Rewind: 76ers provide perfect tonic for ailing Warriors

Rewind: 76ers provide perfect tonic for ailing Warriors
February 11, 2014, 10:15 am
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Andre Iguodala was one of six Warriors to score in double figures against the 76ers. (USATSI)

OAKLAND -- With all the whining and aching and moaning, some of it reaching the level of hysteria, the Warriors needed an elixir. They found one in the 76ers.

Their 123-80 win over Philadelphia on Monday was an example of a team taking out its frustrations on a very accommodating punching bag. The Sixers are essentially three or four players surrounded by guys with dubious NBA credentials.

Their visit to Oracle Arena was a perfect tonic for the Warriors (31-21) on no fewer than four levels.

One, there was the threadbare Warriors roster, with both centers, Andrew Bogut and Jermaine O'Neal, sidelined with injuries.

Two, it provided a cheerful sideshow to the mini-drama between coach Mark Jackson's pregame new conference, his off-hand comment about how Bogut may have sustained his shoulder injury and Bogut's expressed annoyance with Jackson's off-hand comment.

[RELATED: Jackson fires back at media: 'Don't twist my words']

Three, it temporarily quelled the constant local caterwauling about the struggles of the Warriors, who had been 6-8 since their 10-game win streak a month ago.

And, four, it met Jackson's deep and profound need to rout an opponent, any opponent, to create space between his seat and the agitated mob trying to crank up the heat beneath it.

[RATTO: Jackson-Bogut spat a harbinger for Warriors coach?]

"We've struggled at times against teams we are supposed to beat," Jackson said. "We own that and accept that. It's part of our development. Tonight we made the proper adjustments and handled our business."

While this giggler hardly cured all that troubles the Warriors, it was a brief respite from the storm. Do you even wish to consider for a minute to outcry had the Dubs won a squeaker or even invented a way to lose?

[RELATED: Warriors 123, 76ers 80]

There was at least one player who might want to frame this game. Reserve power forward Marreese Speights, pressed into heavy service by the absences of Bogut and O'Neal, responded with the game of his career: 32 points (on 12 of 15 shooting), eight rebounds and three blocks.

"He was fabulous," Jackson said of the former 76er.

"It was like being at a great rock concert," said Lee, returned to the lineup after a two-game absence and posted 13 points and 13 rebounds. "Just the barrage of interior and exterior moves -- the creativity."

Speights was on such an offensive high, the Oracle crowd offered "M-V-P" chants.

"Because we are his former team, we obviously knew he was going to come out with some energy," Philly forward Evan Turner said. "He had an awesome game and just opened up the floodgates."

THE GOOD: This was an old-fashioned woodshedding of a poor, tired team of individuals dreaming about their plans for the long weekend. No matter. The Warriors needed a dose of joy. It had been a month since the Warriors had beaten a team by 20, more than three since they'd beaten anybody by 30 and more than 11 years since they'd clobbered anybody by 43.

So, stiff shots of Muy Bravado for every Warrior in uniform -- and two for Speights.

THE BAD: Even in such a lopsided game, there were spells of sloppy offensive play, causing some of the Warriors' 18 turnovers. Curry (7-of-11) and Speights aside, the shooting was ugly: 38.7 percent.

THE TAKE: The Warriors were without their starting center and his backup, spurring their wounded starting power forward (Lee) to push his limits. Victory over this Philly team may be no great accomplishment, but a loss would have been devastating. So the Dubs, weakened themselves, quickly removed that possibility. They remorselessly jumped a weaker member of the NBA flock, and they haven't always done that. Take it, allow Speights his night, and move on.