If there had to be a word that epitomized the Warriors road trip, it would be "self-destruction."
For the third straight night, the Warriors looked the part of a dominant playoff team. At one point going up 19 halfway through the third quarter, the Warriors let the New York Knicks get back into the game with poor defense, putting the Knicks on the line 43 times compared to the Warriors 32. The Knicks also made 17 more free throws than the Warriors. Controlling the boards for three quarters, a re-energized Knicks team out-hustled the Warriors at the end of the game, out-rebounding them 41-36.
But in spite of the one and a half quarter lapse in concentration, the Warriors put together a strong enough defensive effort in the final two minutes. Leading by one, the Warriors stopped the Knicks in spite of them securing 3rd-chance points, racing to the opposite end for an easy layup by Dorell Wright.
With 16 seconds left and the game seemingly in the bag as the Warriors sat on a 5 point lead, the Knicks closed the gap to 1 in a span of 3 seconds by hitting a technical free throw and Stoudemire hitting a 3-point shot just moments later. After burning two timeouts to in-bound the ball, Monta Ellis made two free throw. After a Wilson Chandler missed three point attempt, Lee was fouled after the rebound which safely put the game away with 1.2 seconds left to play to pull out a 122-117 victory.
David Lee led the way for the Warriors in an emotional return which the jumbo tron showed a tribute to Lee for his game and his efforts off the court in the community. Lee finished with 29 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 steals. His teammates looked for him early on as he had 3 dunks early in the first quarter, which he howled in the face of Timothy Mosgov on two occasions. Lee’s had no empathy for teammates as he knocked out two of former teammate Wilson Chandler’s teeth, as they got tangled going for a rebound. An extended timeout during the third quarter was needed to find Chandler’s two teeth, which Chandler had actually spit out himself, and Lee needed attention from trainer Tom Abdenour to bandage up the inadvertent bite marks. In the fourth quarter, camera shots showed bleeding through the bandages.
Amar’e’s matador defense could only be matched by David Lee as Amar'e pounded the ball into him and Dre Biedrins inside easily to the tune of 33 points and 10 boards. Raymond Felton led the charge beginning in the third quarter, finishing the game with 20 points and 6 assists. Chandler, in spite of missing a tooth, had 27 points, with 4 three pointers off 10 attempts.
Although Ellis started the game, it seemed that the fourth quarter now belongs to Stephen Curry as he put the Warriors on his shoulders once again directing traffic and scoring enough to keep up with the Knicks resurgent offense. Much like against the Utah Jazz and the Toronto Raptors, Curry closed out the fourth, with Ellis deferring, finishing the game with 25 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists. SBNation Bay Area editor Avinash Kunnath described Monta Ellis as Invincible and he was just that, playing through what was evaluated by doctors as a back strain. Ellis didn’t shoot his best, but finished the game with a steady 22 points and 6 assists with one of those assists coming at a crucial juncture in the fourth, hitting a wide open Reggie Williams on the break for an easy layup.
Oddly, the Warriors seemed the more dominant team throughout the game in spite of the self-destruction in the third and fourth quarter. Throughout the game, the Warriors seemed to take the Knicks out of rhythm, pulling away with short leads of 5 to 9 points, only to let the Knicks tie the game by giving them driving and passing lanes. Even during the fourth as the Knicks took a one-point lead, the Warriors seemed to steady themselves, playing solid defense for enough possessions at the end of the game.
At the end of the day, the Warriors won the game and David Lee got his redemption, albeit the hard way with a punctured left arm. Hopefully this will not be too much of a distraction for their next road game. The Warriors are now 2-1 on their 5 game road trip.