It was ugly, uneasy, and at times extremely disheartening. But the Warriors pulled out a win in the beginning of the home stretch towards a potential playoff birth. The Dubs were led by David Lee who filled up the stat sheet but was less than stellar at the defense getting outworked by Amir Johnson. Lee finished with 29 points with 11 boards and kept the Warriors afloat in a rocky third quarter that saw the home team allow the Raptors to take the lead going into the closing quarter, being outscored 36 to 21 in the third.
However, that quarter was quickly forgotten as Klay Thompson, amid foul trouble all night, came in and jump started the Dubs’ fourth quarter offense. He opened the quarter with eight quick points and nice assist to a cutting Lee to bring Golden State within two of Toronto. From then on, everyone got going. Curry especially started to feel it as he took advantage of John Lucas III for much of the quarter with 15 points in the quarter, finishing with 26 total, and leading the Dubs to a 42 point final frame.
Harrison Barnes, who played solid defense on newly acquired Rudy Gay for most of the night, hit a wide open triple that gave enough separation for the Dubs to cruise to the finish line along with probably one of the nicest finishes (Pekovic you are not forgotten) of the night to close the game. Isolating Gay at the top of the key, he crossed over, elevated, switched to the left and curled in the And-1 for the dagger. Plays like that will make the last part of the schedule interesting. If Barnes can use the homecourt to elevate his game to another level for the playoffs, the Dubs could make some noise.
BUT, the most troubling issue was the lack of defensive rebounding despite the return of Andrew Bogut. This has been a recent trend in Warriors’ losses recently and one would figure with the Aussie returning to the middle, that issue would be eliminated. Except, if anything, it was worse at times even with David Lee, rebound “extraordinaire” (I hear you Sloan attendees), as the Dubs gave up 19 offensive rebounds (12 to Johnson alone) allowing numerous second chances. Couple that with 14 turnovers and the Raptors got up 12 additional shots. Additionally, the Raptors shot more free throws the the Dubs despite fouling much of the fourth quarter. If the Dubs continuously lose in those two categories, it may not get any better down the stretch.
The Raptors fought tooth and nail the whole night and look to be ready to steal the game with the third quarter burst. Since acquiring Gay (26 points tonight), the Raps have been a tougher team overall to deal with down the stretch. Additionally, Andrea Bargnani was unstoppable at times, raining jumpers from everywhere at Oracle ending up with 26 points while going 5 of 6 on threes. But, the supporting cast went MIA the final eight minutes of the game allowing the Dubs to put the game away.
Turning Point: Barnes three was probably the biggest shot of the game. If he misses and Raps come down and score a bucket, it’s a dogfight to end. He made it and gave the Dubs a much needed cushion.
MVP: Klay Thompson. Take David Lee if you want. I’m taking Thompson because he came right in, despite the foul trouble, and sparked the fourth quarter charge. He played through some questionable foul calls and hit back-to-back threes along with a long two in a fourth quarter the Dubs needed to take. If you are a Dubs fan, you can also insert John Lucas here as well for allowing Curry to find his groove as well. Speaking of which…
LVP: John Lucas III. When you have a -16 in 15 minutes, no explanation is needed.
Coming up: As Jim Barnett demanded, payback is due to the Sacramento Kings for the two losses up in the state capitol earlier in the season. The Warriors need to carry the momentum from this fourth quarter into that game. Bogut needs to be ready for the manchild, and headcase, DeMarcus Cousins, who has owned the Warriors in the first two meetings.