curry scored just three more points, to finish with 28 points, as he left the game with 6:24 left in the third quarter and did not return.
This decision to end Curry’s night early was a precautionary measure more than anything else and not indicative of anything profoundly serious. After the game, Curry said he should be good to go for the Warriors’ next game and the team’s upcoming schedule is also conducive to Curry getting rest to allow the ankle to heal.
Nice batch of rest ahead for Steph Curry and that tweaked right ankle.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 3, 2018
-Done for tonight
-Saturday: No practice
-Sunday: No practice
-Monday: Practice, still no game
-Tuesday: Next GSW game
Kevin Durant also scored 28 points in Friday night’s game, though it took him 35 minutes to get those points.
With Curry and Durant both scoring nearly 30 points and Klay Thompson contributing 15 points of his own, a big part of why the Warriors earned this victory was because their stars played like stars and put up big numbers.
A Swaggy Appearance in Atlanta
While Curry and Durant having big nights is very much the norm, Nick Young surprised by scoring 16 points while playing 23 minutes with Curry on the sideline.
Not surprisingly, the bulk of Young’s points came from three-point range.
Young shot 4-for-8 from three-point range and continued his recent solid play. There are still the moments when he does something that leaves you scratching your head in disbelief. But, with that said, Young is looking a little bit more like the player the Warriors wanted and thought they were getting this past offseason. This is another welcome sight for the Warriors and their fans as we get closer and closer to the postseason.
Draymond displays his passing prowess
After scoring double-digit points in each of the games after the All-Star break, Draymond Green contributed just two points in Friday night’s win over the Hawks. However, Green still had an impact on the game, especially on offense, as he finished the game with nine assists, serving as the Warriors’ primary play-initiator throughout the night.
Five of Green’s assists came in the first quarter, with two coming courtesy of alley-oop passes to Durant.
While Green has stepped up his defensive intensity of late, against the Hawks his passing skills were allowed to shine, as he dictated much of what happened on offense for the Warriors.
Showing Bazemore and Budenholzer some love
Though the Hawks have struggled a great deal this season and missed plenty of opportunities in Friday night’s game, a lone bright spot was guard (and former Warrior player) Kent Bazemore. Bazemore scored 29 points against the Warriors, both a game high as well as a season high for the Hawks’ guard.
The Hawks are clearly in the midst of an enormous rebuild, but if Bazemore can be a bit more productive and rookie John Collins can continue to develop, their stay in the basement of the Eastern Conference might not be as long as some think.
Another bright spot for the Hawks is their head coach, Mike Budenholzer. You can see the impact that Budenholzer, a former San Antonio Spurs assistant, has on this team. Even though there was a clear talent disparity in Friday night’s game, the Hawks were still energetic and put in a very good effort against the defending champs.
That the Hawks could show that kind of effort, when they are so clearly outgunned and looking towards next year, really reflects well on their coach. Budenholzer is clearly someone who did learn a great deal from Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, which you can see even in this rough of a season.
The Hawks’ MVP— Sir Foster
I would be remiss if, with the Warriors playing at Philips Arena for this game, I did not mention the best part about any team visiting the Hawks—getting to hear Sir Foster. If you don’t know his story you should definitely check it out. But he’s easily the best organist playing at NBA games and one of the things that makes the league so special. He’s even invited to All-Star Weekend where he provides a great soundtrack to the game.
You probably caught some of his playing behind the play-by-play of Friday night’s game. But if you didn’t get your fill, here are some videos of Sir Foster being awesome in the past.
Also, he apparently played “Pony” by Ginuwine during a game but, because there can be nothing good in the universe, there’s no video of it anymore. But the next time you watch a game being played at Philips Arena, be sure to listen for the organ stylings of Sir Foster because he is outstanding.
Who was your Warrior Wonder vs the Atlanta Hawks?
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