The Warriors came into Sunday afternoon’s matchup against the Toronto Raptors having won five of their last six games, but with just one of those wins coming against a team with a winning record, the Raptors presented quite a challenge for the streaking Dubs.
Heading into the game on a hot stretch of its own, Toronto was 6-2 in its last eight, enough to give the Raptors a comfortable lead in the Atlantic division in the East. It was a clash between two streaking teams, and the game certainly lived up to its billing.
By the end of the first quarter, the score was tight, with the Dubs holding a 28-25 edge. But with the fluidity of the Warriors’ play and their impressive ball movement, the early signs of a successful offensive breakout were there, and that held true throughout the next two quarters.
Toronto shot 57 percent in the first quarter, a total buoyed by Jonas Valanciunas’ ability to make several very difficult shots over Andrew Bogut’s tough defense. But the Raptors still trailed by three thanks to the Warriors’ excellent ball movement—the Dubs had eight assists on their 12 first-quarter buckets, and they finished the game with 25 assists on their 37 field goals
The Dubs then started the second quarter on a roll, but Greivis Vasquez quickly took over. With Golden State leading 32-26 early in the quarter, the Raptors backup point guard scored 10 straight points on 4-of-4 shooting to give his team a two-point advantage.
From there, it was a back-and-forth contest for the rest of the game. Neither team was able to gain separation, with each team’s star (Steph Curry, DeMar DeRozan) matching each other throughout the game. (Steph finished with 34 points, DeRozan with 32)
The Raptors were also astonishingly efficient from the foul line: 20-of-23, including an 18-of-19 start. That allowed them to stay in the game, and then gave them the platform to pull away late.
Steve Blake hit a long three-pointer to close out the third quarter, breaking a 75-75 tie and giving the Warriors the edge going into the fourth. Unfortunately for Golden State, however, the momentum swing didn’t last long, as the Raptors went on an 11-0 run following a timeout with 8:49 left in the game.
Even so, the Dubs stayed in the game, and trailed by a manageable six points with 1:54 left. But Bogut’s turnover with 1:13 left sealed the game for the Raptors, who forced five Warriors turnovers in the final period while committing none of their own, which ultimately proved to be the difference in the game. The rest of the game was a free-throw shooting test for the Raptors, and they ultimately won by a score of 104-98.
Despite the loss, the Warriors came away with a few positives. Namely, Steph Curry provided his usual offensive firepower, going 13-of-27 from the floor for 34 points, though he did go just 4-of-11 on threes.
David Lee and Bogut also each had double-digit rebound totals, including seven offensive boards from Lee. However, it was ultimately the Warriors’ overall inefficiency (42 percent from the floor), that sunk them, especially on three pointers.
Indeed, the Warriors started just 1-of-6 on threes, and their inability to hit from downtown made it difficult to go on consistent runs throughout the game. Even so, despite a cold 7-of-21 performance from downtown, the Dubs showed they could still have a solid offensive showing even with an inefficient performance form beyond the arc.
Bogut also showed a surprising ability to stay out of foul trouble, committing zero personal fouls in Jermaine O’Neal’s absence. (Really, Warriors? A passport issue?). In short, the Dubs collapsed at the end of a close game, but they also demonstrated several promising signs upon which they can certainly build going forward.
Golden State will next travel to face the Indiana Pacers at 4 p.m. PST on Tuesday, Mar. 4.