This past week the Warriors went on a five game road trip, three of which were against playoff teams well over .500
The Warriors started the trip with six straight road losses, hoping to turn things around. Their first stop was on Sunday afternoon when they visited the Timberwolves. The Wolves were only 13-13 on their home floor, and had lost both times they faced the Warriors this season. Kevin Love sat this game out as he continues to recover from surgery he had on his hand. The Wolves started the game hot, as they outscored the Warriors 32-18 in the first quarter and also led at halftime. The Warriors would bounce back, making it a close game all the way to the final seconds. Ahead 100-99, Jarrett Jack missed a jump shot leaving the Wolves with just under eight seconds to forge a victory. Luke Ridnour brought the ball down the court himself, his team with two timeouts left, but missed a desperation runner near the baseline. David Lee recorded a double double this game with 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Derrick Williams had one himself with 23 points and 12 rebounds. It should be said that Jack had kept the Warriors in this game, though. He played more minutes than Stephen Curry, led the team in points with 23, shot 8-19 including 5-7 three pointers and 2-2 free throws. Not to mention his eight assists and five rebounds, oh, and his plus-minus was +15 too. Keep him in mind when you start hearing Sixth Man of the Year talks.
Two days later, the Warriors would next play the rolling Pacers, who had won seven of their last nine, in a hostile Bankers Life Fieldhouse. This game was practically tied until the Pacers went on a 20-3 run near the end of the 2nd quarter. Then, as the Warriors started to close in before halftime, Stephen Curry crossed up George Hill, making him fall around the foul line. Hill tripped up Curry, fouling him to save a basket. Indiana really started pulling away in the second half, where they have a 32-4 record while ahead after three quarters.
Curry had an impressive night, though, leading the Warriors with 38 points that came from 14-20 shooting, 7-10 from beyond the arc, four assists, three steals, and two boards. Despite his performance, the real story occurred in the 4th quarter, when a benches clearing fight broke out, featuring David Lee and Roy Hibbert. At the 6:10 mark, David West missed a turn around shot from the block, but while the ball was still in the air, Lee and Hibbert started shoving each other. Curry tried to come over and contain Hibbert, but got thrown down and the mob of players spilled into some seats. A total of five players were issued technical fouls: Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, David West, David Lee, then Roy Hibbert got ejected from the game from a second technical. Both Lee and Hibbert would be suspended for one game each as well. The Warriors found their first loss this trip 108-97.
This fight would prove to be disastrous for the Warriors in having David Lee miss a game, especially when it’s the next night against his former team, the New York Knicks, who have the second best record in the Eastern Conference.
Without their All-Star power forward, the Warriors didn’t have anyone to cover Tyson Chandler. Well, they do have seven footer Andris Biedrins, but let’s just say it wouldn’t be him either. Chandler dominated the boards in the 1st quarter, bringing down 13 rebounds all by himself. With Lee out, Curry would step up big time to keep the Warriors in this game. I thought he shot well against Indiana, but he literally could not miss in the Garden. He played every minute of the game and ended up with 54 points from 18-28 field goals, a near perfect 11-13 from downtown, breaking the franchise record of nine that Dorell Wright made two seasons ago, 7-7 free throws, seven assists, six rebounds, and three steals.
In the final minutes of the game, it was still close and both teams continued to exchange the lead. The game was just about over when Jarrett Jack got called for a traveling violation, after which Carmelo Anthony hit a turn around jump shot to seal the deal. Festus Ezeli made a weak inbounds pass and Raymond Felton stole the ball. On the last desperation chance for the Warriors, Klay Thompson, who struggled hard to find his shot all night, and had been crummy against Minnesota and Indiana, missed two three pointers as time expired. The Warriors fell short 109-105.
During the Knicks game, I, like many other Warriors fans I’m sure, was badly missing David Lee. I couldn’t help but think maybe we could have come away with the win if he didn’t get suspended for a fight that wasn’t even his fault. Then I read this article from Grantland explaining how bad of an interior defender Lee was. I guess I have never really noticed this, but I made sure to pay special attention to his defense during the Celtics game.
Two more days later, after a much needed break, the Warriors arrived in Boston to play the Celtics who are 20-9 at home. The Celtics themselves had just wrapped up a five game road trip, too, apparent as both teams looked a little tired this game. Avery Bradley made it his mission to shut down Stephen Curry, and Courtney Lee endorsed that saying Curry will not score 54 points in TD Garden. Curry only had two looks in the 1st quarter, first missing an off balanced mid-range jumper but then sinking a three pointer. Paul Pierce had a great quarter, posting 13 of Boston’s 31 points, and adding three assists and three defensive rebounds. Pierce would finish with 26 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. I thought David Lee played well facing up against Kevin Garnett. Lee had 19 rebounds, more than anyone else in the game, but did not shoot very well. A tired Stephen Curry still led the team with 25 points, though 10 of those were from free throws, and six assists. Again, the game was close until the 3rd quarter, where the Celtics saw the Warriors lead and went on a 9-2 run and went up by seven going into the 4th quarter. The Warriors would go on to lose 94-86 as they shot poorly trying to beat the Celtics’ second half zone defense.
The last game of the road trip was against the Sixers, on the 51st anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. The Sixers went into Saturday riding a seven game losing streak; the Warriors looked to prolong this and end their own trip on a lighter note. Nick Young did not play, Andrew Bynum did not play because of swelling in the right knee that has hindered him since he was traded to Philadelphia, and the former Warrior Jason Richardson sat because of surgery on his knee also. Richardson will miss the remainder of the season.
The Warriors looked refreshed, seizing the lead early and retained possession with some nice rebounding. Festus Ezeli got the start and helped when it came to grabbing boards. Royal Ivey had a bit of trouble guarding Stephen Curry and let him score 13 points and dish out two assists in the 1st quarter. The Sixers spent the 2nd quarter trying to shave down the Warriors lead, and they managed to make it a three point game at halftime. Philadelphia finally went ahead late in the 3rd quarter after Dorell Wright came on, and he and Evan Turner made it a ball game. The Warriors’ record when leading at halftime is 24-5, but only 8-23 when trailing after three quarters. Klay Thompson finally found his groove back this game but missed the shots he needed to hit in the 4th quarter. He also found difficulty containing Turner in the second half. Turner finished just shy of a triple double with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists. Wright forced Curry into a traveling violation with a minute left in the game, then Jrue Holiday sank a two pointer while being double covered. Carl Landry would miss a lay up to bring the Warriors within one possession, and on the other end of the floor Holiday made his lay up to sink the Warriors 104-97. In the end, Turner and Thaddeus Young had double doubles for the Sixers, and David Lee had one consisting of 13 points and 16 rebounds, plus seven assists. Curry and Thompson combined for 59 points, 22-38 shooting and 10-21 on three pointers.
Golden State finished their road trip with only one win followed by four straight losses. They are now 15-20 away from Oracle Arena this season and return home on Monday to begin a seven game homestand.
As for the playoff situation, the Warriors are still sixth in the West, one game ahead of the Rockets in eighth and 3.5 games up on the Lakers.