Curry’s Triple-Double, Romping of Lakers Clinches Playoff Berth for Warriors

By Matthew Harrington

The Golden State Warriors locked in their spot in the 2014 NBA Playoffs Friday night at the Staples Center, riding a Stephen Curry triple-double to a 112-95 dismantling of the host Los Angeles Lakers. By matching or outscoring the Lakers (25-54) in all but one quarter the Dubs clinched their second-consecutive playoff berth under coach Mark Jackson and their first back-to-back postseason qualifications since 1992.

Warriors All-Star Curry fired off 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds over 34 minutes for his fifth-career triple-double. Klay Thompson and reserve Marreese Speights finished with 16 points apiece. David Lee joined Curry in double-digit rebounded with 10 boards.

Nick Young paced the forum purple with 25 points, and Jordan Hill and Ryan Kelly pitched in 18 and 14 respectively. Hill also had a game-high 12 points.

Golden State (49-30) nailed 48.9 percent of shots attempted, including a 13-for-25 clip from beyond the arc. The injury-riddled Lakers hit 39.3 percent of their field goals including only 9-of-28 from downtown. The Warriors dominated the glass with 57 rebounds to LA’s 42.

Both sides finished the first 12 minutes with 26 points. The Warriors rode a huge second quarter to pull ahead 58-42, notching 32 second-quarter points to Los Angeles’ 17. Golden State survived a Lakers 26-25 third quarter scoring margin before finishing off the home team with a 29-26 run to wrap up a playoff bid.

For now, the Warriors sit 1.5 games ahead of the Dallas Mavericks for sixth-place in the Western Conference with Golden State boasting a game in hand. The Portland Trailblazers sit 2.5 games ahead of the Warriors with three games remaining for the Dubs meaning in all likelihood, Golden State will be returning to Los Angeles and the Staples Center to face the third-seed Clippers when the playoffs begin. For now, the task at hand for Jackson’s side is a showdown with the Blazers on Sunday in Portland before the second half of a back-to-back against Minnesota at Oracle. The Warriors then get a chance to wrap up the regular season with revenge against the Denver Nuggets, 100-99 winners in a April 10th showdown in Oakland.

Curry Surprises Jackson With Buzzer-Beater Over Mavs In OT On Coach’s Birthday

By Matthew Harrington
Warriors coach Mark Jackson received quite the birthday gift from his All-star guard Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. Stephen Curry hit the game-winning shot with .1 seconds remaining in overtime to cap a Golden State 122-120 upheaval of the Dallas Mavericks (44-31). As coach Jackson blew out the 49 candles on his cake, the Dubs created a little bit of breathing room in the Western Conference playoff picture. Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs entered play Tuesday with 44 wins, just one less than their foes from California. The Warriors (46-28) have two games in hand over Dallas.

Curry’s game-winner in the extra session, his third career buzzer-beating basket, was a culmination of a 43-minute, 23-point effort. Fellow guard Klay Thompson topped Golden State on 27 points, going 11-for-24 from the field including 4-of9 from downtown. Jermaine O’Neal, starting at center with Andrew Bogut not making the trip nursing a sore groin and David Lee in street clothes for the third-straight game, picked up 20 points and 8 rebounds. Marreese Speights’ 9 rebounds paced the Warriors.

Ex-Warrior Monta Ellis did his best to sink his former franchise, shooting 11-for-23 with 27 points. Mavs perennial All-Star Nowitzki contributed a game-high 33 points over 39 minutes of play and converted the double-double on a game-high 11 boards.

The Warriors connected on a blistering 57.1 shooting percentage, making 52 shots on 91 attempts including nearly half (15) of their 31 shots from beyond the arc. Mark Cuban’s club held the advantage in turnovers, forfeiting possession 8 times to the visitors’ 12. The Mavericks somehow managed to keep Golden State from going to the free throw line for the entirety of the second half.

The Warriors overpowered their hosts in the first, racing out to a 30-21 lead after twelve minutes of play. Dallas bombarded Golden State with 41 second-quarter points, the most the Warriors have yielded in a single frame this season, while limiting the visitors to 23 points for a 62-53 halftime edge.

It took the Warriors nearly ten minutes of play in the third to catch up to Dallas when Speights rolled in a layup to make it 78-all before Vince Carter hit one of two free throws to restore the slim Mavs one-point edge. The Warriors would score seven of the last nine points for an 85-81 lead after three frames.

