Rewind: Warriors show progress, earn ugly win

Rewind: Warriors show progress, earn ugly win
March 21, 2014, 7:45 am
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Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 60 points against the Bucks. (USATSI)

OAKLAND -- Maybe the Warriors were looking ahead to the Spurs, mighty as ever and the league's hottest team, who come into Oracle Arena on Saturday.

Maybe they're still trying to get the kinks out of their remade rotation, with Andre Iguodala and Jermaine O'Neal sitting out a few games.

Or maybe this was just one of those nights when everybody was prone to shocking lapses. Well, everybody except guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

And sometimes, Curry and Thompson are enough. They were on Thursday night, as the Warriors followed them through an alley longer and darker than they could have imagined before coming out with a 115-110 win over a Milwaukee team with the NBA's worst record.

[RECAP: Warriors tempt fate in narrow win over Bucks]

"Give them credit," coach Mark Jackson said of the plucky Bucks. "We hit them with overhand rights and left hooks to the body and they continued to get off the canvas and make plays."

The Warriors, unable to put away the Bucks, simply hung on until the clock ended the game.

"I wasn't thrilled with the way we played," said David Lee.

Curry was more accepting and even philosophical.

"Definitely happy about getting a win," he said. "We've struggled with games like this before. Obviously, we'd want it to be prettier and not give up 110 points. But we can learn these lessons in wins, rather than the other way around."

The individual numbers don't look so bad. Curry (31 points) and Thompson (29) combined for 60 points. Lee put in 22 on 9-of-11 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds. Andrew Bogut made four of his five shots and snared 12 rebounds. Jordan Crawford came off the bench for 12 points, on 5-of-8 shooting.

But the whole, on this night, was less impressive than the sum of the Warriors' individual parts. The Warriors won but left with some scars.

"As a coach, you are not going to be satisfied with giving up 35 points in the fourth quarter," Jackson said. "I'm not going to nitpick."

Maybe that's the right approach for a team franchise that in recent years was so familiar with nights like the Bucks experienced on Thursday. Curry and Thompson aside, the Warriors looked bad as often as they looked good.

And they left the arena 18 games over .500 for the first time since 1993-94.

"We are going to appreciate everything that we were able to accomplish as a team and as a unit because you can take it for granted," Jackson said. "There are people that are 19 years old that have never seen this. That's a wild moment.

"It's an incredible accomplishment. But we still have a long way to go."

Two sentences, equally true, that sum up an evening of forgettable moments with a memorable conclusion.

THE GOOD: Curry and Thompson, finding buckets when they were needed. Thompson hit a clutch 3-pointer with 38.3 seconds left to play. Curry had 14 in the fourth quarter, including 7-of-7 from the line.

Crawford was a difference-maker off the bench, with 12 points in 12 minutes.

THE BAD: The Warriors had more turnovers than the league's worst squad, with 15 giveaways to Milwaukee's 10.

The Warriors were mediocre inside, outscored 58-52 in the paint and gave up 14-second-chance points while scoring 10.

The epic struggles of Harrison Barnes continue. The second-year forward missed all seven of his shots, committed two turnovers and was beaten several times on defense.

[RELATED: 'Next level' continues to elude Barnes]

Communication issues were apparent on several occasions, most noticeably early in the fourth period when Bogut and Marreese Speights started jawing at each other after Ramon Sessions drove in for an easy layup that compelled Jackson to call a timeout.

The fourth quarter defense was atrocious, as the Bucks shot 61.1 percent.

THE TAKE: The Warriors shot well enough, got more rebounds and won the game -- yet did not look like a contender. They looked like a team that can win games without its best stuff. And that's what happened. They took advantage of an opponent that plays hard despite inferior talent and ground out a victory.

This is, given the franchise history, a sign of progress. And yet it felt more like survival than actual achievement.