23

Hold the Phone … Are the Warriors Playing Defense Now?

Warriors forward Dorell Wright, after swatting New Orleans big man DJ Mbenga’s layup, stood there and stared, a scowl on his face. He said he was looking to see how far the ball went.
It was the perfect cap to a third quarter in which the Warriors really established their defense. Yes, you read that right. The Warriors established their defense.

The Hornets had just 18 points in the fourth quarter. They missed 14 of 22 shots and turned the ball over five times. They got just three free throw attempts. The only thing that kept it from being worse was New Orleans’ six offensive rebounds in the quarter, which turned into eight points.
All in all, it was another solid defensive effort for the Warriors. Yes, you read that right. Another solid defensive effort. Golden State held the Hornets to 34-for-75 shooting (45.3 percent), that’s even more impressive considering New Orleans shot 64.7 percent in the first quarter.
The Warriors held the Hornets to 35.7 percent shooting in the second half, including 1-for-6 from 3-point range. Chris Paul went scoreless on three shots after halftime. Granted, he played just under two minutes in the fourth quarter, and forward David West didn’t play at all. But that was largely because the Warriors had the game under control.
That’s two consecutive games the Warriors’ defense controlled the game. Oklahoma City was held to 59 shots after coughing up the ball 20 times and being killed on the boards.
The Warriors have now held five of their last eight opponents below 100 points.
Granted, the Hornets did play without starting center Emeka Okafor, who is hurt. It’s not like he is a huge presence on offense, but he’s better than Aaron Gray and Jason Smith. So that helped the Warriors some.
And, granted, the five times they held opponents under 100 were at home (the two times they gave up triple digits was against Phoenix, and one to Denver). The Warriors don’t have many home games the rest of the way.
And, granted, two of the opponents they held under 100 were Milwaukee, a poor offensive team, and a Utah squad without star point guard Deron Williams. But, with that said, is it safe to say all that defensive talk by Keith Smart is starting to pay off?

Marcus Thompson