Dallas capped a 10-5 run to open the fourth with a Carter basket to pull ahead 91-90 nearly four minutes in to the final stanza of regulation. The Warriors briefly wrestled the lead back from their foes but found themselves trailing 106-102 with 1:43 until the final horn. Andre Iguodala and Thompson sandwiched three-pointers around an Ellis jumper to knot things up a 108 a piece with a minute left but that would be the last basket of regulation as the teams would require an five-minute overtime to decide the victor.

Dallas opened the final five minutes on a Dirk jumper before Jermaine O’Neal hit only one of two free throws to pull the Warriors within one at 110-109. O’Neal represented the first Warrior to head to the charity stripe since Thompson completed the and-1 play with 2:55 left in the second quarter. From there the two teams would go shot-for-shot over the next five baskets before a Thompson trey preceded a Curry 16-foot jumper to put the Dubs up 118-117 over halfway through OT.

The Mavs’ Jose Calderon responded with a three of his own before O’Neal took a Draymon Green feed to the rim to knot things up at 120-all. The Warriors were looking for a quick basket to force a last-possession chance, a goal achieved when Green connected with O’Neal with 28 seconds left.

On the penultimate Dallas possession of the game, Ellis tried to take the winning shot but he was rejected on the layup by O’Neal. On the next Warrior possession Curry connected on the off-balance jumper with a tenth of a second remaining. The Mavs couldn’t connect on the in-bound deflection play, and after a brief review, the Warriors win was official.

Golden State looks to give Jackson a second belated gift Wednesday evening. They continue on to a showdown in San Antonio with the Spurs at the AT&T Center where they haven’t won since Valentine’s Day of 1997, just six days before then 31-year-old point guard Jackson was dealt from the Denver Nuggets back to the Indiana Pacers. After the second leg of the Texas road trip the Warriors return to the West Coast for a showdown with in-state rivals, the Sacramento Kings, Friday night at Oracle Arena.

Splash Brothers Will Slumping Warriors to Rally Past Portland Late in 113-112 Thriller

By Matthew Harrington

Whatever message the Warriors discussed in a team meeting following their second-straight loss Friday night, one that saw a 15-point Golden State lead swing into a loss against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, certainly stuck with the Splash Brothers. It just took some time in Sunday evening’s 113-112 win over the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center for the backcourt tandem of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry to take over. The emerging faces of the franchise rallied Golden State (42-26) 18-point deficit in the third quarter to cap a wild comeback while avoiding a three-game losing skid for the first time since November 20-23 of this season.

Thompson, absent from Friday’s 103-94 loss to attend his grandfather’s funeral in the Bahamas, and Curry chipped in 15 points apiece in the fourth quarter, scoring 30 of 36 Warrior points in the pivotal period. The guards combined for 64 points, including 28 second-half points for Curry and 23 for Thompson to push the Dubs to their 15th triumph in 21 tries away from the friendly confines of Oracle Arena. The dominant road run is the first of its kind in franchise history.

After Curry’s 37 points and Thompson’s 27, including the eventual game-winner, David Lee finished third on the team with 16 points in only 24 minutes of play. Warriors forward Draymond Green had a team-high eight rebounds before fouling out. Damian Lillard led Portland (43-24) with 26 points while Nicolas Batum added 23 of his own to accompany a game-best 14 rebounds. Blazers center Robin Lopez converted a double-double as well, collecting 10 rebounds and 14 points. LaMarcus Aldridge sat out his second-consecutive game with a lower back contusion suffered in a 103-90 Blazers loss at San Antonio Wednesday.

Golden State opened the game again struggling to address the woes that sparked Friday’s closed-doors discussion. The Warriors found themselves trailing the team directly above them in the standings 55-44 at the half Sunday night. Portland, entering play with a 3.5 games ahead of the Warriors for fifth in the Western Conference, built on its first half success in the third. The Blazers took their largest cushion of the night, an 18-point separation, after Nicolas Batum hit a three to make it 70-52 Blazers 4:11 into the quarter. The Dubs chipped away with a 25-15 run over the final four-plus minute stretch to cut the deficit to 85-77, setting up the thrilling fourth-quarter momentum shift.

12 minutes away from only what would be only the second three-game losing streak all season, Golden State rallied to tie the game at 96-all with just over half a quarter. The Warriors evened the score courtesy of string of play where the Dubs limited Portland to 11 points while scoring 19 of their own over the first half of the final period of play. After Curry hit the free throw on Portland coach Terry Stotts’ technical foul, Thompson connected on only the second of two attempts from the charity stripe to give the Warriors their first lead since the first quarter now standing six minutes from the final whistle.

