1) One of the Steve Kerr’s four core values for the Warriors, and perhaps the most important, is joy (mindfulness, compassion and competition are the others). Last night it was Brandon Rush that brought the joy to Oakland. Three years removed from a devastating ACL injury, the NBA journeyman had a scintillating throwback game, scoring 14 points in the third quarter (16 for the game) on four threes and a two-handed dunk. The entire bench stood and danced after the third three-pointer, and did it again when Rush hit a triple via the elevator doors play. Before the Rush explosion, it was a ho-hum 10-point game in which the Warriors looked a bit sluggish having played the night before. By the time BRush was subbed out, the lead had ballooned to 26 and all of Oracle was laughing and cheering. The entire tenor of the game changed in those seven emphatic Brandon Rush minutes. Joy.
2) Stephen Curry is shooting 46% on attempts between 25-29 feet, and 50% from 29-39 feet (not a typo) per NBA.com. When I watch Warriors games on opponent telecasts, sometimes the announcing crew will mention that Curry takes a lot of awful shots. But those shots aren’t awful because it’s Curry that takes them. The MVP is so accurate from 26+ feet, that opponent defenses have to come out farther on him, allowing the rest of the Warriors to play 4-on-4 or 4-on-3 in the remaining half-court. Even when Steph isn’t scoring, his presence alone creates ridiculous space for his teammates. Those 27-footers aren’t awful shots, their strategic ones.
3) Do you realize that George Karl has played Rajon Rondo 40 minutes or more eight times already this season? And do you realize Curry hasn’t had to play in four straight fourth quarters? When naysayers discount the Warriors success because of their good health, does Golden State’s calculated efforts to limit minutes and wear-and-tear factor into the thinking?
4) Rudy Gay the slasher and driver (20 points) is really good. Rudy Gay the long jump shooter (7-20 FG), not as much.
5) I thought Harrison Barnes absolutely made the right business move by not taking the Warriors reported 4 for 64 offer. Rudy Gay makes $19.32 million this season. I’d take HB over him right now, even without considering that Barnes is 6 years younger with emergent potential. The Falcon is going to get paid this summer given the exploding cap and dearth of quality free agents.
6) Draymond got another triple double, the first back-to-back TD for Golden State since Wilt Chamberlain. It feels like every other game another franchise record falls or gets matched.
7) Marco Bellinelli likes to take really long three-pointers (0-7). He must’ve had 3 or 4 from beyond 26 feet. Maybe he’s realized that after years in the Spurs pass pass pass system, on the Kings he’s unlikely to see the ball again after a pass and should just launch regardless of distance.
8) Rondo is quietly having a bounce back year. Coming into the game he had averages of 13 points, 7.5 rebounds and 11 assists. He is 8th among point guards in WAR, ahead of Chris Paul and Mike Conley. By all accounts, he’s hit the rejuvenation juice and is having a solid year, but I still hated the deal the Kings gave him because…
9) … although Sacramento had all the leverage this off-season, they somehow only got a one year deal with Rondo. So even if the mercurial point guard continues to play well, the Kings are going to lose him this summer to the highest bidder, or they’re going to have to give him a mega deal that they’ll probably end up regretting since the guy is playing on a rebuilt knee, will be in his 30s, and shoots 36% on free throws (not a typo). What other team was going to offer Rondo $10 million after his horrible Mavs experience? Why didn’t GM Vlade Divac add a one-year team option on the contract so they could keep him in case he played well? If Vlade wasn’t going secure Rondo long-term, then why not draft Emmanuel Mudiay with the 6th pick and have him learn under the former All-star? Thinking about this makes my brain hurt. Willie Cauley-Stein did have 3 points in 20 minutes, so there’s that.
10) The Oracle crowd gave love to Seth Curry (9 points, 3-3 threes). The Warriors are so good right now that fans don’t even mind rooting for opponents to do well. What’s the difference between a 30-point win and a 19-point win? It’s more fun to find joy, especially if it’s a familiar adversary.