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Playing true to form, the Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam was basically a dunk off in the first half as the rookies lead the sophomores 71-69 going into halftime. Both sides combined for a total of 22 dunks in the first half, highlighted by a sweet alley-oop from John Wall to Blake Griffin who threw it down with two hands and his head high above the rim. Dejuan Blair added to the dunking extravaganza by throwing it off the glass to himself on a breakway.
As for the bay area boys, the Sacramento Kings' DeMarcus Cousins had a huge dunk over the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry early on in the game, finishing the first half with 10 points. The loudest thing about Stephen Curry's game in the first half were probably his socks and shoes, sporting a fresh pair of blue and yellow kicks matched by his tie-dye looking blue and yellow socks. His best highlight so far came from pre-game warmups, as he hit a half-court shot with ease.
Blake Griffin was also inadvertently elbowed in the nose by Dejuan Blair, much to the chagrin of the hometown crowd, but will play in the second half and it will not affect the rest of his busy All-Star weekend.
All-Star weekend is finally upon us and what better way to kick it off then the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam. The Bay area will be well represented tonight as the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry and the Sacramento Kings' DeMarcus Cousins square off in what should be an exciting matchup of a lot of talented youngsters. the Kings' Tyreke Evans was picked for the sophomore team, but pulled out due to injury. Curry and the sophomores will be coached by Steve Kerr while the rookies will be coached by Kevin McHale. Stephen was part of the winning rookie squad last year, and is looking to repeat as champion against a group of hungry rookies, led by the Los Angeles Clippers' human highlight reel, Blake Griffin.
This matchup, like the All-Star game, usually involves some serious scoring and little to no defense. I'm looking forward to seeing some ridiculous dimes and even more ridiculous dunks. One thing to note is that unlike NBA games that consist of four quarters this game will be played as two 20 minute halves. Should be an exciting night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Sometimes you just need to be pushed a little.
After defeating the Utah Jazz 107-100 last night, the Golden State Warriors have a three-game winning streak against playoff-caliber talent on their hands. But is this a fluke or are the W’s on their way to being a good NBA team? Well, it depends on how you look at it.
If you look at it from a numbers perspective then yes, the Warriors have gotten better. Take a look at how SBNation’s Tom Ziller breaks it down:
The team’s scoring margin (-2.7) has improved (-3.6 last season). The team’s offense has improved (to No. 11 from No. 14). The team’s defense has improved (to No. 27 from No. 29). The Warriors were 18-23 at home last season; they already have 19 home wins with 11 more to go. Maybe these are marginal improvements, but they are improvements. And after decades of quick fixes and rampant failure under Chris Cohan, improvements, however small, matter.
True, statistically speaking the Warriors are better than they were last year. But is that really a good measuring stick? The Warriors were pretty bad last year, and those improvements are nominal. I think we should look at it from a different perspective. Like how the San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami remarked last night after the game:
The Warriors, on the end of a back-to-back, on the road, pulled out a gutsy victory over Utah–which is not at its best, but is still a playoff-level team, that was at home. (Also on a back-to-back, but ending it at home, which is easier. For UTAH. Again: Not a criticism of the Warriors.)
I asked the Warriors to prove they were better than in years past by winning on the road, and they promptly won on the road. How hard was that, fellahs?
Still pretty hard considering they’re 7-18 on the road. That isn’t going to cut it in the Western Conference. If only we could move the W’s to the East, then we’d have a playoff team! But since we can’t, and we don’t, we will have to keep moving forward one game at a time. Things like beating a top tier team on the second night of a back-to-back matter. Having a slightly improved defense matters. It shows the players and fans that there is light at the end of the tunnel. If The Warriors take all of the little victories and lessons learned along the way and build on them, I think it will eventually equate to winning more games. They have 27 more chances this season, starting with the Celtics on Tuesday. Let’s hope the W’s can pick up where they left off.
Monta Ellis went for 35 points and Dorell Wright added 22 as the Golden State Warriors fended off the Utah Jazz 107-100 at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City. With the win the Warriors go into the All-Star break riding a 3 game win streak while the Jazz make it 5 straight losses at home for the first time since 1982. The Warriors have won 6 of their last 8, 5 of which were against teams with winning records, while the Jazz continue to struggle, losing 13 of their last 17 games.