The lead changed hands five times over the next 5:49 of game time before Thompson,who arrived in the States late Saturday night, buried a three with just 11 seconds remaining on the clock to swing the scoreboard in  the Warriors’ favor 113-111. Golden State’s Andre Iguodala fouled Batum on a bid to even the game with five ticks left on the clock but the Blazers forward missed the potential tying shot after getting the first free throw to fall. Batum followed his miss and came up with the rebound, but his three-pointer from far out fell a few feet short of the basket as the buzzer sounded for Portland’s fifth loss in six games.

Warriors Center Andrew Bogut departed the game with 6:22 to play after suffering an apparent ankle injury on a layup attempt. Warriors coach Mark Jackson dismissed any concerns about the Aussie’s health, saying that Bogut asked to be subbed back in. Barring any setbacks, he should be on the Oracle Arena floor Tuesday night when the Warriors take on the Orlando Magic.

Dismal Shooting Dooms Dubs in Decisive 91-75 Defeat to Charlotte

By Matthew Harrington

What a difference a month makes. The Golden State Warriors started January smack dab in the middle of what would be a 10-game win streak, the second-longest in franchise history. In Tuesday night’s 91-75 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats at Oracle Arena the Warriors opened the second month on the calendar on a far less meritorious note. A 75-point output courtesy of a 31.2 shooting percentage against Charlotte (22-28) represented single-game lows in both categories for Golden State this season. The usually sharp-shooting Warriors (29-20) nailed only four shots from beyond the arc on 20 attempts in a night when the home team hoop had an air-tight lid over it.

No Warrior reached double-digits in field goals, with Stephen Curry (8 for 18), Klay Thompson (5 for 13) and David Lee (3-13) all struggling to make the baskets fall in front of the sell-out crowd. Curry’s 17 points topped all Warriors player, while Thompson added 12.

Al Jefferson led the Bobcats to the win on a game-high 30 points and Bobcat-best 13 rebounds for the double-double and guard Gerald Henderson dropped 17. Warriors center Andrew Bogut pulled down 15 boards to lead all players.

Things appeared to be going the Warriors way early, with the home team leading 7-5 just under three minutes into play, but Charlotte held the hosts to only three field goals to close out the first quarter holding a 26-13 lead. Golden State struggled to gain ground in the second 12 minutes, cutting the deficit to nine points a handful of times, but couldn’t sustain momentum. They faced a 51-39 Bobcat lead at the half.

The second half was another 24 minutes of futility for the Warriors, as Charlotte outscored Golden State 40-36 to maintain the lead and sweep the season series against. Charlotte is now 10-9 in its last 19 meetings with Golden State.

The loss proved another example for Coach Mark Jackson who called out the Warriors, losers of 6 of their last 10, for playing down to the ability of a lesser opponent during the tough stretch. Dually disappointing for Jackson’s squad is the missed opportunity for the Warriors, despite their struggles to move past the Phoenix Suns into second place in the Pacific Division. Phoenix, entering play Tuesday night a half-game up on the Warriors, lost earlier in the night 101-92 at home to the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls will travel further west to square off with Golden State at Oracle Arena Thursday night. After the Bulls come to town, the Warriors hit the road, heading to the desert to face the team directly above them in the standings for a Saturday night contest in Phoenix.

All-Star Snub Lee States Case As Warriors Dismantle Division-Leading Clippers

By Matthew Harrington

Coach Mark Jackson accused his Golden State Warriors of playing down to their opponents amidst a stretch that has seen the Warriors drop six of their last nine, a cold streak that reached its lowest point with a Tuesday night 88-85 loss at home to the lowly Washington Wizards. His team played to the level of its opponent against Thursday night. Luckily for Jackson, the team on the opponents’ bench happened to be one of the best of the West. The Warriors (28-19) rebounded from Tuesday’s embarrassment in a big way, thumping the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers 111-92 at Oracle Arena in a game where the outcome practically never came under doubt.

The Dubs big men manhandled their Southern California foes, with David Lee and Andrew Bogut combining for 36 points and 28 rebounds for their second-straight win over in-state rivals Los Angeles (33-16). The Warriors also downed the Clippers on Christmas day in a more physical 105-103 win and lead the season series 2-1.

Lee, making a statement after being overlooked for a reserve role on the Western Conference All-Star squad after spots were announced Thursday, tied Stephen Curry for a Warriors-best 22 points on the night and chipped in 11 boards for the double-double. Bogut connected on seven of eleven field goal attempts for 14 points, including a nifty desperation chuck with the shot clock expiring that drew a smile from the Aussie center, and pulled down 17 rebounds. His 17 boards were second only to Clippers center DeAndre Jordan who reeled 20 down off the rim. All-world talent Blake Griffin ended the contest with 27 points for Los Angeles to lead all scorers. Guard Darren Collison netted 22 starting in place of All-Star Chris Paul, out with a shoulder injury since January 3rd but expected to return as early as next week.

