When the Warriors players described the Utah Jazz grind-out win, they talked proudly about how unlike last season, they’re not giving up so early in the game when opponents make their runs against them.
Well, the last two road games have been exemplary of this new attitude, except the Warrior have struggled to actually close out games. Instead of giving up, the Warriors are letting their opponents creep back into games.
But after blowing a 17 point lead, the Warriors didn’t let this one slip away, defeating the Toronto Raptors 109-102 and getting their first road win (including preseason) since last season’s finale against the Portland Trailblazers. Perhaps they won’t be blowing bad teams out, but at least they won.
After sitting comfortably by 17 midway through the 3rd quarter behind the backcourt bromance of Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, the Warriors continue to shoot themselves in the foot with yet another lapse in concentration as they collectively began to turn the ball over much like the night before in Detroit. Telegraphed passes and several questionable charge calls against Ellis, Curry, and David Lee helped get the Raptors back in the game. In the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, the Warriors committed 6 turnovers.
But Stephen Curry, after re-tweaking his ankle on a dribble drive in the second quarter, became "The Closer" as if he was Kyra Sedgwick. With an array of spin moves, jumpers, cross-overs, runners…whatever button you press on your Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 controller to do an amazing move, Curry scored in almost every which way possible on every single Toronto defender. Curry nailed a jumper with Jarrett Jack’s hand in his face, extending the lead lead once against to seven with less than a minute safely securing the Warriors first road win. Curry finished with 34 points with the bulk of this points coming in the final quarter. But he also had 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
In spite of their first road win, it may be bittersweet. The Warriors are currently waiting to hear about Ellis’ injury evaluation. Driving to the basket late in the fourth, Ellis’ missed his reverse and landed awkwardly on his feet but with his back arched completely horizontal to the floor. As the Raptors raced in the opposite direction, Ellis laid motionless until the Warriors called timeout. Trainer Tom Abdenour helped Ellis off the court but it was clear that he could not walk or stand on his own. Rusty Simmons Tweets that it may be a left hip issue whereas Marcus Thompson Tweets its might be a hyperextended knee or leg just based on their observations.
Up until then, Ellis and Curry had been leading the Warriors scoring. In the end, they accounted for 62 points on 22 of 38 shooting. The Warriors were winning the battle of the boards in the first half, controlling the tempo with offensive rebounding. The Warriors finished the game shooting 53%, a huge improvement over the last two games.
Off the bench, Sonny Weems provided a much needed spark off the bench for a lackadaisical Toronto team. For most of the game, former number one pick Andrea Bargnani was completely ineffective on both ends of the floor (1 rebound) and Linus Kleiza and Jarret Jack struggled to find their stroke as well. But Weems found some easy buckets in transitions, in large part due to the Warriors poor passing, which seem to ignite his fellow teammates. The Warriors defensive effort quickly disappeared as they allowed the Raptors to draw fouls on dribble drives, fouling out David Lee and putting Andris Biedrins in foul trouble as well.
Leandro Barbosa also got in on the action late in the game, finishing with 7 points. Linus Kleiza also contributed during the fourth quarter surge, ending with 20 points and 7 boards.