Andre Iguodala is noticeably mild mannered. His speech is monotone and his face rarely shows emotion save for the occasional smile. So when he said, so matter-of-factly, he didn’t put much stock in playing against his former team, it actually sounded believable.
Mark Jackson didn’t buy it. And the way Iguodala played, it was clear this was a big game for the ex-76er.
In his second game back in Wells Fargo Center, Iguodala got his first win, torching Philadelphia for 32 points in 32 minutes. He knocked down 7 of 11 from 3-point range, a career-high.
“Its no secret. You want to kill ‘em,” coach Mark Jackson said of the mindset playing former teams. “You say all the right things before hand just in case it doesn’t work out. But the mindset is to make a statement.”
The knock on Iguodala, when he was traded out of Denver, was that he wasn’t a reliable scorer because he couldn’t shoot. Many said he was ill-positioned as the 76ers’ go-to guy.
So it seemed a little redemptive for Iguodala to light it up, especially with his outside shot.
“It does feel good,” Iguodala said after the game, “but I wasn’t trying to prove anything.”
Iguodala didn’t just stay out there. He showed off his full arsenal. He threw down a couple of thunderous dunks, one a beyond-half-court lob from Curry. He also provided the highlight of the night: an around-the-back, mid-air pass from the 3-point line to a cutting David Lee for a layup.
“I’ve made some crazy passes before,” Curry said. “I don’t know how he even thought to do it. All the way at the 3-point line in the corner, he had to catch it in air and sling it at the same time. On target. That was pretty special.”
More on Monday’s win ….
Most Valuable Player (MVP)…
Stephen Curry. He played his best floor game of the season. Even though his shot wasn’t clicking, he controlled the game on offense. He pushed the tempo every opportunity, passing the ball up the floor instead of dribbling. In the halfcourt set, he set the tone for the ball movement by luring the double to open up passing angles. If he wasn’t whipping the ball around, he was going straight at Michael Carter-Williams.
To have 18 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds and 5 steals in a game is a great game. To do it in three quarters is ridiculous. His offensive rating was 128, while his defensive rating was 72.
Most Disappointing Player (MDP) …
Toney Douglas. He was outplayed by Toney Wroten, who had 14 points off the bench. Most important, he wasn’t the floor general the Warriors needed in the second unit. He was 1 of 5 from the field, but the second string was chaotic and clumsy. If that unit is to be any good, he’s going to have to lead.
KEY MOMENT I…
It’s hard to believe, but the Warriors actually trailed. It was 12-10 Philadelphia with 8:22 left in the first quarter. But Warriors ripped off an 18-0 run. During the stretch, the 76ers missed eight straights and turned it over three times.
Curry started the run with a step-back jumper. The next time down, Lee put back his own miss. At the 6:43 mark, Thompson put the Warriors up 16-12 by grabbing a rebound and taking it all the way for a reverse layup.
Out of a timeout, Iguodala drained a 3-pointer and Curry turned a steal into a driving finger roll at the other end. Lee put back his own miss again, then another Curry steal led to a transition 3-pointer by Thompson.
Another timeout still couldn’t stop the Warriors, as missed 3-pointer by Philadelphia turned into a 60-foot alley-oop from Curry to Iguodala. The Warriors led 28-16 at the 4:40 mark.
The 76ers shot just 35.2 percent from the field. And that was with the reserves slacking on defense. When the starters checked out, the 76ers were shooting 33.3 percent, had missed 11 of their 13 attempts from 3 and had just 18 points in the paint.
This is the second consecutive game the Warriors have held an opponent in the mid-30s.
WHAT WAS THAT?…
Late in the second quarter, Lee corralled a rebound and pushed it a few dribbles then threw a perfect lob to Iguodala for a dunk. On the ensuing possession, Draymond Green came up with a steal and threw another lob to Iguodala. But he missed the dunk.
“I was tired,” Iguodala said with a smile. “I was hoping he would just throw it to me so I could lay it up.”
Iguodala said his hand hit the rim wrong, preventing him from throwing it down properly. It rattled around and popped out. He said he usually misses a dunk every year. He told of a dunk against the Lakers he missed last season, said he tried to cock it back to far and clanked it.
“Didn’t you get the rebound and put it back?” rookie guard Nemanja Nedovic asked. “Yeah, I remember that.”
AT LEAST WE LEARNED …
The Warriors can stay big sometimes. Bogut played 23 minutes the first three quarters and did a surprisingly good job closing out on Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia’s jumper-shooting big man. Hawes of 1 of 6 from the field, splitting his two 3-pointers, and didn’t hurt the Warriors.