The Warriors raced out to an early 17-6 lead just under halfway through the first quarter then held the 11-point edge leading 32-21 to close the quarter. The home team continued to add to the lead in the second before the Clippers put together their best run off the night in the final five minutes of the half. Trailing Golden State 56-40, L.A. closed out the period outscoring the Warriors 16-8 to trail 64-56. The Clippers comeback ended prematurely with the Warriors smothering their visitors 26-11 then closed out the game despite being outscored 25-21 in the fourth quarter for the 111-92 final margin.

The win came at a desperate time for the Warriors, who were in danger of dropping back six games in the standings to the Clippers. The Dubs stand four games back in third place in the division after being leapfrogged by the red-hot Phoenix Suns, winners of four-straight and seven of their last ten. The Warriors have a prime opportunity to string together consecutive wins for the first time since their historic ten-game win-streak was snapped earlier in the month when they face the Utah Jazz, who boast the second-least wins in the Western Conference (16) Friday night in the second half of back-to-back games. For coach Jackson, the hope is that the Warriors can right a spin that has seen the Dubs go 4-6 over their last ten while playing above the level of their opponents, the Northeast Division’s last place Jazz.

Bob Myers: “we have the aptitude, we need the attitude”

By Gabe Schapiro

In the final session in a series of Golden State Warriors players and staff being made available to the media, today general manager Bob Myers sat down to answer some questions.

A basic principle that Myers kept coming back to was the simple idea of working hard and success being a natural result. One of the first things he said to the gathered press was a Thomas Edison quote to illustrate the personal and organizational philosophy, “opportunity is often missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Elements of that idea entered into his answer for several questions that followed.

Among them was his answer about what to expect from the team this year. It was addressed yesterday by coach Mark Jackson, and has been a hot topic ever since the team made the splash signing of Andre Iguodala. With the season approaching and the excitement building, Myers’ answer, similar to Jackson’s, was based more in a fundamental idea of leaving it all on the court, and not in a number of wins. “It’s a razor’s edge between winning and losing. To define a goal and say if we don’t do this or that we’re not going to have a successful year, it isn’t the right way to analyze our success and what our goals should be. We should leave the season knowing that we did everything that we could to be successful.” He continued, “we have the aptitude. We need the attitude. We have the talent, but we have to work hard, and make sure we get everything we can out of that talent.”

Despite avoiding any kind of exclamation about a certain number of wins, it shouldn’t be mistaken that their ultimate goal is to win a championship. “The ultimate goal is to win the whole thing. That’s what you play for. You don’t go play anything and think, ‘well second, third, fourth, that would be fine.”

It’s pretty clear what their internal expectations are, but the external expectations from fans and the media can apply a different kind of pressure. It’s a pressure, however, that Myers welcomes. “Expectations are new, I think, for this organization in some capacity, but all of the good organizations have expectations. It is where you want to be…we’re in a place where we think we deserve those expectations.”

Beyond the overall team goals, Myers also covered what to expect from certain players, and how they have been looking during unofficial workouts. It’s no surprise that much of the emphasis continued to be on possibly their two most important players, Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry.

Regarding Bogut, Myers concurred with the many reports that he is looking very good. He described him as “the player we envisioned when we traded for him. This is the player that if you follow the NBA you would have seen three or four years ago.”

In explaining the differences from what we saw last season, Myers delved into the mental side of the game, and how much of an impact injuries can have.  “He is just happier. It’s almost like you had an injury or a toothache that was there for a year, and all of a sudden it’s gone. You just feel better. You interact with people better, and it translates in your play.”

He had very similar sentiments about Curry. “I think he just feels good, his ankle feels good. A lot of the time when you’re injured or sore you don’t want to test your limits…If they’re not thinking about an injury, they’re probably playing better.”

Myers also talked a little about a couple of the Warriors young European newcomers, Nemanja Nedovic, the Warriors most recent first round pick, and Ognjen Kuzmic, a second round selection from 2012.

On Nedovic, Myers gave a brief description of what he has seen from him. “He was a little inconsistent which is normal for a young player, but he did show some flashes against some high level competition.” He went on to say that with the kind of depth the roster has heading into camp, it will be difficult for him to earn himself many minutes right off the bat, but that one way or another they will make sure he’s playing. “If we’re not finding minutes for him…then we’ll probably put him in Santa Cruz. Our philosophy as an organization, we all believe that you aren’t getting better at basketball unless you’re playing basketball. We’re big believers and proponents of the D league.”

