Good to be back with the Warriors, if only for a game, subbing for Diamond, as he gets an early jump on the six-game road trip. It may be my last fill-in assignment for awhile, as by the time they get back from this trip, I’ll be off to spring training for 12 days. But I’ll get some GSW down the stretch, and hopefully in the playoffs as well.
There were so many things to ponder following Saturday night’s 93-86 win over Brooklyn (I managed to cover two Nets games without calling them “New Jersey”), I’m going to go “darting here and there” on the blog tonight, just a bunch of quick hits on things that merit mention.
–Kevin Garnett wants a blood transfusion from Jermaine O’Neal. Awesome Garnett quote after the game following O’Neal’s 23-point, 13-rebound performance: “I haven’t seen J.O. play like that since Indiana. I’m glad he found the Fountain of Youth.”
–Without question, O’Neal was fabulous, but to score like he did, he got a lot of great feeds down low from Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala and Steve Blake. I framed a question to O’Neal after the game in that context and he was understandably appreciative. He said many of his baskets came in the wake of setting screens, just going to an open spot, and guys finding him open. A few times during the game on plays he made, I told those sitting around me, “Toney Douglas doesn’t make that pass.”
–A lot of people will call Curry’s huge banked 3-pointer with 37.2 seconds left lucky. He didn’t, and I wouldn’t. As he noted, he had proper balance and a solid follow-through, and said his momentum was simply carrying him left when he let the shot fly. Great shooters make their own luck.
–The Warriors are 12 games over .500 for the first time this season. Just going .500 over the final 26 games would give them 47 wins. That might not be enough in the crazy Western Conference. But if they go 16-10, they win 50. That’s definitely doable.
–David Lee must have spent some time in the hospital, or perhaps just an emergency room, after missing the game with the stomach flu. He posted this Instagram photo after the Warriors’ win, congratulating O’Neal and Draymond Green on their big performances. He’s really sucking the fluid out of that I.V. http://instagram.com/p/kv26V1EwOZ/
–Even though he had trouble defending Deron Williams, Steve Blake’s second game as a Warrior was better than his first. He made a couple of big 3-pointers down the stretch, and also had five assists, including some timely feeds to both O’Neal and Green. If Blake’s efforts result in just three wins over the final 26, it could be the difference in making the playoffs and not. I would contend his effort against the Nets counts as the first.
–You wonder what Green could do if he played 30-35 minutes a game. He was a somewhat ugly 5 for 16 shooting, but he had 10 rebounds, 3 steals and was part of the key deflection in the final minute that salted the game away. He’s had issues at the free throw line this year, but went 8 for 10 on this night and in the final three minutes, 6 for 6. The guy’s just a winner, pure and simple.
–Marreese Speights didn’t play in the second half. If you saw the first half, you know why. Pretty much awful. Jordan Crawford wasn’t much better, going playground and shooting 2 for 10. The bench was outscored 30-15 in the game, and Harrison Barnes was also a non-factor save one monster dunk. Hopefully on this road trip he develops some rapport with Blake when the subs come in.
–In two games against the Warriors, Andray Blatche has looked something akin to an All-Star.
–Iguodala won’t get much run what with O’Neal and Green grabbing the spotlight, but he was pretty special on this night — eight points, eight assists, 11 rebounds, four steals. This is what the Warriors paid all those millions for, and he also played 44 minutes. If he plays like this down the stretch, 16-10 to get to 50 wins won’t be a problem.
–Green noted it was special getting this win against a team that has three future Hall of Famers in Paul Pierce, Garnett and Joe Johnson. He threw in “and maybe Kirilenko.” Sorry, Draymond. Maybe Deron Williams, but not Kirilenko.
–Curry, who went into the All-Star Break averaging more than four turnovers a game — worst in the NBA — has four turnovers in three games since the break — 0 against Sacto, 2 against Houston, 2 against the Nets. He said during the morning shootaround he’s analyzed where he’s making most of his turnovers — he’s trying not to make a play before it develops and he’s not leaving his feet when he passes. It seems to be working.
–You want to know why the Warriors want to move to San Francisco, you only had to be at the Coliseum grounds Saturday night. A monster truck jam was held at the stadium, and most of that one-time crowd arrived before the Warriors fans who show up every game. Hence, a lot of Warriors fans got shut out on parking spaces, and the lower bowl of the arena was filled with empties throughout the first half and it only got slightly better in the second half. So why couldn’t they have scheduled the truck jam for Friday night? If I’m Joe Lacob, I’m raising holy hell.
–Well, I could go on and on, as I am wont to do following an exciting, important win in any sport. And what the Warriors achieved Saturday night definitely was. Curry said afterward the Warriors simply can’t throw away any more home games, hence the Houston/New Jersey double was huge for the team’s position and confidence heading into this six-game trip. If they handle this upcoming six-gamer like the last seven-gamer (6-1), they’ll be in the clover for the playoffs. A 4-2 roadie would be great, 3-3 just fine. After this trip, the Warriors will have 13 home games left, just 7 on the road.
And speaking of the road, time to hit it. Pleasure serving you.