In a game that saw 19 lead changes, neither team ever seemed to have control for longer then a few minutes. Golden State got out rebounded by the Jazz 40-34 and were +3 in turnovers, but in the end kept the Jazz’s offense at bay with some clutch shooting of their own. The game remained tight until the 4th quarter when Monta took over. Ellis continually broke down Utah’s defense, cutting to the basket and hitting contested jump shots, basically scoring at will down the stretch. Stephen Curry meanwhile had a night to forget, scoring only one basket and finishing with 4 points. The Jazz fought hard the whole game even as Deron Williams struggled from the field. He shot 5-13 and finished with 18 points and 11 assists, but had 5 turnovers (unusually high by his standards). Al Jefferson added 23 and 11 rebounds but it still wasn’t enough for the Jazz (31-26), who go into the break scratching their heads and looking for answers.
The Warriors head into the All-Star break with a 26-29 record overall looking to make a post season push in their final 27 games of the regular season.
The hard fought battle continued in the second half as the Warriors and Jazz go into the final period tied at 76. The Jazz came out attacking the rim, starting with a 7-0 run to begin the 3rd quarter. The Warriors seemed to be trying to match the Jazz’s energy but only came up with sloppy turnovers to show for it. Utah wanted to play as up-tempo as possible, which would seem to play into the Warriors hand. But with 6 turnovers in the quarter and the shots not falling, the Warriors were going to have to dig deep to keep up.
Golden State struggled to stop the pick and roll with Al Jefferson and Deron Williams, leading to some easy hoops for the Jazz. Meanwhile Monta Ellis stayed in his attack mode (as usual) scoring 7 points in the 3rd quarter to keep the game close. Charlie Bell and Dorell Wright hit a couple of 3 pointers but for the most part the Warriors aren’t taking many 3’s thus far. Curry still couldn’t take the lid off the rim, staying at 2 points and making no field goals for the game. The Warriors are going to have to lock down the defense and hit some clutch 3’s to keep the Jazz from winning this game.
The Warriors had a hard fought second quarter, ending the first half with a 48-48 tie. Golden State’s good defense continued, keeping the Jazz under 50% shooting while offering up very few easy baskets, continually contested shots, and grabbed a few rebounds. It was a balanced yet uncharacteristic first half for the Warriors, shooting only 16.7% from 3 point range and taking only 7 free throw attempts, but matched the Jazz in total rebounds (19) and assists (11).
The game had a small delay in the second quarter as a power surge killed the lights for a couple of minutes inside the EnergySolutions Arena. Not all of the lights came back, and the referees decided to play on with some of the lights still being off. Monta Ellis ended the half with 12 points and 2 assists while Deron Williams had 8 points and 7 assists. I expect these guys to be the offensive catalysts for the rest of the game. Jeremy Lin and Brandon Wright saw some decent minutes off the bench, scoring 5 and 6 respectively while Steph Curry missed all 6 of his field goals attempted with his only points coming from the free throw line. Look for Deron Williams and Al Jefferson to continue to utilize the pick and roll, while Curry and Ellis will look to make some open shots.
Both the Warriors and Jazz are on the second game of a back to back, and it showed early as the Jazz take a 23-20 lead. All 5 starters for the Jazz scored in the first quarter, led by Paul Milsap who came out firing scoring 10 early points. David Lee countered for Golden State with 7 points and 2 rebounds.
A lot of missed shots for the Warriors as they only shoot 39% from the field, 25% from 3 point range. Deron Williams seemed to reinjure his wrist which called for some medical attention. He still managed to put up 4 points with 4 assits. Monta Ellis was attacking the rim early, scoring 6 while Stephen Curry missed both his 3 pointers and ended the quarter scoreless. Jazz end the quarter shooting 53%.
Head on over to Golden State of Mind's game thread to follow in-game discussion.
Coming off of quality wins against the Thunder and Hornets, the Golden State Warriors look to extend their winning streak tonight versus the struggling Utah Jazz. Heading into the All-Star break, the Warriors want to take their improved defense on the road while the Jazz just want to stop the bleeding.
The Warriors have been playing more of a collective style of basketball lately, holding their opponents to under 100 points in 5 of their last 6 wins, yet they still seem to struggle away from Oracle Arena, posting a 6-18 record on the road thus far. And although they currently sit in 8th spot in the Western Division, the Jazz look to get back to their winning ways without Jerry Sloan. Utah is 0-2 under new head coach Ty Corbin, and on the verge of losing 5 home games in a row for the first time since 1982. The Jazz usually thrives at home against Golden State, winning 8 of their last 9 meetings with the Warriors at EnergySolutions Arena, but can they keep up with the rolling Warriors?
Key to the Game: With two of the best point guards in the league on display tonight, look for the fleet-footed matchup of Monta Ellis v. Deron Williams. There’s going to be a showdown in Salt Lake City tonight.
