After Saturday night’s thrilling game against the Boston Celtics, the Warriors were perhaps poised for something of a letdown against the Indiana Pacers. Though the Pacers boast the third-best record in the Eastern Conference, they’re playing without their best player in Victor Oladipo, who is out for the season after injuring his knee against the Toronto Raptors on January 23rd. For this game against the Warriors, they’d also be without Tyreke Evans. The possibility for a letdown seemed even greater for the Warriors given that Draymond Green would also miss this game to get some scheduled rest.
Even though the potential for a trap game was there, the Warriors played right through it. The defending champs dominated the game from the start, methodically breaking the Pacers down on their way to a 132-100 win to finish off this road trip a perfect 5-0.
A first-quarter scare
The Warriors looked good in the first quarter, shooting 65.2% from the field and scoring 40 points to open up an 18-point lead by the time the first quarter game to a close. You got the feeling from the opening tip that the Warriors wanted to take care of business early, make short work of this undermanned Pacers squad, and bring this road trip to an uplifting end.
Stephen Curry provided the Warriors with most of their offense in the first quarter, scoring 10 points. It wasn’t just his three-point shooting (though he went 2/2 from long distance in the opening frame) as Curry also showed off his handles as he lost two defenders to score this basket.
This basket came just before Curry picked up his second personal foul of the game, which sent him to the bench for the final three-and-a-half minutes of the first quarter.
There was a scary moment in that first quarter though. After coming up with the ball on a Darren Collison turnover, DeMarcus Cousins was leading the fast break and about to throw down a dunk when Myles Turner wrapped him up for the foul. Cousins took a hard fall and stayed down for a few moments, something you don’t want to see from someone coming back from a serious injury and playing in just his fifth game of the season.
Luckily, Cousins got back up, stayed in the game, knocked down his free throws, and then made a three-pointer off a nifty Curry assist.
This was the 13th time this season that the Warriors have scored 40+ points in a quarter and their 8th time doing it in the first quarter. The Warriors got off on the right foot on Monday night, making sure that there would be no letdown or slip-up in this game.
Curry blows it open in the second
Curry had a stellar second quarter, one that saw them push their lead to 21 points at the end of the first half. Curry scored 13 of his 26 points in that second quarter, shooting a perfect 3/ from long distance as well. Curry closed out the first half with one of those three-pointers, making this buzzer-beater from 27 feet.
STEPH BEATS THE BUZZER pic.twitter.com/nI7sREOe5R— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 29, 2019
That’s the kind of basket that cannot help but inspire joy in the hearts of all Warriors fans.
The only bad part of Curry’s second quarter came while he attempted to celebrate yet another impressive Klay Thompson dunk.
Steph TOO HYPE for Klay’s dunk pic.twitter.com/HzHgSlZyEU— NBCSAuthentic (@NBCSAuthentic) January 29, 2019
Curry wiped out after tripping over a warmup shirt as he got up to make some noise for his fellow Splash Brother. To be fair, it was a pretty strong dunk by Thompson for 2 of his 16 points in Monday night’s win, so I don’t think we can blame him.
Shaun Livingston got in the act in the second quarter as well, scoring including this bucket that took some impressive aim and geometry to make.
With Curry leading the way, the Warriors led by 20+ points heading into halftime and most of the stars knew they were probably going to be playing just one more quarter in this game.
The young bigs shine in the third
The third quarter saw the Warriors push their lead to 22 points, sapping the game of whatever drama still remained. While their marquee players made some nice contributions in the third, their two young big men stole the show a bit and turned more than a few heads.
Kevon Looney scored 7 of his career-high 15 points in the third quarter. In the win over the Pacers, Looney also grabbed 5 rebounds while also playing stellar defense. Not having to play those starter’s minutes, being able to come off the bench and be a burst of energy, that suits Looney’s game and allows him to maximize his talent and what he brings to this Warriors team.
Getting the start with Green sitting this game out for rest, Jordan Bell was finally able to get a decent amount of playing time against the Pacers. Playing nearly 19 minutes (his most minutes since a December 3rd win at the Atlanta Hawks), Bell scored 8 points including 6 points in the third frame. Bell also grabbed 5 rebounds on Monday night, showing the energy and athleticism that make him such an interesting player, yet staying in control and not making too many mistakes. It was maybe the best Bell has played all season, his game helped by the presence of a true center in Cousins.
Cousins closes out the win
The fourth quarter of this game was almost entirely garbage time, the outcome of the game had been decided and the Warriors just running out the clock to get out of the Hoosier State with their tenth-straight road victory. But it was an important fourth quarter for Cousins , who got his longest stretch of playing time without Curry or Kevin Durant on the floor. Cousins was allowed to be the focal point of the offense during the fourth quarter and he made the best of that opportunity.
Cousins scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, on his way to 22 points. It was Cousins’ first game with 20+ in a Warriors uniform.
Cousins finished the game with 6 rebounds and 4 assists, his size helpful against the Pacers’ big men like Turner and Thaddeus Young. There’s still room for improvement and he’s still getting back into game shape but one cannot help but be impressed with how well Cousins’ has played thus far and how promising it bodes for the Warriors going forward this season.
In that fourth quarter, it was clear that Cousins’ was feeling good about himself and his play.
Pacers tried to post Domantas Sabonis against Cousins on the right block. Didn't work. Cousins yells at Warriors bench: "He not moving me"— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 29, 2019
The Warriors return to the Bay Area and get ready for an exciting showdown on Thursday night against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers in Cousins’ Warriors’ debut at Oracle Arena.