Defensive ability isn’t what people usually associate with the Golden State Warriors, for good reason. Their strengths is usually with their outside shooting, and no one presents that ability better than Stephen Curry, who didn’t have the kind of night he had against the Knicks at the Madison Square Garden, but he ended up with a win this time.
He wasn’t the only man who deserved a pat on the back, but it was mostly him, at least on the offensive side. Curry led the team with 26 points to a 92-63 win, which is the fewest points the Warriors have allowed since the Philadelphia Warriors beat the Milwaukee Hawks 69-63 on Dec. 28, 1953. Mark Jackson knows it had a lot to do with the New York Knicks being especially awful themselves, but he wasn’t complaining.
That’s a heck of a defensive night. It takes a combination of great defense and, at times, bad offense. I wish we could take all the credit.
The Knicks shot a horrible 27.5% from the field and couldn’t get their best weapon, their outside shooting, to work. They made only 18.5% of their shots from beyond the arc, and not for lack of trying, going 5-27. This time it wasn’t Carmelo Anthony (14 points) or Raymond Felton who didn’t stop taking ill-advised shots from long range as they often tend to do, but pretty much everyone, especially from the bench, in one of those performances that it’s sad to see in the NBA but are bound to happen once in a while in such a long season – A team giving up on trying to think and play hard, hoping that taking the shortest route, three point shooting, will get them back to the game.
But a three point shot isn’t some kind of gimmick to help you cut the lead quickly. It’s about playing right, creating the right kind of shot. The kind of basketball the Knicks were playing earlier this season, until Carmelo Anthony got a little bit greedier, the defense stopped playing like one, perfect, unified unit, and the balls stopped dropping in the 45% percentile.
Curry wasn’t alone in the battle. Klay Thompson usually heats up next to his back court partner, and scored 23 points, shooting 9-18 from the field as well, just like Curry. David Lee was suspended the last time the two teams met in New York, and was also suspended in the recent loss to the Bucks. While usually criticized on posting big numbers without the right kind of hustle and defensive discipline to complement them on the other side of the court. He finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists playing against his former team.
For the Warriors, it was a perfect way to get back on their feet and halt a worrying slide that has seen them lose six f their last 10 games, bringing them far too close to the bottom of the pile among the postseason teams. They’re still in the best shape among Houston, Utah and the Lakers, but they’re not in the clear yet. For the Knicks, this was the worst way to kick off a road trip, lacking any kind of focus and energy, with the second spot in the East in jeopardy.