It was expected that he would scarcely play and Lee would serve as the center, since he’s more nimble at covering the perimeter. But the Warriors didn’t have to abandon Bogut. That’s important because the Warriors play their best defense when he is on the court.
If that’s something the Warriors can do against other teams with shooting big men, that would be a big plus for Golden State. Though, it’s probably not recommended as a steady diet
KEY MOMENT II…
The Warriors’ second unit allowed the 76ers to cut the lead to 10, prompting Jackson to send the starters back in at the at the 8:31 mark. Philadelphia got as close as 43-37 before another monster run put them away.
Iguodala started it with a 3 and, after Michael Carter-Williams missed on a drive to the rim, Lee followed with a layup.
Once again, a Sixers timeout couldn’t stop the run. After MCW split a pair of free throws, Thompson dropped in a 3-pointer, putting the Warriors up 51-39. After the teams combined for seven turnovers in two minutes, Iguodala put the Warriors up 15 with a 3-pointer, followed by a fast-break layup from Lee.
Iguodala scored six straight — would’ve been eight had he made that dunk — and Lee capped a 23-5 run with a follow dunk. Golden State led 66-42 entering the half after holding Philly to 1 for 8 shooting with seven turnovers over the final 6:21 of the second quarter.
COACH’S CORNER …
* Mark Jackson wanted to go at Philadelphia from the beginning. The Sixers, as he said, will “outwork you.” So Jackson wanted to come out swinging. How did he do that? He started with Klay Thompson on MCW.
This is a break as usually Jackson allows Curry to start on the opposing point guard, and if he gets going or Curry gets fouls, he switches. But from the outset, Thompson was sent to smother MCW. He was never able to get going, Curry stayed out of foul trouble and was free to roam (getting 5 steals to help fuel the transition game). This was a smart aggressive decision by Jackson. He did the opposite against Chris Paul, and he got on a roll early against Curry. Wonder if that factored in.
* Jackson took a bit of a risk to get Curry his triple-double. He said he intentionally left Curry in to give it a chance to happen. Knowing he wouldn’t play the entire fourth quarter, he left his star point guard out there to with the reserves. He was getting ready to yank him when Curry corralled his 10th rebound.
“He’s that close, give him a chance,” Jackson said. “He’s done everything right for me, put me in a position to be a successful coach. It was a way of saying thank you. I wouldn’t have kept him in much longer, but he deserved.”
Of course, if Curry sprains his ankle, Jackson wouldn’t have heard the end of it. But I guess there is something to be said for NOT coaching to avoid injuries.
WHAT HE SAID …
“I give them credit. “They’re a very underrated defensive team. I learned that last year. They are a very good defensive team. They’re noted for their offense and they’re noted for their barrage of 3-point threats and scorers. But they actually are an excellent defensive team with all the pieces. The interior with Bogut, and I think David Lee is an improving defender, and they’ve got athletes like Klay and Andre that get after it. They put Stephen usually on an off guard and let Andre and Klay jump smaller point guards. I give them credit defensively, and do admit that we were sloppy. We were careless. Some of that was a result of their good defense.” —76ers coach Brett Brown
TRENDING TOPIC …
There was plenty of garbage time, with the Warriors up huge. Problem is, the Warriors reserved played like it was garbage time. Jackson was not happy about that.
“I don’t see (blowout wins) benefitting us much if our reserves play the way that they’ve played,” he said after the game. “I’ve been very disappointed in the way those guys have closed out ballgames. They’ve got an opportunity to play extended minutes and they haven’t made statements with their play. So I’m disappointed in that.”
The Warriors were up by as much as 39 and wound up winning by 20. All seven reserves played at least 4 minutes and combined they managed just 12 points on 4 of 17 shooting in the fourth quarter. They turned it over eight times, was outrebounded and committed six fouls that led to eight free throws.
The bench is and should be a concern. Warriors had better hope Harrison Barnes off the bench is a significant upgrade.
BEFORE YOU GO …
Stephen Curry had just two turnovers. He’d totaled 18 the previous 10 games.
“It feels good,” Curry said with a smile. “Tired of hearing that unacceptable word. That’s a strong word.”
Curry was referring to Jackson calling his lack of ball security unacceptable. (I asked Jackson on Tuesday his thoughts about Curry’s game a day later, he said: “It was acceptable” and broke into a smile).
Curry contends the fuss was unnecessary. He said he knows those were too many turnovers, but he viewed it as a temporary struggle and not a sign of a weakness. He is hoping his 12-assist, 2-turnover performance proved that. His way of saying “hush” to his critics.
“I shouldn’t have to say it. It’s the fourth game of the year. I’m obviously leading the league in turnovers right now. I’m not worried about it.”