The Warriors nabbed their 10th road win of the season in stunning fashion with a convincing 21-point win over the Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers have won their past nine at home and were fresh off two spectacular wins over the Mavericks and Thunder, but they couldn’t stop the three-pronged attack of Ellis, Curry, and Lee. These three alone matched Portland’s total of the night with 87 and had them on their heels the entire contest.
It was a completely even game through the first half with the score tied at 19 and 47 at the end of quarters. Finally, the Warriors broke the game wide open in the third by shooting 12-15, nailing all nine free throws, and hitting 4-6 from deep. A truly impressive shooting performance given the length and size advantage Portland held over the scrappy Warriors.
With a 16-point lead going into the fourth, the Warriors held on for an easy win even squeezing in some time for the seldom-used Lin and Adrien. Amundson put in 27 minutes because Udoh again had foul, and rebounding, trouble. A surprising win, but the Warriors continue to put up a fight against quality playoff teams to improve over last year’s record.
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1st Star: David Lee
With 29 points and 20 rebounds, Lee notched his first 20-20 game of the season and against the formidable backcourt of Portland no less. More than that though, he was 13-17 from the field which really frustrated the opposition. Most teams would be content to let Monta go off, but with Lee in the mix the Blazers really had it rough. While he doesn’t deserve all the credit, Lee did his best to hold Aldridge to 17 points in 40 minutes.
2nd Star: Monta Ellis
Monta’s shot was hitting tonight, and when that happens the only thing you can do is sit back and watch. Monta is a true scoring guard in the way he contorts his body around the rim and fades at the elbow without a hand in his face. It’s almost a given Monta is going to get the shots he wants, it’s just a matter of hitting them. 30 points on 11-19 shooting going 4-6 from deep and 4-4 from the line.
3rd Star: Stephen Curry
Despite racking up 28 points and four assists, Curry actually turned in a pretty pedestrian performance. He shot well, even banking in a three, and took care of the ball, but he’s perfectly capable of doing this. The only aspect that stuck out in my mind is that he grabbed eight boards which was absolutely key in this win. The Blazers were cold from three, 3-21, and with all the long rebounds flying around, it was great to see Steph hustle after loose balls instead of waiting for his outlet pass. Strong effort, but nothing special.
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Low assists: As a team, Golden State only managed 16 assists on 41 buckets, which would normally worry me. Too much isolations or shot-creating will kill any team. Fortunately, the low total was a result of their discipline to not settle for decent looks and instead drive to hoop to draw contact. In the first half, the opening period especially, the Warriors had those looks and weren’t hitting. They changed it up a bit and looked to drive more, even Amundson got in on this, and they were rewarded by outshooting their opponent from the line for the second game in a row.
Ekpe Udoh: The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that Udoh could be the second coming of Camby, and that’s not an insult. He’s got a passable jumper, great shot blocking instincts, and a similar body type. Of course the two glaring issues is his inability to pass or rebound well like Camby. I suspect the passing can come with time since Camby was hardly one earlier in his career. As for rebounding, Udoh can learn a few lessons. Most notably, Camby uses his length to tip the ball either to himself or to his teammates. As one of the better offensive rebounders, he collapses on a shot late and goes up to simply tip the ball out, rather than snatch it with two hands.
Dorell Wright: He was cold, dang near frigid, again today, 2-11, which now makes him 22-71, 31%, over the last five games. On nights like these, I’d like to see him a bit more active on the glass even with Lee gobbling everything up.
Lou Amundson: Good work down low all night, but his biggest contribution of the night was going 7-9 from the stripe. That was good enough to raise his FT% from 31.9 to 37.2. He absolutely crushed his previous high of four FTs and while it may sound like I’m belittling him, I’m actually genuinely impressed. It’s amazing how being able to hit free throws can make you confident, almost competent, on offense. This may be an anomaly, but I’ll take it.
Defensive lapses: Defense wins championships because defense is much more consistent than the temperamental nature of offense. The Warriors seem to defy this logic because they had some horrendous lapses last and throughout the season. I have never really seen a team give up an open bucket under the hoop in the half court set, without a man close enough to challenge. And this happened twice. While they do gamble needlessly, they have proven they can play sound defense at stretches, but their inevitable collapses are a mystery to me. I’m not sure if it’s missed rotations and switches by one player, or just terrible communication. These plays epitomize what it means to play defense as a team and I hope the Warriors realize this.
High socks: Doesn’t Steph look faster in high socks? Yeah, maybe not.
Long and lanky: With the sizable advantage at each position, I was surprised none of the Blazers went off on the Warriors. Their help defense was strong, but I believe the Blazers ultimately shot themselves out of this one. Matthews is the only sane one who took six threes last night, as Batum, 1-6, and Fernandez, 0-6, both are average to below average three-point shooters.
Brandon Roy: He airballed a wide open 18-footer last night. Like Barnett said, he’s a shell of his former self. He really is.
The More You Know: Lee’s 20-20 night marked the fourth of his career, two of which have come against the Warriors. This may be his most impressive 20-20 game with it coming against one of the better rebounding teams in the league.
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Lakers are in town tonight and the Warriors are going to be dog-tired. They showed against Memphis that they can’t handle tough back-to-back matchups. The Lakers also played last night, but with a killer one-point loss against the Jazz, you can be sure the entire roster wants to take out their frustrations on the Warriors. Hopefully the bench will show up tonight, but even that may not be enough. I expect LA to jump out to an early lead, so we’ll see if the Warriors can respond. 105-100 W’s?
*Will post GameFlow when it becomes available