Warriors: Week In Review, February 11-18, 2018
(originally written 3/1/18)
122-81 win at Phoenix 2/12
127-121 loss at Portland 2/14
An abbreviated week, but we'll just pretend it wasn't.
Golden State rolled into the week on a modest two-game win streak, which should not even be worthy of mention for a club like this—especially considering both of their victims were missing top players (Dallas minus Harrison Barnes, San Antonio minus Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker).
Describing a 43-13 team as "scuffling" is like describing Gisele Bundchen as "aging"—exactly zero sympathy points earned. Phoenix, Brooklyn, Chicago and several others would love to be "scuffling" as the Warriors are. But lately, the Dubs' road hadn't been as smooth as their impressive record may suggest.
Their depth has been affected by the absences of Jordan Bell (ankle injury) and now Pat McCaw (demoted to G-League by request). Always-volatile Draymond Green is going out of his way to earn technical fouls, and got tossed from the 2/7 Oklahoma City game, as you may have heard if you're...alive. As a whole, Golden State has been starting games 12 minutes later than many of their recent opponents—all those big deficits the team erased earlier this year seems to be hurting them now; they're playing like 28-to-4 bursts can be triggered at will and repeatedly being proven wrong.
The Warriors' porous first quarter play led announcer Bob Fitzgerald to sarcastically bellow "AND THE SUNS HAVE THE LEAD!" when they went up 2-0 on GS. They temporarily righted themselves in that game—winning by 46—but collapsed at Portland two nights later (40-27 1Q, and it took an epic flurry by Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry in the final few seconds to make it that close; details later.)
At 8:30 2Q, when Shabazz Napier clanked a 3 off the glass—leading to a transition score by G Shaun Livingston—Golden State was within eight and I thought for certain the comeback muscles were flexed. The team did manage a couple of ties, but was never able to take the lead back from Portland.
In a way, it's good that the Warriors got 50 from Durant and still lost—if he'd bailed them out of such a substandard performance (Green excepted), they might just submit a similar performance in the near future.
STANDOUT SWAT: Durant, with his back almost totally turned, rejected the putback dunk attempt of Portland's Ed Davis with about 1:10 left in the 3Q. (While that stood out, Green was a modern-day Shawn Bradley in that same game, stuffing four Blazer attempts—one of which may or may not have been a Nurkic dunk attempt in the 4Q.)
TOP STOPS: After much consideration, I couldn't whittle the choices down to just one; these three plays left me physically reacting:
⦁ Thompson smothers Phoenix G Troy Daniels into an up-and-down travel 27 feet from the hoop (9:50 2Q),
⦁ On the Suns' final first-half possession, Warrior F Kevon Looney—on a switch—put it to T.J. Warren by first rejecting his floater, then forcing him into a desperation fadeaway airball as the shot clock drained, and
⦁ Green—who was a defensive star all night, even against the massive Nurkic—latched onto Portland's Evan Turner like it was personal, forcing the veteran forward into a heave that smashed off the board early in the 4Q. (What happened immediately after that isn't important.)
C'MON, REF: Durant's awesome elevating block of an Elfrid Payton layup was ruled a goaltend (:34 1Q, PHO)...22 seconds after entering, Portland's Turner was allowed to walk before sinking a J late in the 1Q.
On the other hand, JaVale McGee received FT's even though Suns F Marquese Chriss' block looked clean (1:35 1Q, PHO). And in the Portland game, Green made like a defensive back, knocking down an unidentified Trail Blazer as he broke up Turner's crosscourt pass with about 8:30 left in the 2Q. (After that gift, Green had the audacity to argue at length over being bulled by Nurkic a few minutes later. Memories are short in pro sports.)
Plus, Nurkic's 3rd foul was a phantom one that gave Green a 3-point play and helped put him on the bench not long after, so I'd say GS got the better end of the zebra whistles this week.
⦁ Payton—the same Payton who, as a guard, once airballed consecutive FT's while with Orlando—started 9-of-9 on FG, including many J's; he had 16 points before Curry had any.
⦁ Phoenix is winless in its past 12 at Oracle Arena.
⦁ The 46-point win is only Golden State's second-highest of the season; remember the 49-point demolition of Chicago 11/24?
⦁ Phoenix shot 3-of-23 (13%) from distance, a season-worst for Warrior opponents.
⦁ Though it should be noted Zaza played just the first six minutes, Nurkic's five OR were one less than the whole GS starting lineup. Only once this year has Nurkic had more (seven vs. the Clippers 1/30)
⦁ Lillard was 12-12 at the line. It's the eighth time this season he's made 10+ FT without a miss.
BEST DUB SUB: F David West. Versus Phoenix, he forced multiple 3Q jumpers to go awry, slipped a nice bounce pass to the cutting Omri Casspi for a layup, sank one of his trademark elbow J's as well as a running hook, and lasted eight minutes of 4Q garbage time at 102 years old.
Versus Portland, he added a J, a tip in, and took the lumbering Nurkic to the hole; of the 12 Warriors who played West was one of only three in the plus-column.
GRINWORTHY: The aforementioned Daniels up-and-down...Chandler's egregious travel (5:30 2Q, PHO)...Tyler Collins awesome double-dribble (11:00 2Q, POR)...Portland ignoring Green on an inbound, watching him bury the 3, and receiving a mouthful of insulted profanity (2:00 3Q, POR)
THE FLURRY: Referenced above: Durant hit two FT + a basket following a flagrant foul, then Stephen Curry stole the ensuing inbounds and laid it in as the 1Q horn sounded—did you flash back to Game 1 of last year's WCF, too?
BENCHWARMING (PHO): Loved Zaza charging downcourt for a layup after a made free throw as Chandler (who otherwise was very effective defensively for the Suns) jogged upcourt (10:01 3Q Suns)...Pat McCaw came off the bench aggressively in the 2Q; one of his three hoops was a crossover shake of Suns G Josh Jackson near the foul line, followed by a J...it's been a while since I've seen a defender's feet rooted to the floor as strongly as Suns F Dragan Bender, frozen by Curry's dribbles preceding a long J in the 3Q.
BENCHWARMING (POR): ...Green played some mean D against Nurkic; every time Nurkic tried backing Green down, it took work to budge him even slightly despite being roughly two feet and 200 pounds larger...Just as with Phoenix, Curry had no points until late in the 1Q.
Durant converted consecutive 4-point plays early in the 3Q; he's NOT somebody affected by "landing space" violations, Portland...Nick Young didn't have it tonight, bricking two needed wide-open left corner 3's and fumbling away the possession that could have given GS their first lead, halting the team's momentum after Durant's eight-point flurry...I've never seen refs review whether a guy's foot was on or over the out-of-bounds line until Durant's would-be last-second 3.