A fairly even contest throughout that saw both teams clicking offensively and disinterested defensively. Not a surprising performance given the personnel, but it’s nice to see a full 48 minutes of consistency on one end. The Warriors know they’re better than the rebuilding projects of the league, and good on them for acting like it. With playoff hopes dashed, the Warriors never let this one slip away. After taking the lead to start the second half, the Warriors never trailed the rest of the way. The Wizards came within three about halfway through the fourth quarter, but Golden State managed to pull away to end up with a 10-point win.
Big, big nights from the top two earners of the team, Ellis and Lee. Monta had 25 points and six assists with zero turnovers in the first half. With him handling the ball as much as he was and playing the full 24, eventually the whole game, it was no easy feat. Lee got a lot of looks, 26 shots, with Curry sitting from foul trouble and managed to convert 14 of them. Monta deserved about half the credit for Lee’s 33 and 12 night by constantly drawing attention and dishing it out for easy lay-ins around the basket.
Not to be outdone, JaVale McGee had a career game posting a new high with 28 points and tying an old one with 18 rebounds. He also had five swats to terrorize the Warriors on both sides of the ball. By half he already had 22 and 11, on only 8 shots. For a center to average nearly three points per shot is ridiculous and for McGee, who has a 63.3% FT for his career, to convert 8-9 from the line is downright insane. With only six points for the rest of the game, it was more of McGee’s uneven effort than the Warriors’ defensive activity. The Wizards stopped feeding him the ball, and he stopped crashing it fearlessly.
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1st Star: Monta Ellis
Monta was only three rebounds short of his first career triple-double, finishing with 37 points, seven rebounds, 13 assists, and, interestingly, zero steals. He had the Wizards constantly on edge with his nasty spin move both on the ground and in the air. More than that though, his playmaking ability was on full display, albeit against a weak defensive squad. Seven of his assists came around the rim, with Lee often being the beneficiary. Bob and Jim both praised the timing on his passing which reveals what great instincts Monta has.
2nd Star: David Lee
While Monta did spoon-fed Lee all night, he still managed to do plenty of other things to earn the second spot. In addition to his 33 points and 12 rebounds, he garnered five assists, three steals, and two blocks. Working alongside Udoh for much of the night, the frontcourt actually seemed intimidating in its own right. However, the most impressive numbers, or absence of numbers, was zero turnovers and zero fouls in 44 minutes. A quick look at 30, 10, 0, 0 nights from basketball-reference.com shows only seven other instances in the last 25 years. Lee’s may even be the best line of the bunch.
3rd Star: Ekpe Udoh
I’ll give Udoh the nod over Wright, 19 points on 14 shots, because he had his hands full the entire contest. McGee may not be the most skilled player, but he’s still an athletic marvel. Also, with McGee’s freakishly long arms Udoh’s length became irrelevant. He only had four points and seven rebounds with a steal and three blocked shots, but his first-half foul trouble disrupted his entire rhythm. Still, he kept his cool when calls weren’t going his way and still managed to scrap together a halfway decent night for someone who struggles with confidence and rebounding issues. I’m excited to see what he’ll bring next year if he improves his handwork to help him rebound and receive hand-offs for some, hopefully, vicious dunks.
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Foul fouls: Both Curry and Udoh had their minutes limited by foul trouble, but while Udoh was preventing easy baskets Curry was suffering from a case of the reach-ins. I’m not sure if he’s been hanging out with Monta too much, but unless your team is down 4 points with 30 seconds left, reaching in for the steal is just bad defense. On top of that, every time he got whistled for a reach, he starts moping like he can’t catch a break. Slapping the ball doesn’t immediately absolve you of a foul. Steph is a professional basketball player, he needs to stop whining about every call or else he’ll lose his credibility from the refs.
Dorell Wright: I’d love to see a 3-point contest between him and Curry. 5-11 from long, and 39.5% on the year.
McGee: Seven-footers like McGee show exactly why the Warriors are going to need either a massive upgrade or a massive improvement at the pivot. They can’t allow a player who averages 9.8 points and 8.1 rebounds to triple his scoring and double his rebounding. Especially with someone of McGee’s rawness, it’s downright nauseating. As we’ve seen with Biedrins, progress is not guaranteed, so if none of the big men step up, we’re going to see another disappointment in 2012.
John Wall: Wall has elite speed, but the Warriors, Curry especially, did a great job of containing him. By not allowing him to get out on the fast break, they forced the Wizards to play more half-court sets which isn’t where Wall excels. He still has a weak jumper and as such opposing teams can give him the Rondo treatment. He can still get hot, but it’s nowhere near the average franchise point guard. His passing was impressive, 12 assists, but his scoring mentality can sometimes blind him to an open player on the wing.
The More You Know: With 25 points in the first half Monta notched his 19th 20-point half which continues to lead the league.
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The Warriors visit Oklahoma City (come back Thunder!) on Tuesday which will be an immensely tough match up. The Thunder are 6-1 with Perkins and just last night did he finally 30 minutes. The Thunder have an advantage at almost every position which means the coaching staff will need to devise a clever game plan to create mismatches and disrupt OKC’s smooth offense. With capable shot blockers inside and pests on the perimeter, the Warriors are going to have a tough time putting up points. They’ll need to rely on their outside shot and trips to the foul line to win this one. 107-106!