As usual, my morning started with watching the Dubs. When the lead got to 20 in the first half, I was enjoying both the game and my tea and looking forward to watching Ryan Rollins playing extended minutes in the 4th Q. The game seemed firmly in the bag.
But then a disaster hit the Dubs in the 3rd Q and Ryan Rollins was out of my mind. The Warriors lost the 3rd Q 42-25. They could not stop the Hawks scoring and allowed 18-24 (75%) from the field, including 5-5 on 3s. At the same time, they committed 6 TOs on the other end and while Klay was 5-9 for 14 points, the rest of the team scored only 11 on 4-12 shooting. More importantly, the Hawks were fully in the game by the end of the 3rd and the Dubs had to refocus and try to win it for the second time.
The Warriors were very lucky that Klay stayed hot for the whole game, including two OTs. Poole was their second scorer and finished the game with 28 points. But he was highly inefficient (11-31 FGA, 2-12 on 3s) and a TO machine for the third game in a row, with 6 TOs after 6 and 7 in the previous two games.
The rest of the team struggled shooting 3s and the Hawks blocked a lot of shots at the rim (10 BLKs by Atlanta). The Warriors were looking for Klay and he was the saviour by both scoring (54 pts) and drawing multiple defenders and letting others to take advantage of that. Lamb was one of the beneficiaries and had 4 easy baskets at the rim, two of them on Klay’s passes. Klay had 3 ASTs in the game and the third one was also to Lamb, but from a Klay drive to a corner for a 3. Lamb had 4 ASTs, 2 to Klay and 2 to Dray. There might be some Klay-Lamb chemistry developing, something to keep an eye on.
Loon had 20 RBs and -20 in his 32.5 min. He played 8 min in that 3rd Q and this is where he was -16. Obviously, it wasn’t all on Loon, but in that Q, Okongwu was 5-7 for 10 points in 10 min and +15, doing quite well against Loon. In the 2020 draft, I thought Okongwu would have been a good fit for the Dubs if they decided to specifically draft a 5, as his defense was more NBA ready and the non-flashy offense would have been exactly what Kerr finds useful in a big. He is quicker than Loon but bigger than Dray and quite a smart player overall. He contributed a lot as a rookie in Atlanta’s playoffs run in 2021. Going back to Loon, he scored the game-winning basket where he caught a rebound and shot it off the glass before landing because the clock was expiring. Loon is more likely to score when he is decisive with his moves and this is how he was so efficient in the playoffs. But when he catches the ball first and then tries to score relying on pump-fakes, he is more likely to get blocked, because he ends up being trapped under the rim with 2 or 3 defenders on him.
While Klay was leading our offence in scoring, Dray helped that scoring to happen and anchored our defense (2 STLs and 3 BLKs). As it often happens, he didn’t have enough points to record a triple double with 13 RBs, 11 ASTs (2 TOs) and just 5 PTs. But 3 of those 5 points were huge when he hit a 3-pointer in the last minute of the second OT.
With half of the active roster not playing, Kerr gave some minutes to PBJ again and he did well. He took a few 3s and then after making one, he fooled Collins by not taking a 3 and driving to the rim instead for an easy layup. Atlanta tried to take advantage of his defense by going to Collins who scored on one possession and got a foul whistle on PBJ in the next. Unlike the refs, I thought PBJ got the ball first. He did get an unarguably clean block on another play, but on Okongwu this time. I think his defense will be all right and sooner than I thought just a few months ago.
Moody’s game is going downhill. He should be expecting playing time in every game now and it is a bad time to lose your shooting form. In this homestand, he is 2-11 on 3s and 4-8 on FTs. His +/- has been negative in the last 3 games. Can it get any worse?
Overall, the three vets made the major contributions to pull this W, with the youngsters tipping in whatever they could – Poole’s scoring, Lamb’s hustle on both ends, Ty’s and DDV’s defense and playmaking, PBJ’s 3s. But there was one other contributor – the pure luck. We were lucky when at the end of the 4th Klay didn’t make what he thought was a 3 pt shot as in fact it was only a 2 and wouldn’t have been enough to save the game. The rebound was picked up by JP and after Poole’s 3 was blocked, the ball somehow ended up in DDV’s hands. Donte was only 1-6 on 3s by then, but cold-bloodedly knocked down a 3 to send it into the OT. We were lucky again when Lamb was fighting on the floor for the ball and managed to push it to Dray, one of the least likely 3 pt makers. But Dray nailed that one to give the Dubs a 5 pt lead with 49 sec remaining in the second OT. Finally, on the very last possession Loon surrounded by two Hawks managed to rebound the ball twice and put it in on the second attempt. Game over.
The Dubs have won 5 in a row. The Suns have lost 3 in a row. Both teams are 20-18, occupying 8-9 in the West, but with only 2 more losses than Dallas in the 4th place. The Dubs are doing surprisingly OK without Steph. The Suns are struggling without Booker. We’ll see them facing each other next Tuesday. But before then, Detroit and Orlando are in town. Both teams are tanking but always ready to rain on Champs’ parade as they did in their first games against the Dubs. It is our turn to pocket Ws to get even on the season and avoid being swept by a group of cocky youngsters or even two of them.