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Game 32 rewind: Warriors pick up their defense in the second half and open long trip with win

First a little programming note: I will not be at today’s Warriors practice in Orlando. The Dubs practice at 12:15 p.m. (9:15 a.m. Pacific) and my morning flight from Cleveland to Orlando has been cancelled. I won’t make it to Orlando until the late afternoon at the earliest. So hopefully nothing groundbreaking comes out of that central Florida work out today.

Let’s rewind to last night. That first half was ugly for the Warriors, with the notable except being the hot-shooting of Stephen Curry. He was on fire, scoring 24 of his 29 points on 8 of 11 shooting, including 5 of 5 from beyond the arc. But everything else didn’t look good.

David Lee had goose eggs (0 points, 0 rebounds in 10 minutes of foul-plagued action) and the Cavs had 64 points. As Draymond Green said, “You can’t give up 64 points to anyone … any team.”

Coach Mark Jackson preaches that his team wins with defense and that style of basketball “travels,” meaning they shouldn’t be affected too much by playing on the road. That theory was looking like it might get tested. And let’s be honest, a loss to Cleveland to open this seven-game road trip would’ve been a huge step back.

But the defense showed up in the second half.

“We knew we had to come out and play more physical and turn the defensive intensity up in the second half and we were able to do that,” Green said.

Draymond had a fabulous game. He only scored five points, but both buckets gave the Warriors the lead and he had career highs of 12 rebounds and four blocks. Green, Harrison Barnes and Mo Speights are giving the Warriors some solid production off the bench finally. As Green pointed out, they are finally settling into their bench roles. Injuries had forced different guys into the starting lineup and limited the Warriors depth, but with the starting five all healthy, they are in a position for those three key bench guys to develop and get used to their roles. That seems to be happening.

The Warriors know that this is a part of their schedule to fatten up their record. It may be a grueling seven-game trip, but it comes against the Eastern Conference where wins are to be had. Cleveland is now 10-20, Orlando is also 10-20 and so is Brooklyn, the team they close the trip with. They’ll also face Milwaukee, the NBA”s worst team at 6-24.

Yes, the games with Miami (23-7), Atlanta (17-14) and even possibly Washington (13-14) will be tough, but a 5-2 or 6-1 road trip isn’t out of the question. With the winning streak at five games, it would be a nice time to get on a roll.

Green might’ve said it best: :The games you’re supposed to win, you have to win. We felt this was a game we’re supposed to win so it’s key for us to come in and get a win. It wasn’t quite in the fashion we wanted to do it, but one thing we’ve talked about is showing some resolve when things aren’t going our way, continue to fight and don’t let go of the rope.”

Now if I can just find my way to Orlando we’ll see if the Warriors can get their sixth straight victory.

 

Jimmy Durkin

I cover mostly San Jose State football for the San Jose Mercury News/Bay Area News Group, but also fill in from time to time with the 49ers, Warriors, A's and Giants.

  • Commish

    Hey Jimmy, this is basically the same writeup as the story you filed with the CC Times. There is no analysis. What are your thoughts about the game? Watching it I had to only WISH Jim Barnett was coaching the team. He was basically begging Coach Jackson to foul K Irving before he got his three to force the game into overtime. Jackson said he told Klay to foul but I don’t know if I buy it. Maybe he did. If so why would Klay not foul? We should routinely beat the Cavs. While these heroic comebacks are exciting to watch, it is clear we have to be a lot more consistent. Sign my petition to not extend Jackson until he shows he can bring more consistency.

  • Andalus

    “Sign my petition” LOL.

  • qtlaw88

    Man how hard is it to find a backup guard, any guard? I think Lacob, Myers and the rest of the front office have done a tremendous job, but Toney Douglas was the best available? How nice would it be to at least have an Earl Watson? a Bellinelli?

  • qtlaw88

    Hearing Klay now apologize for not fouling makes me suspect that he took it as a personal challenge to deny Irving even if he was told to foul. Looked bad and could have cost the Ws a game but I’m thinking that Klay was being aggressive and that’s not such a bad thing.

  • Howard Benner

    On a positive side Steps is asserting himself as the team leader, the requisite role for the best play & point guard. . .

    On a bad note; this team still has that un nerving habit of playing down to the level of their competition & not bringing the energy @ the start of games. Listening to Lee’s quotes just echoes the sentiment I still feel; this team feels sorry for themselves when things don’t go their way (see especially Lee, David. . .). . .the fortitude to fight back is fine but see the Spurs or OKC; they bring the intensity & force their opposition to match their level of play. . .they are unrelenting. . .they play with pride, passion & poise. . .

    Lee should take a page from ‘Dre Igudola’s playbook; find a way to get it done. . .when he feels he’s not seeing the ball or is thwarted @ the rim he heeds to “step it up” on the defensive end. Use some of then newfound “athleticism” in forcing his opposite number to give the ball up, take a bad shot &, please, box out consistently! If he played with the passion Draymont Green brings, ignoring his offensive game to perform defensively, & perform admirably in “clutch” time this team could penetrate the top five in the conference.

    Looking @ the standings & the level of play the potential playoff teams I think the W’s will be the fifth seeded team in the west. houston definitely has a problem; harden might have Lisinfranc situation with his foot. . .I’ve seen him, particularly in the second game of back to backs & he lacks the explosiveness he regularly brings. . .since he is the lynchpin of this team this doesn’t bode well. . .Howard is improved but his pouty attitude will sink this team. . .their point guards are both injured, so there’s that bit of adversity to overcome. . .

    Phoenix will “bring it” defensively every night but I think they lack the offensive ammunition to stay with the “pack.”

    If Portland can continue to play @ a high level, they are for real. Their short bench might do them in. . .they need another inside scorer & neither Robinson or Leonard are that guy. When Lopez is in the game they are effectively going 4 on 5 on the offensive end. . .

    I expect Doc Rivers & his constant badgering & cajoling to bring the Clips level of play up to his standards & not the other way around. Memphis, withi their injuries & Denver, without Galarani are both train wrecks. . .that leaves OKC, San Antonio & the aforementioned Clips & Portland to contend with. . .therefore, number 5 with a bullet & a chance @ the #4 seed. . .if they can pull their collective head out. . .

  • Howard Benner

    If they weren’t worried about the luxury tax threshold they would entertain the possibility of obtaining Kyle Lowry from the Raptors. They are asking for a lot in return, but he is in the last year of his current deal. . .but he is tough, recognizes his role & can play with any combo the W’s have. . .

  • Howard Benner

    All this speculation whether the W’s go 5-2 or 6-1 on this road trip needs to be put on the back burner. On another stove. Far away.

    They play @ Orlando tonight, who beat the W’s like a drum last year. let’s see how they respond tonight. Will they be left in the starting gate once again, requiring Draymont Green to administer mouth to mouth? Jumper cables to jump start the W’s sputtering engine? Or do they heed the urgency to quiet the home crowd? Will they be able to control the boards, unlike last year when the Magic owned the glass?

    Yes, Andrew Bogut is as close to 100% as he has been in years, but let’s see how this one develops before comparing apples to oranges. . .let’s see how the W’s play, particularly early on.

    Their fate tomorrow against Miami is tied to putting the pedal to the metal against the Magic, dissipating their will to win & resting their charges for a game the Heat will certainly want to win in the aftermath of the W’s victory on the Heat’s home court last year. That’s how Lebron & his team roll. . .pride!