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Revisiting Game 13: Golden State Looks Like Old Warriors in Loss at Denver

The Warriors certainly weren’t the gritty, hang-in-there, never give-up type road team they’d show for most of the year. They’ve often praised themselves for staying close instead of caving like the Warriors of the past.

But Friday, they caved.  The new Warriors looked like the Warriors of old, losing 102-91 at Denver. It wasn’t as close as the score suggested. It seems like Denveris just a bad match-up.

“Needless to say, especially after our last game against them, they’re not our favorite team,” forward David Lee said of the Nuggets after he finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

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Revisiting Game 12: Klay Thompson Comes Alive in Warriors’ Win Over Brooklyn

Warriors coach Mark Jackson keeps saying he wasn’t worried about the shooting of guard Klay Thompson. His patience was rewarded Wednesday. He scored 23 points on 10 of 19 shooting to break out of his slump and lift the Warriors to a 102-93 win over the visiting Brooklyn Nets.

JACKSON: “I’ve said all along, I’m not concerned about Klay shooting. That’s like being concerned about Albert Pujols not hitting: it’s going to turn. He works too hard. It’s a gift. You don’t lose a gift. I’m glad that he shot with confidence. It’s so easy to overlook, but this guys has been defending. Steph wasn’t at 100 percent so I put Klay on Deron Williams, who is arguably the best in the business at his position. Klay did a very good job. You weren’t going to stop him, but he made him work. That shot (of Thompson’s) is a thing of beauty and its great to see him knock it down.”

(SIDENOTE: Somebody should tell Jackson that Pujols finished 40 points below his career average and with the lowest homerun total of his career. And his team did NOT make the playoffs.)

The Warriors outrebounded the Nets 43-35 to improve to 7-0 when outrebounding their opponents. Golden State’s defense held the Nets to 37.5 percent shooting after the first quarter, outscoring Brooklyn 56-36 over the second and third quarters.

Of course, the Nets were on the end of a back-to-back, having played at the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. And Brooklyn sat down small forward Gerald Wallace (rest). So the Warriors didn’t beat the best of the Nets. But they did do what they needed to do — get the victory.

A large part of that was the breakout game by Thompson.

THOMPSON: “I felt like I got my game back. It felt great. I get to build on it Friday and keep this win steak going. We’ve got to stay tough.”

The question now is did Thompson just get hot one game or is he over his shooting woes?

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Brandon Rush: “It’s a Dread Going Through it Again”

Warriors swingman Brandon Rush returned to Oracle Arena for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury. In the Nov. 2 home loss to Memphis, Rush tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee. He landed awkwardly after trying to dunk over Grizzlies PF Zach Randolph.

Rush, who tore his right ACL while in college at Kansas, talks for the first time publicly.

How are your emotions coming back here?

“Pretty high right now. I haven’t been able to watch any live basketball since the injury. But I feel pretty good about coming back here, seeing the fans and hopefully getting the win while I’m here.”

How have you gotten through it so far?

“Just going day by day, thinking everything will be ok. I’ve got everybody hitting me up every day, so that’s a good feeling. I just go day by day, take it one day at a time.”

What did it mean for the team to come visit you?

“It meant a lot to see a team come to your house, check on you, spend time with you after a big injury like that. Definitely a good feeling. I thank coach for that, too. He’s the one who set it up.”

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Revisiting Game 11: Stephen Curry Carries the Warriors

Certainly, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry had some rough nights over the first 10 games. But did he come into his own at American Airlines Center on Monday?

Coach Mark Jackson thinks so.

JACKSON: “He is our leader. But (Monday), I really believe he took it to a whole different level.”

The fact that Curry was able to carry the Warriors despite a rough shooting night was a testament to his development. In overtime, he didn’t take a 3-pointer. Instead, he used screens, ball-handling and the threat of his jumper to get into the lane. It was the most point guard-like he’s looked all season.

The question for Curry, and the Warriors, is can he play with such command on a regular basis? Can he get into the lane with the same kind of frequency? Can he outplay opposing point guards consistently (Mavericks guard Darren Collison had 7 points on 2 of 11 with 5 assists and 5 turnovers in 39 minutes) and force teams to make some adjustments?

A lot of it, as Mark Jackson admits, is going to be based on his teammates and coaches.

JACKSON: “The thing about it is teams are going to treat him like he’s that guy. Were going to have to set screens, get him open, make life easy for him. Tonight, I thought we did a great job of screening and then he did a great job of coming off aggressive, whether it was to score or to make plays. He ran this team down the stretch the way that I envision him running.

Despite Curry’s clutchness, it was the Warriors’ defense and rebounding that won the game. Golden State dominated the boards 62-43. Despite having problems containing O.J. Mayo, the Warriors came up with numerous critical stops. Dallas had just 7 offensive rebounds.

