The Golden State Warriors keep on moving towards breaking the single season win record with Stephen Curry leading the way. Even Shaun Livingston had his moment in the spotlight, as did Klay Thompson, although there’s nothing new about that. But like in every difficult, less than smooth game for the defending NBA champions, it’s about Draymond Green taking the team on his back.
The Warriors moved up to 68 wins and 7 losses this season by beating the Utah Jazz 103-96 in overtime. Curry scored 31 points and Thompson added 18, but the Jazz held the Warriors on 43.8% from the field and a rare 34.3% from beyond the arc, in what very well may be the first round series in the Western Conference between the number one and number eight seeds.
It’s funny to say that Stephen Curry was struggling when he scored 31 points, but it’s true. And once again, like in other games that the Warriors have struggled late in, it’s Draymond Green taking his intensivity level up a notch on defense that makes the change. The Jazz were only 3-for-9 from the field in overtime, while the Warriors made all five of their field goals (no threes!) while Green himself did some excellent work in the paint, just like Curry with two field goals.
The hero in terms of one, memorable heroic action, was Shaun Livingston. He grabbed the offensive rebound that saved the day, setting up Klay Thompson for the three pointer that sent the game into overtime. Thompson gets the points. He’s the second best scorer on this team. But it’s Green who’s the motor, the heart, the everything. He blocked one three pointer attempt by Shelvin Mack. His defense in the paint next to Andrew Bogut or without him is exceptional. Curry is having a legendary season, but so is Green, in a more low key way.
With his 13 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and three blocks, he became the first player in NBA history to have 1000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists, 100 blocks and 100 steals in one season. Blocks and steals don’t always tell the story of how good a defender is, but Green shows how good he is with numbers and without. The most versatile player in the NBA might be the right definition. He’s quite close to knocking down 100 three pointers in this season too.
Curry scored 31 points and it wasn’t a good game for him. He was 9-for-21 from the field entering overtime, and looked exhausted in the fourth quarter. The Jazz have the privilege of being able to chase him with a number of bigger defenders. As the San Antonio Spurs showed in their win over the Warriors: Making Curry work for his shots and not make it part of the Warriors ball movement and offensive scheme takes a toll on him. Too bad there are so many other good players besides Curry, very few teams can actually execute that gameplan and not get hurt in other ways.