By: Jesse Taylor
The most important game in a playoff series is usually the current one.
Down 0-1 to the Denver Nuggets, this current Game 2 for the Warriors is pretty much do or die. Win and they have new life going back home. Lose and the series is likely over.
For such a critical contest, I decided to transcribe a running commentary of my thoughts throughout the game, hoping that it doesn’t end with my laptop being thrown into my TV.
5:00 p.m. – I’m nervous about this game starting already. Time seems to be moving at a snail’s pace.
6:00 p.m. – Is it 7:30 yet?
7:02 p.m. – CSN Bay Area announces some not-so-shocking news that Carl Landry will start in place of injured David Lee. Let the pump fake party begin.
7:03 p.m. – Mitch Richmond doing the CSN pregame show and I’m rockin’ The Rock #23 throwback. Good sign?
7:04 p.m. – Garry St. Jean says he loves small ball. I believe he was once forced to field a starting five of Mookie Blaylock, Vonteego Cummings, Sam Jacobson, Antawn Jamison and Donyell Marshall. Guessing he didn’t like that version of small ball.
7:05 p.m. – Bob Fitzgerald basically says losing David Lee is like the combined impact of the Bulls losing Michael Jordan and the Heat losing LeBron James. “No Fitz slander, no Fitz slander, no Fitz slander…” Will be turning to TNT at game time.
This tweet from Brian Murphy regarding syncing radio broadcast to the TV broadcast is interesting. But I’m not trying all this for a playoff game. Maybe next season:
You have to run it thru your iPad. It’s a minute behind, and you pause TV, then sync.
7:30 p.m. – Heat and now the Knicks both dominate. How nice would it be for the Warriors to get a non-stressful blowout win too?
7:41 p.m. – Almost ready for tip-off. Last time I felt this nervous before a Warriors game may have been back in the old Run TMC playoff games against the Suns and Sonics.
7:46 p.m. – TNT coverage begins. Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller on the call with Marty Snider.
No Faried to start and TNT announces that the Warriors are going small with Jarrett Jack replacing Lee and Barnes moving to four spot. No Carl. Less pump fakes for our party.
Klay Thompson opens with two big shots – Denver 5, Klay 5.
An opposite start to this game compared to Game 1. Both teams are shooting well. The playoff jitters are gone. Denver opens 5-6 FG and Warriors start 4-4 FG with Klay tallying the first seven points.
Reggie Miller keeps talking, but my brain has made an outstanding choice and is tuning him out. I honestly have no idea what he is saying.
Wilson Chandler loves to aggressively drive the lane. He does it again and dunks on Andrew Bogut, who, like all great shot blockers, could give two shits if he gets dunked on. I love that.
Warriors up 19-18 with 3:51 in first quarter. So far, I’m too stressed to be creative with my commentary. I’ve used a cliché (“give two shits”) and I have no idea how it relates to its metaphorical meaning. How do you give two shits and what does it have to do with not caring?
The Nuggets open the game taking advantage of the lack of height in the Warriors starting five. Especially Andre Iguodala. He has 12 and gives Denver a 22-20 lead with 3:09 left in the first.
I’ll take the Warriors being down only two (26-28) after another lackluster start for Curry, who has just two points at the end of the first quarter.
Jackson starts with Curry, Richard Jefferson, Draymond Green, Carl Landry and Festus Ezeli. Umm, what?
I am calling this lineup the Jackson 5. Steph Curry is obviously Michael. Draymond has to be Tito. You can mix and match the other three. It doesn’t matter.
And Tito answers with a three. Then RJ hits one.
The second quarter is one of the best quarters of basketball I’ve seen all season. The main reason is a now-hot Curry. He hits an array of mid-range jumpers before finally hitting his first 3-ball.
Then he makes a layup and another jumper to put the Warriors up by 11. Jack starts doing some frustrating Jarrett Jack things, which usually have to do with not passing the ball when he should, and the Warriors go into the half with an 8-point lead.
I see one of those Feeding America commercials and wonder if Matt Damon or Aaron Eckhart can play the role of Jack in the second half.
