The Warriors knew Saturday would be a tough one, even though New Orleans entered 13 games under .500. The Hornets had won six of seven and has some dangerous pieces.
CARL LANDRY: “They’re healthy. They’re playing well. They’re clicking. They’re rolling. They’re a very good basketball team right now.”
So Golden State braced for a fight, and they got one. The Warriors put New Orleans away with an 8-2 run late, securing a 116-112 victory.
The Warriors simply couldn’t afford to drop their fourth straight. Even with point guard Stephen Curry back in the lineup, the Warriors are underdogs their next three games (the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday,Oklahoma City on Wednesday, at Chicago). That made a win at New Orleans imperative.
The Warriors made it happen despite porous defense. The Hornets shot 57 percent and racked up 112 points in regulation. But Golden State managed three big quarters, including a 31-23 advantage in the fourth quarter, to outscore New Orleans.
MARK JACKSON: “This was different, but our identity remains. We defended and battled. We made mistakes but we didn’t quit. We rebounded and adjusted, and offensively I thought we executed and made plays. The thing I was most proud of was that we didn’t hang our heads, even when things weren’t going our way. It was a big-time victory.”
More on Saturday’s win …
MVP: Jarrett Jack
For the second consecutive game, Jack was a super-effective playmaker. He spent most of the second half at point. And with New Orleans’ interior defense negating the Warriors inside game, Jack came up huge down the stretch.
He finished with 25 points, 12 assists, two steals and just two turnovers.
Over his last two games, Jack has totaled 45 points, 22 assists and 3 turnovers. He scored 11 in the fourth quarter on Saturday. When he took jumpers, they were smart and timely. But he mostly focused on getting in the lane, the only Warrior who seemed unsatisfied with a jumper.
“He was special. He was awfully good. He’s a guy who puts in a lot of time. He had a couple tough outings prior to this, but he’s a pro and we believe in him. And obviously there was something extra coming back and playing against his former teammates. He made big plays for us.”
MDP: Carl Landry
With David Lee out, you probably expected a big game from him. He rebounded well (11). But he was hardly the inside presence you’d expect. Hornets rookie Anthony Davis is a special defender. But Landry not only did not challenge him, he didn’t seem to want to. For the first time all season, he got the ball in the post and was looking to pass it. The Warriors could’ve used some buckets from him, especially in the third quarter when the Hornets were hot. Would’ve like to see him take his time and use his experience and instinct in the lane, and get over it when he gets his shot blocked.
KEY MOMENT I: The Warriors caught fire from 3-point range midway through the second quarter to grab a big lead. Richard Jefferson started a 16-7 run with a 3-pointer from the corner. Then his steal led to a fast-break layup for Klay Thompson, who had a game-high 29. Jack then answered Ryan Anderson’s 3-pointer with one of his own, putting the Warriors up 52-40.
Thompson then drilled two 3-pointers in about a minute span, the latter putting the Warriors ahead 60-44.
TELLING STAT: The Hornets shot 57 percent from the field, and Golden State shot 49.4 percent. Yet the Warriors outscored New Orleans. How? Free throws. The Warriors were 30 of 35 from the line. Golden State took, 20 free throws in the fourth quarter, making 17. Of their 49 second-half points, 25 came from the free throw line.
YEAH, WHAT HE SAID: “People tend to say that you play with a chip on your shoulder when you play against your old team. I play with a chip on my shoulder all the time. Nothing has ever been given to me in this league. I always feel like that every night. I just go out there and try to prove myself whether we’re playing the Hornets, the Lakers or the Bobcats. I have the same mentality each and every night. Though, when I was on the way here, my iPod player — even though I had it on shuffle — a James Brown’s song came on called ‘The Big Payback.’ That was kind of weird.” — Warriors guard Jarrett Jack
KEY MOMENT II: The Warriors had their lead erased in the third quarter and found themselves down 7 early in the fourth quarter. Then Curry changed the tone of the game by going to the basket on consecutive possessions, drawing fouls twice and connecting on all four free throws. Landry then got to the line and hit a pair, cutting the deficit to one.
