Now how difficult was that?
The Golden State Warriors haven’t played much defense at all over the last month-plus, but Monday night was a different story. Playing against a New York Knicks team missing Amare Stoudemire, the Dubs pulled away early and cruised to a 92-63 win, arguably their easiest victory of the season.
It was Golden State’s best defensive performance of the season, by a long shot, with the team essentially doing everything it failed to do when the two teams squared off on Feb. 27. They kept the Knicks off the three point line. They crashed the boards on defense and limited New York’s second chance opportunities. David Lee avoided shoving Roy Hibbert the previous night.
Because of Lee’s presence, Stephen Curry didn’t feel the need to go all Reggie Miller on us, but still had a phenomenal game. He continued to torch New York from the outside, draining six of the ten three-pointers he took. Despite finishing with a measly 26 points (I keed, I keed), Curry’s play up top opened up the perimeter for fellow guard Klay Thompson (26 of his own) and the post for David Lee (21 and 10 rebounds, his 878th double-double of the season). With the Knicks struggling to get much going on the offensive end, that was all the Warriors needed.
In fact, it was pretty much all they got. No other Warrior scored more than five points. That’s not to say no one else had a productive evening–Andrew Bogut pulled down 11 boards and Festus Ezeli added ten of his own–but the bench continued to do whatever the opposite of “making your presence felt” is. It’s this writer’s opinion that Jarrett Jack has played the last several weeks at less than 100 percent health, which is something to keep an eye on as the playoff push continues.
Luckily for Golden State, they ran into a Knicks team that is still applying ointment to its injury bug bite. Stoudemire was absent, and Carmelo Anthony, playing in his forst game back after a minor ailment of his own, did not play like the top-five player we know him to be. Melo shot just 4-of-15 from the field and couldn’t drive either the lane or the baseline with authority. It might be a stretch considering how inept the Knicks were on offense throughout the night, but a healthy Anthony might have altered the outcome, or at least opened things up for New York to enhance its scoring chances.
But based on how things have gone lately for the Warriors, there isn’t much to gripe about. Golden State needed a win in the worst way after beginning what was supposed to be a season-saving home stand just 2-2 over the first four contests. Golden State can use a lot of what transpired on Monday night for the rest of the season in its endeavor to secure the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2006-07.
The Pistons and Bulls comprise the remainder of the Warriors’ seven-game stay at Oracle, two teams the Warriors and their fans expect to send into the locker room with heads hanging. With a day off in between each contest, it should be a priority to rest the bench and prepare the key players for the final stretch run. Golden State is still in prime position to get into the postseason, and wins like Monday’s will go a long ways towards vanquishing the panic that has enveloped Bay Area talk radio and online columns for the last week.