Sometimes it’s not just about winning the game, but also about avoiding the humiliation involved, especially when it’s losing at home to tanking team like the Milwaukee Bucks. The Golden State Warriors have Stephen Curry to get them out of these sort of jams, and the best shooter in the NBA came through with flying colors to bring them to the promised land with a tough 115-110 win.
That’s going to be the case sometimes against teams like the Bucks, who’ll lose 60-70% of their games, but they have talent to cause trouble here and there. Some terrible defense from the Warriors, something Mark Jackson has to be worried about, showing up not for the first time in recent games, an excellent performance from Brandon Knight / Ramon Sessions, combining to score 45 points from the point guard position and some awful basketball from Harrison Barnes combined to make this a rougher night than it should have been.
Barnes is playing for Andre Iguodala in the lineup, and the former North Carolina man just doesn’t seem to be finding his rhythm in the starting five again, which some felt would propel his game to the heights he showed last season. He finished with 0 points in 27 minutes, finishing with 0-of-7 from the field, and not really helping out on defense the way Iguodala contributes even when his shot isn’t really doing well.
This was the kind of game that had the Warriors leaning on their known scoring outlets, which is nice for numbers and the regular season, but without a little bit of extra in the playoffs there’s not much of a chance to make it into the conference semifinals even. Stephen Curry led the way with 31 points, including 14 coming during the fourth quarter. He simply didn’t make mistakes, shooting 9-of-14 from the field, 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, 10-of-10 from the line and managed to add 11 assists on top of that.
Thompson scored 29 points, including one amazing spin move that he’s been perfecting this season, although his aim from deep (3-of-11) was a little off. David Lee scored 22 points to go with 11 rebounds. The Warriors got the points from the guy they know will be there for them, but they need big games from Barnes, Green and even Andrew Bogut, who usually leaves his contributing to the defensive end.
And despite all the doom and gloom I’m spewing, the Warriors are in good shape. They are 13-4 since the All-Star break, tied with San Antonio for the most wins during that time. They are at 18 over .500 for first time in 20 years, which just goes to show that the progress made last season wasn’t just a one time thing. They’ve won 10 games in a row when scoring over 100 points. There’s plenty to be happy about.
But Jackson is right when he says that defense is the key to doing more than last year, and right now, injuries or not, the Warriors are struggling on that end. All the three pointers from Klay Thompson and the great job Stephen Curry is doing as a multi-dimensional point guard is fine, but without someone to back them up in the paint, it’s only going to be about nice numbers, nothing else.