1. Clearly rankled by their poor defensive showing in a season opening loss to the Houston Rockets the Golden State Warriors wanted to make a statement to prove that they are still a force to reckoned with on that side of the ball. Behind a seven block night to go along with 22 points and 8 boards from reigning Finals MVP Kevin Durant the Warriors were able to do just that as they held off the scrappy New Orleans Pelicans to get their first victory of the season. The fact that Durant was able to play such a balanced game on both ends very well may have been the saving grace for the Dubs.
Durant got his 22 on 50% shooting from the floor as well as from deep. Despite him conducting his very own block party his defense on the perimeter in spots wasn’t absent. This is what makes the prospect of going up against KD so intimidating, he can defend every position on the floor and can still contribute if not control on offense. The decision to play KD at the 4 is clearly working out just fine.
2. While Durant did an amazing job having his hands all over the game it’s fair to say he had a little help. Klay Thompson sensing a pretty liberal approach to guarding him led the Warriors with 31 points on 12 of 19 shooting with 7 of 12 from deep. Although not providing much in the way of stat sheet candy he did a great job in making sure an already weakened Pelican backcourt didn’t pull any tricks out if the bag. After a pretty rough start Stephen Curry regrouped to drop 28 points and 8 dimes. Curry proved crucial as it seemed like everytime the Pels appeared to come roaring back he hit a shot or flung a pass leading to a score that kept a comfortable distance.
Draymond “Dae Dae” Green had quite the eventful night being that he was tasked with guarding Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins. Things got heated between the two in the second quarter resulting in a technical foul for Green. However, it could be argued that Dray won the battle. Sure his statline paled in comparison to Cousins going 10-5-9 but he rattled Boogie into 5 fouls and a tech himself causing very cautious play from the mercurial big man in the late stages of this close game.
With Zaza Pachulia fouling out in 20 minutes providing 8 and 9 before his departure it was up to the reserve frontcourt crew of David West, JaVale McGee and rookie Jordan Bell to keep everything moving in the paint for the defending champs. West was the only other Warrior in double figure scoring 11 in 12 minutes. McGee and Bell filled in nicely combining for 6 and 6. Andre “Iggy” Iguodala put up 7-7-4 in 23 minutes while Shaun Livingston grabbed 5 boards and defended well in his 15 minutes. Some may posit that this was a game they should have won running away, but I see a quality, hard fought win from a group that is figuring out how to fill one of the few holes they have.
3. The Boogie and Brow show was in full effect last night, and it was almost enough for them to steal a win over the champs. The duo went for 35 a piece and gave the Dubs all they could handle. Anthony “Brow” Davis got off to a fast start scoring 12 in the first quarter as the Pels shot out to a 13 point lead at the end of the first. Davis sweet stroke was on full display as he went 15 for 21 from the field along with 3 of 4 from deep. He also contributed 17 boards, 5 assists, a pair of steals and a block. Boogie on the other had took a far more arduous approach to reach his numbers. Cousins shot a less impressive 11 of 23 and 3 of 8 on three point attempts but Boogie lived at the line going 10 of 13 while grabbing 14 boards, tossing 5 dimes and snatching 4 steals himself. These two impressed as per usual but that isn’t the issue with this team is it?
Dealing with the loss of Rajon Rondo for the time being the Pels find their already thin backcourt in a pretty dire situation. With Jrue Holliday back at starting point guard for the moment he seems to still have issues with his shot falling as he fought his way to 13 points on 5 of 16 shooting as well as facilitating finishing with 4 assists to 2 turnovers. Speaking of shots not falling Dante Cunningham 6 and 5 on 2 of 8 from the floor and E’Twaun Moore went scoreless in his 26 minutes missing all five attempts. However, Ian Clark and Jordan Crawford came in handy with scoring 14 and 13 respectively on a combined 10 of 17 shooting.
Unfotunately it wasn’t enough. Despite their early struggles the Dubs shooting splits were 52-45-80 (in 20 free throw attempts). After the strong first quarter they slowly loosened their grasp and the Warriors got into their comfort zone. Except as opposed to reeling off a 23-0 run they chipped away until they eventually gained control of the game. But there are problems with this. Tony Allen aside (who really had no effect last night) there are no true blue backcourt defenders and tasking so much of this to AD risks putting him in foul trouble and frankly that’s Boogie’s job. There was a lot to like about this performance but if this s to be a team contending for a playoff spot there are a lot of issues that need ot be solved right away. Hopefully they have made a step in the right direction with the recent signing of Jameer Nelson.