That stretch not only slowed down the Hornets, but got the Warriors some rhythm.
After a stop, Curry caught Greivis Vasquez with his hands down and drilled a long three to give the Warriors a 104-102 lead.
COACHES CORNER: Mark Jackson must’ve felt like I feel when I’m doing laundry and find a $20 in a pair of jeans or a jacket. He turned to Richard Jefferson and came up on some serious dividends. Jefferson, who rarely plays, came in and gave the Warriors 11 points, four rebounds and a steal in 18 minutes. And, boy, did the Warriors need it.
Jackson pushed a lot of right buttons with the bench on Saturday. With Lee out, it was smart to fill that void by committee instead of relying one player (like he relied on Jack when Curry was out). He used Landry, Draymond Green and Jefferson. He also kept Festus Ezeli out there instead of living on a small lineup. Ezeli posted a career-high in minutes (30) and points (13) to go with 8 rebounds and a block.
But he played with fire on a couple things. He called one time out in the fourth quarter, and that was early. The Warriors went from up four to down six in a three-minute span and Jackson let his team play through it. I had given up on criticizing his timeouts, because they were working. But after things spiraled out of control at the Los Angeles Clippers, vs.Miami, in the fourth quarter at Denver, you would think he would see things can get out of hand. Especially with one of his best players out with injury. But that’s simply not Jackson’s style.
Another risky decision was to play Curry more than 38 minutes.
JACKSON: “It’s so much easier because you’ve got to defend him all over the floor, or there is going to be a price to play. … I just wanted to make sure I didn’t over use him. It’s enticing to keep him out there. It’s awfully tough as a coach to keep him on the bench for a long period of time. He’s a tough, tough kid.”
Jackson certainly left Barnes on the bench for long periods. He played just 17 minutes.
SERIOUSLY?!: Jefferson got the pass on the right side, drove baseline and dunked it. But he didn’t just dunk it. The 12-year veteran shocked even his bench by throwing down a 180-degree reverse dunk. With two hands. It was so nasty, David Lee walked over to the scorer’s table (for a piece of gum) minutes later still in awe. “Richard Jefferson,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief.
JACKSON: “I didn’t know he had a two-handed reverse in him, but I knew he had some game in him.”
KEY MOMENT III: Inside a minute left, the Warriors trailed 110-108. Jack intercepted a pass from Hornets guard Eric Gordon pass (a not-smart cross court pass) and turned it into a fast-break, which led to his game-tying free throws.
The Warriors then got a stop after Gordon bricked a 20-footer and had the ball with 34.7 seconds. Out of a timeout, they went for the 2-for-1. Jack came curling off a screen, caught the ball at the top and immediately drove to the basket. He dropped in a runner in the lane to put the Warriors up 112-110. And with 31.8 left, set the Warriors up to get the final shot.
Golden State wouldn’t need it though. An offensive foul on Jason Smith gave the Warriors the ball back. Curry had picked up the pressure on Vasquez early. Because of that, screening him and freeing up Vasquez was harder, prompting Smith to do a little extra to impede Curry. The officials caught him.
After an intentional foul, Jack split a pair of free throws, leaving the Warriors up by three.New Orleansstill had life. With 22 seconds left, a 3-pointer would have tied it.
Hornets point guard Greivis Vasquez got a good look. That’s because on Gordon’s drive, Curry and rookie forward Draymond Green got sucked into the lane (of course, with the Warriors up three, they needed to cover the 3-point line more than the paint). Gordon hit an open Vasquez. Curry and Green closed out well, though, and Vasquez missed.
BEFORE YOU GO: Warriors guard Klay Thompson had 24 points in the first half, knocking down 10 of 13 from the field. In the second half, he had just five points on 1 of 3 shooting. And it was a good thing.
Thompson didn’t use his hot shooting as a license to chuck away. He missed a couple and eased off the gas pedal. He said he had his hands full defending Eric Gordon anyway, so he wanted to really get it done on defense.
THOMPSON: “Just one of those nights. We had other guys really get going. It was the second straight night I had a really good challenge on the defensive end. … In the second half, I let my shot come to me still. I wasn’t forcing anything.”