Warriors: Week In Review, January 18-24, 2021
(originally written 1/24/21)
115-113 win at Los Angeles Lakers 1/18
121-99 win vs. San Antonio 1/20
119-104 loss vs. New York 1/21
127-108 loss at Utah 1/23
Last week, an amazing comeback win over the defending champion Lakers followed by a blowout win over the San Antonio Spurs left us Warriors fans believing a long winning streak was in store—after all, the Knicks are the Knicks and the red-hot Jazz were due for a stumble. Things didn't shake out that way, though.
The Lakers had the Warriors shackled up in the guillotine, but were not able to fully drop the blade. If not for two separate free throw misses, L.A. would have led Golden State by 20 in the 1Q. They still carried a 16-point lead into halftime, using fantastic passing by F Anthony Davis (six 1Q assists) and repeated matchup exploitations by G Dennis Schroder (25 total points) to build the advantage.
But Golden State battled back in the 4Q, capitalizing on two LeBron James travel calls (WHAT?) and a streak of 10 straight Laker misses from the field. Warriors G Stephen Curry and F Eric Paschall each dropped eight in the quarter to send the Lakers to defeat.
Spurs G Keldon Johnson shot his team into an early deficit (finishing 2-for-12) that they could never climb out of. F LaMarcus Aldridge was a total non-factor, DeMar DeRozan picked up his third foul (and a T) halfway through the 1Q, and G Patty Mills missed just about every one of his shots long. Meanwhile, Golden State was all over the passing lanes, outrebounded the Spurs 54-43 and outshot them 50 to 37 percent (San Antonio hit just 4-of-33 triples).
The Knicks ambushed the Warriors with quick shots, jumping out to a 17-8 1Q lead. Golden State never found an answer for Knicks G Reggie Bullock (4-for-5 on threes) and watched young G R.J. Barrett pour in a career-high 28 points while their own guards Kelly Oubre and Brad Wanamaker combined to shoot 3-for-17. Plus, Warriors F Draymond Green was ejected in the 2Q for yelling...at his own teammate.
New York stuffed nine Warrior shots, including five in the 4Q which snuffed any chance of a momentum shift. As the game progressed, choppy play reigned; the two teams were whistled for 50 fouls, including a flagrant 1 on Paschall vs. New York C Nerlens Noel.
And about the only highlight from Golden State's 19-point loss at Utah was Curry passing Hall-of-Famer Reggie Miller for the second-most three-pointers in NBA history. This game opened as follows:
⦁ Jazz G Royce O'Neale right-corner three
⦁ Warriors C James Wiseman air-ball three
⦁ Jazz G Mike Conley right-corner three
⦁ Oubre air-ball
⦁ Conley top-of-the-arc three
The Dubs didn't even hit the rim until 10:24 remaining in the 1Q! A bright neon sign of what was to follow; Utah's 14-0 game-opening run swelled to a 108-72 lead entering the 4Q. In short, the Warriors' shots wouldn't fall in the first half (43%, nine turnovers) and they remained stuck on 33 points for three minutes. Late in the 2Q, Jazz G Donovan Mitchell dazzled with an array of spins and drives, and the blowout was on. Utah improved to 12-4 and dropped the Warriors back to .500 (8-8).
OBSERVATION: For all his scoring prowess, Curry continues to unleash too many dangerous passes, half of which were with his off-hand. He racked up seven assists against the Lakers—including a great head-fake at the arc that set up a Oubre dunk in the 1Q—but turned the ball over four times. (To the Warriors' credit, aside from those four giveaways and Wiseman's five, the team turned it over just four other times...including ZERO in the pivotal 4Q!)
Against the Spurs, Curry made no fewer than three passes that could be charitably described as "ill-advised". Two were stolen and one nearly was. A cross-court Curry fling was deflected by the Knicks. This is the one gaping hole in his game right now, and he's got to tighten that up fast.
He struggled against the Lakers and goofed against the Knicks, but young Warriors center James Wiseman put on quite a show against the San Antonio Spurs 1/20.
Wiseman had a rotten night against LA. We've mentioned his turnovers and we'll talk about his "fouls" below; the kid was also repeatedly schooled by Schroder on switches, traveled, and while wide open, fumbled a dime from Curry out-of-bounds. BOY, did he bounce back against the Spurs, pouring in 20 points—half of them during a nine-minute dunkfest over the second and third quarters—and not committing a single turnover!
STANDOUT SWAT: Not many candidates, but Oubre, who did make several defensive plays despite his cold shot this week, impressively sent Mills away early in the 2Q against San Antonio. And hard-charging Wiseman blocked a Rudy Gobert (Jazz) transition layup attempt midway through the 1Q—with no whistle from the refs for once.