Oakland, CA (Sports Network) – Monta Ellis led a balanced attack with 21 points, as the Golden State Warriors took down the New Orleans Hornets, 102-89. Dorell Wright and David Lee each added 16 points for the Warriors, who have won two in a row and six of eight overall. Stephen Curry and Vladimir Radmanovic tallied 14 and 13 points, respectively.
“We’ve been known to have some great performances then have a let down right after,” Curry said. “So for us to come out and not start the way we wanted to, but we found a way to stay in the game, our defense kept us in it all night. For us to get a win like that is huge for us especially before the All-Star break. We get another chance tomorrow to get a big win where we’ve struggled up in Utah. I’m looking forward to that opportunity.”
David West finished with 15 points and seven rebounds for the Hornets, who have dropped eight of 10. Marco Belinelli chipped in with 15 points off the bench. Chris Paul was limited to 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting in defeat.
It was actually the Hornets who controlled things early on. New Orleans scored the game’s first seven points and led 32-22 after 12 minutes. The visitors maintained control until there was eight minutes left in the half. Trailing 43-32, the Warriors put together a 15-3 run to go in front. Ellis tallied seven points during the stretch, including a three-pointer with 3:43 to go, to make it 47-46.
Golden State ended the frame on a 9-2 spurt to take a 58-53 lead into the locker room. The Hornets actually went in front early in the third, but the Warriors used an 11-2 run to take the lead back for good. Curry made a pair of three- pointers during the burst, which Lee capped with a three-point play for a 71-63 margin with 6:11 remaining.
Golden State, which led 83-71 after three, started the fourth on an 11-3 flurry to put the game away. Charlie Bell’s trey made it 94-74, and it was a double-digit game the rest of the way.
“We haven’t played at a high enough level defensively to compete,” West said.
The Warriors took two of three from the Hornets this season…Curry went 5- of-5 from the field and made all three of his three-point attempts…Golden State went 10-of-19 from three-point range, while New Orleans went 3-of-10 from beyond the arc.
After a few weeks of trade talks that had fans choosing sides between Team Monta Ellis versus Team Stephen Curry, this week was more about the actual game. The Warriors had the weirder of weeks, unexpectedly beating two playoff bound teams in the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder. But between those two surprising wins was a blowout at the hands of the Phoenix Suns on the road with the Warriors reverting back to the team that you never thought could, would, or should ever beat the Nuggets or the Thunder, regardless of who was available (Chauncey Billups was out for the Nuggets).
It's the same story as it's been for weeks. Imagine going to 6-Flags Great America (or whatever theme park is near you) and since no one's around, you get to ride each ride like 10 times (yes, even the Vortex or Top Gun). Anyway, by the 10th time, you're probably predicting every turn and whiplash moment. You're bracing yourself for the pain and you know it's coming so it's no surprise. By the end of that 10th trip, you find bumper cars pleasing. Well, that's how these "defining" Warrior games feel that the Warriors keep having week-to-week after stumbling when they probably shouldn't be. The excitement is all gone because you just know what's going to happen next and it isn't pretty.
In the previous week, the Warriors stopped the Bulls and MVP candidate Derrick Rose -- frustrating him into 9 turnovers -- but proceeded to let the Phoenix Suns, a team with a far worse record and arguably worse of a bench, steamroll them with 13-three pointers. Well, this week began and proceeded just like the previous week, with the Warriors letting Channing Frye look more like the more determined power forward that he used to back up in Portland in LaMarcus Aldridge. The Suns shot over 50% from the field and made 12 3-pointers, one less than the previous time they met the Warriors.
With the Warriors of late, they're either really good or really bad. And versus the Suns, you know they were really bad. But when it was good, it was rainbows, sunbeams, and flowers. Against the Thunder, Monta and Curry combined for 56 points and 20 assists against 4 turnovers. David Lee snapped out of a short funk, scoring 23 and grabbing 19 boards. Udoh played 27 minutes and set some great screens, one huge weakness of the Warriors if you haven't noticed yet. In the Nuggets game, the Warriors shot over 50% from the field and from 3-point land. At least we know what the recipe to the Warrior success is?
After witnessing these three games (or bits of them at least), I echo San Francisco Examiner's contributor Tim Liota, who today said regarding the Warrior's recent play:
They are so far from being any good, so far from threatening teams that are championship contenders. A winning streak here, or a nice win there, sure, but this team feels light years from the championship conversation.
The Warriors are worse than a team in need of a new start. They're a team lacking a place from which to start. Pin their problems on Don Nelson, who left them in September with this team possessing less than a mismatched roster. He left them without any combination of players that could legitimately serve the Warriors' uniform as the hope for a new beginning.
What do you make of the Warriors recent inconsistencies?
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