The Warriors held them to 43 percent shooting and 26 points in the paint. That was vital considering they shot 40.7 percent and turned it over 21 times.

CURRY: “It was a team effort on the road tonight. We got stops and played aggressive on both ends of the floor. … We were able to make plays when they counted and that obviously gave us the win tonight.”

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Revisiting Game 10: Warriors Just Can’t Hang with Thunder

The Warriors weren’t going to beat the powerhouse Thunder anyway. The real question was in what fashion they lose.

In the grand scheme of things, Sunday’s 119-109 loss to Oklahoma City was one they could swallow. Golden State shot the higher percentage (52.4) and hung with the Thunder on the boards (40-35). The Warriors kept their turnovers down and their bench outscored Oklahoma City’s.

So how did they trail by as much as 22 and walk away with a loss. To put it generally,Oklahoma City is superior.

MARK JACKSON: “We played against a very good basketball team that went to the Finals last year. They have a couple of very special players. … The thing that I pointed out to our guys is that this is a process and they went through the same kind of experience and learned from it. It is important for us to do the same thing and continue to get better.”

To put it specifically, the Warriors offense couldn’t keep up with Oklahoma City’s attack and their offense couldn’t stop it.

Point guard Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 22 points and six assists. Lee finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Forward Carl Landry’s 14 points led a Warriors’ bench that 47 points (to the Thunder’s 40).

But much of the Warriors’ offense success came in the second half, after they got down big. And they got down big because they were helpless against the Thunder’s stars.

Point guard Russell Westbrook finished with 30 points and six assists. Forward Kevin Durant notched his first-career triple-double: 25 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Guard Kevin Martin had 23 points off the bench.

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What to Watch For (Game 10): This Could Be a Statement Game for Warriors

The Warriors aren’t supposed to win. And they probably won’t.

But how much different would their season, their record look, if they walked out of Oklahoma City with a victory? Playoff teams win big games on the road. Golden State already has one under their belt this season, beating the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. But beating the Thunder, the defending champions in the Western Conference, on their court would be a real boon to the young Golden State squad.

Of course, staying competitive could even have a positive effect. What the Warriors don’t need is to get run out of the gym like they did against the Lakers.

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Revisiting Game 9: Warriors Survive Scare in Minnesota

The Warriors have their first win streak of the season and are back above .500.

Yes, Golden State was playing a depleted team. The Timberwolves were missing six of their top seven players due to injury: forwards Kevin Love, point guard Ricky Rubio, center Nikola Pekovic, swingman Brandon Roy, forward Chase Budinger and guard J.J. Barea.

Yes, Golden State had a 14-point lead with 7:58 and wound up needing to eke out a victory against the aforementioned second-string squad.

But from the perspective of the bigger picture, the Warriors got some much-needed experience at winning. And they did it while winning, hanging on for a 106-98 victory at the Target Center. In the end, Golden State walked away with a win they had to have.

STEPHEN CURRY: “The final score is obviously the most important thing. We might have done ourselves a disservice tonight letting it get interesting down the stretch, letting them come back. But being able to withstand a run like that on the road, that’s a good way to win”

You’d half expect Mark Jackson to be upset that his team blew a lead to the Timberwolves’ JV squad. But what benefit is there in a blow-out road win over a bad team. The Warriors are a work in progress. They have been besieged by inexperience. In the long run, close games are better for them, even if they are a result of a little choking.

Friday, Golden State had to do all of the following:

* Make good decisions to get key buckets at crucial moments. They needed one badly and the play was for Curry, who moved to SG. He often curls off the screen, catches the ball and pivots backwards, bringing the step-back 3-pointer in play. This time, he caught the ball near the left elbow and didn’t give any ground with his pivot. He sized up his options from right where he caught it, which led to a stationary 20-footer he nailed instead of a step-back 3-pointer. His jumper ended a 9-0 Minnesota run.

Minutes later, David Lee got the ball in the post, the Warriors up 94-91 inside of three minutes left. He executed what seems to be a budding go-to move: get the ball at mid post, cross to the right and spin back left for a hook off the glass.

* Get defensive stops. The Timberwolves were held to 3-for-11 from the field over the last four minutes. Most important, when the game was really decided — between the 4:02 mark and the 1:36 mark, when a Harrison Barnes dunk all but put the game away — the Warriors got four straight stops. Before that stretch, Minnesota was 8 of 15 from the field.

* Rebound when they needed a rebound most. Minnesota’s only two offensive rebounds down the stretch came in the chaos of the final 30 seconds, long caroms off desperate 3-pointers, when the game was pretty over.

All valuable experience.

MARK JACKSON: “They made plays. They’re at home. They started making shots. … We knew they’d make a run. Some of it was mistakes by us. But give them credit. At the end of the day, I’m very happy that my guys made the plays necessary to be made to allow us to leave here with a win.”

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