Speaking of commercials, this new Will Smith/M. Knight Shyamalan movie has got to be awful, right? Will is usually very good with his movie choices, but let’s check the trend of Shyamalan-directed films.
- The Sixth Sense
- The Village
- Lady in the Water
- The Happening
- The Last Airbender
Not only is that the order in which the films were made, it’s also the order from good to bad. Those last four were some of the worst movies of the last 25 years. Not a good trend for Will Smith and “After Earth.”
I heard Shaq nicknamed Curry, Jack and Klay “Run JCT.” Yeah, that’ll stick.
The Warriors open the half with an awesome shooting barrage and take a 15-point lead at 69-54. But then they cool off. Denver cuts it to 10, and then both teams are cold for a while. 76-65 with 5:48 in the third.
Faried checks in 3:39 in third. Has been a nonfactor so far. His injury definitely has a bigger impact on Denver than Lee’s does on Golden State.
Curry keeps shooting and has 27 late in the third. Such a beautiful shooting display happening between Curry and Klay.
Out of nowhere, Anthony Randolph acts likes he’s taking over the game with some help from the refs. My son shouts, “Who is Anthony Randolph! I have never even seen him in my whole life.” I wish I hadn’t either.
Of note in the third: The Warriors are playing with a lot of scrappiness and activity. There’s an edge there and it looks like they want to win this game (and hopefully the series) more than the Nuggets.
At the 2:26 mark of the third quarter every Warriors fan’s stomach drops like they are on Disney’s Tower of Terror ride. Curry tweaks his left ankle. He tries running it off, but it gimping badly. He leaves the game. The Warriors lead 87-74. Let’s see how this impact the game.
Randolph stays annoying and gets more free throws.
You always hear how smart Draymond Green is. Here’s a great example why. Battling for an offensive rebound underneath the basket, Green comes away with the ball and quickly fires it out to an open Klay at the 3-point line. Klay drills it for a 92-77 lead. Great presence of mind to see one of the world’s greatest shooter open while fighting another player for the ball. And also selfless enough to pass up a tough put-back for an open teammate.
Warriors go up 16 at the end of the third quarter after a great fast break pass from Klay to Barnes for a dunk. Uh-oh. Nugget fans boo birds start to come out.
Curry back in to start fourth. He hits a three for a 99-85 lead and we’re riding Peter Pan now instead of Tower of Terror.
What just happened?! Give me all the OMGs. Add some OMFGs in there while you’re at it. Barnes just told my son, “You’re right. You don’t know Anthony Randolph. Because he doesn’t exist. I just killed him.”
Death by ridiculous drive-by reverse rim-ripping dunk on your head. Good night Nuggets. Good night Randolph. Again – ridiculous.
That reminds me. Do you know how good Harrison Barnes can be? You do? Cool. Me too. Let’s hope it happens.
What I said about Barnes? Almost the same thing with Klay. An amazing shooter. Strong defender. Confidence like the Dos Equis man, but without the interesting part. Unless hanging out in a basketball gym all day is interesting to you. I’m really looking forward to the best-case scenario Curry-Barnes-Klay trio next season and for years to come.
On this night, Curry finished with 30 points and 13 assists. Barnes gets 24 and six rebounds. Klay gets his 21 on 5-6 3-point shooting and 8-11 overall.
Jack settles things down and plays a solid fourth quarter to help the Warriors maintain their lead. He connects on a driving layup to make it 122-107 with 3:40 left.
Barnes soars in for a game-clinching defensive rebound that was very aggressive and very cool. This game could be a big moment for him. But more important than this game will be how Barnes responds in Game 3. During the regular season, he had huge games now and then, but could never produce at that level consistently. If he does continue to play this way, we’ll always remember this game as the night Harrison Barnes put it all together.
Three blowout games today. So glad the Warriors were on the right side of theirs.
Buzzer sounds. 131-117. Leaving the floor, Bogut and Jack are signaling their teammates to just walk off the court. No celebration. Act like you’ve been there. Play it cool.
And that was cool. Sometimes basketball is as simple as, “This is fun.” And this game was fun.
Even Curry had jokes for his ankle, saying his left one was jealous of all the attention the oft-injured right one gets.
Two ankles walk into a bar …