For Kuzmic the biggest news was that they are still working on buying out his contract with his European club, but they are expecting that to be resolved by next week. He will be guaranteed a roster spot.

Finally, to wrap up his media session, Myers touched on the issues of managing players minutes, and who the starting five will be.

Last year, because of a lack of depth, in part due to some injuries, the Warriors really ended up leaning pretty hard on certain players. The hope heading into this season is that they’ve compiled enough depth to spread the minutes around more to preserve their key assets. “You get caught up in winning, that’s why minutes get up there… You could almost justify having a guy like Curry in there the whole game, he’s that good. But that’s not the best thing for the team long term. The nice thing we think, we hope, about this roster is that we’ve got options where you don’t have to go 40 plus minutes.”

The current roster has six players on it who were starters last year, meaning one is going to be relegated to sixth man duties. Myers had a simple answer; it’s a good problem to have. “It’s better to have six or seven guys who can start than only two, right?” He continued, “I think if you look at the teams who competed for a championship this year, the Spurs and the Heat, they both had some very good players coming off of the bench, whoever that may be for us….so to win at the highest level you might need 6, 7 guys who can start. Hopefully that’s what we have.”

For nailing down which players fill what roles, again Myers had a simple answer. “I fully trust his [Mark Jackson’s] judgment on that, I think we all do.”

Mark Jackson: “we’re not satisfied with last year”

By Gabe Schapiro

With just a few days until official practices start Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson took some time to answer questions for the media.

Following an exciting playoff run and an eventful offseason, Jackson’s overall tone was calm, cool, and collected. He was confident but not brash, and early on established that “we’re not satisfied with last year.”

The number that is, or was, written in the locker room as the team’s wins goal this season has gotten some attention recently, but it is no longer there. “Yeah, I erased it,” Jackson said with a chuckle, continuing more seriously, “if you put that up there it’s a target. I don’t want any limits. That could be a great number or it could be a number where you’re putting a ceiling on us.” Predictably, Jackson refused to discuss any numbers, but more abstractly set his goal that if they “end our season with the tank on empty, we’ll be extremely satisfied by what takes place.”

Jackson was asked about last years team flying under the radar, a concept he took some offense to, reasoning, “I think it’s doing a disservice to our players to say that at some point we caught people by surprise. No, we’re a very good basketball team.” Adding that even if that may have happened in the past, that given last years success and the splashes they made over the offseason, now “we’re not going to sneak up on anybody that’s for sure.”

He offered some updates on how some players are recovering and how others have progressed since last year. Early reports from the voluntarily workouts that have been taking place over the past few weeks were that center Andrew Bogut has looked impressive, and Jackson confirmed. “It’s accurate that he’s looking very good, you can tell by the smile on my face.” Last season Bogut missed a lot of time early in the year, and even when in the lineup was frequently on minutes restrictions and just didn’t look like the player that many fans had been accustomed to seeing. Jackson was happy to report “for the first time in a long time, there are no restrictions on him.” It can’t be understated just how valuable a fully healthy Bogut could mean to this Warriors squad.

Stephen Curry and his at times worrisome ankles are also holding up well. He has had no setbacks thus far, and Jackson went so far as to offer up an entertaining anecdote about Curry matching up against Kent Bazemore during workouts. “He’s making moves and making plays where I want to pull Kent Bazemore aside and have prayer with him for a moment. Steph is that good right now.”

During last years playoffs, following David Lee’s injury, Golden State tried and had a lot of success playing Harrison Barnes at power forward. Jackson touched on the immense amount of versatility this roster offers him, and while he wouldn’t specify on how often he intends to use what combinations, he did report that Barnes has bulked up over the summer. “Barnes has gotten bigger, stronger, he plays with an edge. Today he has a body where he can play against power forwards. Physically he can handle it.” Given his athletic ability and how well he handled his rookie season, a bulked up Barnes could present even more headaches for opposing teams.

Towards the end of the 30 or so minutes he spent talking, he was asked about his contract. A couple of months ago the Warriors picked up the team option on Jackson’s contract, giving him two more guaranteed years, rather than discussing a long-term, more lucrative deal. Jackson quickly dismissed the situation as “not a concern.” “At the end of the day that’s going to take care of itself.” Adding at the end, “I look forward to being here for quite a while.”

Over the past few months there has been almost nothing but good news coming out of Golden State’s headquarters, and today was much of the same.