By: Patrick Lo
A much needed dub for the dubs. The Warriors snapped their four-game losing streak in typical nail-biting fashion with a four-point win over the Wizards. They were 7-2 heading into the All-Star break, but have been winless since. Both teams pushed the pace(174 shots and 70 FT’s), but their offensive game plans couldn’t have been more different. The Warriors moved the ball, took open 3s, and attacked the basket while the other W’s were content to take contested jumper after contested jumper. Headlining the night was Ekpe Udoh getting the first NBA start of his young career.
The referees were liberal with the whistle tonight, but at least they were consistent. Late in the 3rd, Ellis picked up 3 fouls in 3 minutes, relegating him to the bench with 4 fouls. Although the Warriors kept churning, eventually ending the quarter with a 17-point advantage, the fouls were foolish. Save for his size, Ellis can be a great perimeter defender if he stopped going for the sexy steal. Blessed with quick hands, Ellis simply cannot resist sharing it with the world. Good positioning begets good defense, not steals.
Rebounding was the real story of the night, though. K-Smart(can I say that?) has always stressed rebounding as a key aspect of the Warriors defense and it showed tonight. Credit Golden State’s active bodies for playing the passing lanes and boxing out. Up 3 with 24 seconds left, Wright missed a game-sealing 3, only to have Lee fight and wrestle for the game-winning rebound.
1st Star: Stephen Curry
Curry was his normally efficient self with 29 points on 9-18 shooting. He was also super active on the glass collecting 9 rebounds, many of which came from loose balls. He also forced the Wizards to hit another tough three(after Young’s improbable shot) by nailing a pair of free throws with 6 seconds left to put the Warriors up 105-102. Excellent execution and effort throughout to help the Warriors hang on at the end.
2nd Star: David Lee
9 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists pretty much tell the story here. Lee wasn’t looking for his shot much, instead looking to fit within the flow of the offense. He epitomized the team’s effort tonight with his rebound and assist total. Stayed active on the glass, made smart passes, solid showing.
3rd Star: Monta Ellis
Almost left him off, but his zero turnovers jumped out to me in the box scores. He didn’t settle for too many elbow jumpers, which we all know can completely stagnate the offense. 21 points on 9-20 shooting with 4 assists.
Honorary mention: Ekpe Udoh
Not the statistical impact you’d hope for in his starting debut, but his presence was felt on the defensive end. He blocked 3 shots, but challenged many more and was a big reason why Washington shied away from the rim.
Easy misses: Like any good pessimist, I’m always the first to expect the sort of meltdown the Warriors seemed to have tonight. Although they did give up a 17-point 4th quarter lead it wasn’t a worrying sign. For some reason the Warriors simply could not convert on easy looks around the rim. Combined with big back-to-back 3s by Young and you have yourself a comeback.
Ramping up the intensity: A third point, to the one above, is GSW’s failure to pick up their intensity as they close out the game. Washington suddenly started caring on defense and picked off lazy passes and forced shot clock violations. On one violation, Curry walked the ball up, directed a few teammates, and eventually just airballed a long 3 with 5 seconds left. Not the model of offensive efficiency. I realize I’m contradicting myself here, but I feel this is a minor point the Warriors can easily fix. Certainly no base-covering here.
Big man mishaps: The Warriors have all the offensive talents they could hope for from Ellis and Curry’s inside, outside, mid-range game complete with pinpoint passing. However, much of these talents, and the rest of the team’s, goes to waste on the Warriors’ pivots. Both Udoh and Biedrins botched easy dunks or lay-ins with their offensive ineptitude. Golden State has good ball movement, but it could be great with a competent player at center. Perhaps Udoh can become what Biedrins could not.
Reggie Williams: We need more “Reg-gie!” chants at Oracle because he can spark the offense of a fairly lackluster bench.
Vlad Rad: Radmanovic played limited minutes tonight, but keyed a big 17-4 run in the 2nd. He hit open 3s and boxed out like a beast, helping the Warriors to a 54-40 rebounding edge.
Nick Young: Going into the game I was already dreading the moment he would get hot. Good shooter, poor shot selection.
Runner-up ROY: Not impressed at all with his performance tonight. I realize he wants to establish himself as the playmaker for the Washington, but 10 attempts for Wall and 24 for Young just isn’t stuff playoffs are made of.
McGee: Where’d he go? Only 18 minutes with 1 foul when the Wizards could’ve used a crazy man inside to disrupt all the lane driving.
Pump Fakes: Both teams were pump-faking a lot, and everyone seemed to be falling for them. Warriors did a great job of passing up open shots and gunning for the rim.