Rewind: Warriors win with another testament to defense

Rewind: Warriors win with another testament to defense
February 7, 2014, 8:45 am
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Harrison Barnes led the Warriors with a plus-20 differential in 29 minutes. (USATSI)

OAKLAND -- The pattern remains the same, an unsightly loss followed by a refreshing victory.

This time, however, there was a twist, the Warriors coming through without their formidable back-line defender and their most consistent inside scorer.

With Andrew Bogut and David Lee in the roles of wounded spectators, the Warriors responded to perhaps their worst loss of the season with three superb quarters on Thursday, taking a 102-87 victory over the Chicago Bulls before a sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.

Three quarters of outstanding basketball is enough on most nights in the NBA -- particularly when it's the final three quarters.

After falling behind by 13 (29-16) in the first quarter, the Warriors snapped out of their stupor, sprinkling the remainder of the game with plenty of timely defensive pressure and some spectacular work by point guard Stephen Curry.

"We defended," Mark Jackson said after his 100th coaching victory. "They shot 60 percent in the first quarter and 35 percent the rest of the way. We battled, made multiple effort plays and I'm proud of my guys for that."

[RECAP: Warriors 102, Bulls 87]

The Warriors (30-20) forced seven Chicago turnovers in the second quarter, resulting in 10 points as they took a 50-46 lead at the half. The two players with the most floor time in the quarter, forwards Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green, were especially disruptive forces.

But the show-stopper was Curry, who scored 16 points in a little more than seven minutes, using his usual variety of 3-pointers from the hinterlands, driving floaters and scoop shots. He finished with a game-high 34 points on 13 of 19 shooting.

Such an effort is particularly impressive, given Chicago's defensive mentality.

"A guy like that, you can't guard individually; you've got to guard him with your team," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "What you try to do is make him work for his points. He has the ability to make a tough shot when he's guarded well."

Curry has made a habit lately of rescuing wounded -- or slumping -- teammates. With Lee on the bench and getting little help from Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Iguodala last week, Curry stung Utah for 44 points. With Lee and Bogut on the bench Thursday, he bit the Bulls.

"The great ones understand when other guys are struggling," Jackson said.

Thompson was an able sidekick on Thursday, scoring 22 points on 8 of 16 shooting. Iguodala tap-danced all over the stat sheet: 7 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals. And Barnes was the key closer, with 11 fourth-quarter points after being held scoreless through the first three.

"It's great to see a young guy make plays and establish confidence and a rhythm," Jackson said. "I believe in him and he's going to play. I believe he's going to have some big moments for us."

Barnes was needed on this night. Without Bogut and Lee, everyone was needed. Two nights have a humbling loss to the sub-mediocre Charlotte Bobcats, the Warriors did what they often to do.

[RELATED: Lee, Bogut out for Warriors]

They pulled themselves together and made the next opponent pay.

THE GOOD: The defense, led by Iguodala and Green, was stifling over the final three quarters, particularly the third, when the Bulls shot 29.6 percent. The Warriors made 11 of their 22 3-point attempts,

Curry was fabulous, Barnes was magnificent in the fourth quarter and Jordan Crawford had some nice moments.

THE BAD: Not having Lee (left shoulder sprain, left hip strain) and Bogut (left shoulder inflammation).

And the Dubs got off to another slow start, prompting Jackson to call a timeout less than five minutes into the game.

THE TAKE: This was, I believe, Lesson No. 483 in the value of defense. It fueled yet another comeback, and the Warriors continue to grasp how essential it is to consistently good basketball. This much they should know for certain: When times are tough, Curry is the team's most reliable individual, the man most likely to rise to the occasion. He did it again.

 

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