TOP STOPS: With 8:47 to go in the 2Q at Los Angeles, the diminutive Wanamaker got massive Lakers F James on a switch. But he forced James into an air ball from the left elbow...AND a shot-clock violation! Just over a minute later, Wanamaker stopped James again, knocking the ball off of him out-of-bounds!
C'MON, REF: In 13 minutes, Wiseman was called for five fouls against the Lakers, and maybe three of them were legitimate; his "foul" of Schroder with 12.2 left in the 1H was an outright phantom call. Within 2:23 of the 3Q, Wiseman picked up two offensive fouls and was done for the night, unable to hide the frustration of his worst career game.
Also, Paschall was called for a phantom foul on a short Montrezl Harrell jumper in the early 4Q against the Lakers. But Harrell bricked the free throw, proving in fact that the ball don't lie.
NUMBERS: Paschall's 19 points at L.A. matched a season-high; Golden State is just 1-4 when he scores under 10 points. F/C Kevon Looney shot perfectly (7-for-7, including two treys) against the Lakers, Spurs, Knicks and Jazz. G Damion Lee took 15 shots during the week; 11 were threes—his foot touched the line on a would-be 12th—and only a pair of those threes went in.
The Warriors improved to 4-1 when F Andrew Wiggins hits at least three 3's, and 2-0 when Lee hits at least three 3's. Wanamaker shot just 5-for-21 during the week, including 1-for-10 on 3's. He did not register a single assist in 30 combined minutes against the Knicks and Jazz.
Curry, after opening the season 13-for-38, is shooting 44% since...IF you throw out his 2-for-16 against Toronto 1/10.
BEST DUB SUB: Paschall, without a doubt. His big 4Q helped fuel the Warriors' comeback vs. Los Angeles, and after Spurs giant Jakob Poeltl stymied him inside, Paschall simply started burying jumpers. The second-year forward then scored 12 in 19 minutes vs. New York before a rough one at Utah. No other Golden State sub besides G Kent Bazemore contributed much offense when it counted during the week.
GRINWORTHY: During the comeback vs. the Lakers, with 1:40 to go in the 4Q, Green tossed in an odd, awkward, half-falling lefty shot on which he obviously traveled. After eons of watching the Lakers get every call vs. the Warriors during the Bryant era, I couldn't help but chuckle at the non-whistle.
THE FLURRY: Yes, it was garbage time, but that's almost the only time we see G Jordan Poole these days. Late in the 4Q against the Spurs, he sank three straight threes in about 1:40, including a 29-footer, and none of them even grazed the rim. More of that, and Poole might find himself seeing more action—especially if Oubre continues to build a brick warehouse with his jumpers.
Oh, and those five Wiseman dunks in a nine-minute stretch against the Spurs.
IN THE ZONE (LAL): Lakers F Kyle Kuzma nearly killed the Warriors with a trio of threes in the 3Q, but went cold down the stretch as GS mounted its comeback. He also committed a critical loose ball foul...did Oubre really blow a kiss to Harrell after sinking a three over him? Did Oubre really receive a technical for blowing the kiss? The answers are yes and yes...Oubre had 16 points in the first 17+ minutes of the game, finishing with 23...very early in the 3Q, Oubre's foul on Davis was reversed. On the ensuing tip, Oubre hustled on the loose ball and knocked it off Lakers C Marc Gasol out-of-bounds.
IN THE ZONE (SA): With 5:30 left in the 1Q against San Antonio, Curry glued Spurs defenders Johnson and LaMarcus Aldridge to the floor with a flinch near the three-point line. He then charged in, froze another defender with a fake pass, and put in the layup!...Curry added a four-point play shortly after that layup...Green scored four field goals, two coming off baskets set up by Curry picks. Yes, you're reading that right...Golden State went on a 14-0 run during the later 2Q...Lee was ejected for a Flagrant Foul 2 on Johnson with 9:03 left in the 4Q.
IN THE ZONE (NY): Warriors rookie G Nico Mannion scored the first point of his NBA career...early in the game, a driving Curry went no-look, behind-the-back to feed Green for a left-wing three...with 8:55 remaining in the 3Q, I was ready to flip my lid when the whistle blew on a Bullock missed layup, but it turned out to be a loose ball foul on Bullock...with about 7:35 left in the 3Q, Paschall forced Knicks star Julius Randle into an air ball in the paint, and was rewarded with a slam on the other end.
IN THE ZONE (UTAH): GS F Juan Toscano-Anderson got his first run since 1/3. He's shooting 62% in seven games this season...Mannion scored eight points in 10 minutes of garbage time, sinking two treys...Wiggins blocked three more shots and is averaging 1.6 this season...both Curry's Miller-tying and Miller-passing threes were over Conley...I've bitched in the past about Golden State switching too much. After watching them get repeatedly erased by picks in this game, maybe I should rethink my position.