On Kobe Bryant night, the Golden State Warriors lacked any type of energy, cohesiveness, and the urgency that the great Black Mamba played with on an every night basis. However, on the statistical standpoint, Kevin Durant shot 10-29 from the field, struggling mightily from nearly all facets of the game, before taking over in its entirety throughout overtime, drilling dagger after dagger repeatedly against the likes of Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball. Peak Kobe. And in another overtime “thriller”, the Warriors squeaked out a 116-114 to keep one of the most lackadaisical 9-game winning streaks you will ever see in NBA history.
Perhaps that’s the way to describe the Warriors the last few games. Their defense has been phenomenal. Hell, they’re close to being ranked first in both offensive and defensive efficiency at this point nearly a third into the NBA regular season. But something is still missing. There has been no extended run that kills even the threat of hope in the opponents. The sustainability on either end remains something of a flash rather than a product of execution. It’s coasting from a group of veterans combined with the younger players hitting the dog days of December.
Despite the struggles, at least aesthetically, the Warriors are still grinding their way through everyone in sight. They get the Memphis Grizzlies, Lakers again, then the Denver Nuggets before the Cleveland Cavaliers. This could easily stretch to 12, then if Stephen Curry returns on Christmas (which I doubt), then the record now at 24-6 becomes much more interesting. And a season where Warriors fans are craving any type of fantastical storyline gets a jolt through the membrane.
1. Given that the game itself was boring, turnover-filled, and choppy at best in pace, I decided to just go with overall thoughts instead of recapping what happened. You don’t want to know what happened if you didn’t watch it.
2.Patrick McCaw has been dreadful in the last few games he’s been back from the concussion. Perhaps it’s still the ill effects but the constant overthinking when he’s cutting, or shooting open shots, or even handling the ball, has been tough to watch. Given that the Warriors had multiple ballplayers out last night, it was discouraging to see him still play without confidence or force. Keep in mind he did struggle in the beginning of the season before turning it on a few weeks ago.
3. Kevon Looney has extremely soft hands. And even though I joked about his issues finishing in public in the first half, he rebounded by catching everything in sight and scoring 8 points in a ragged 3rd quarter.
4. David West’s block on Lonzo Ball was a combination of his basketball IQ, baiting Lonzo into that layup, and veteran athleticism, not overextending or moving too far to get to the bucket. He’s been the best center on the team. Still.
5. Omri Casspi is the best backcutter in NBA history, apparently. Just watch him move without the ball, purposefully, and especially after he passes it away. He times it to the point where he knows he can finish without taking an extra step. That’s a feel a lot of people in the world simply don’t possess.
6. Jordan Bell had a two-play sequence in OT that sent shudders down my spine. He was strong enough and quick enough on defense to stay in front and body Julius Randle into a miss at the rim. Then on the other end, he was able to anticipate and make a pass to an Andre Iguodala streaking down the paint after setting a backcut. Rookie centers are simply not supposed to do that.
7. Come back soon, Stephen Curry.