The Warriors have now defeated both Oklahoma City and the L.A. Clippers at home in the same week. They continue to cruise along at a 52-win pace without their franchise center, key bench swingman and more. They're a very good team and will be a very good team until the end.
That said, I would be careful to draw too many meaningful conclusions from this one. Some strange, strange things happened, from Kevin Durant going cold late, Russell Westbrook playing his worst game of the season and Kendrick Perkins doing Perkins things to kill his team. The Warriors did well to stay with the Thunder but, if a couple plays go the way they normally do, we wouldn't be talking about this game in the same way. Also, keep in mind that the Thunder got an emotional win against the Clippers the night before, whereas the Warriors had off.
I did want to focus on Stephen Curry's game-sealing steal because I think it illustrates misplaced blame.
Down two with 17 seconds left, the Thunder buck the trend and run an actual play on a sideline out of bounds. Durant catches the inbounds pass and Perkins immediately comes over to set the screen. One of two things can happen here. Either Durant gets free for a game-tying baseline jumper, or he gets trapped and Perkins rolls to the rim for a dunk. Ultimately, the Warriors trap, and Perkins has a wide-open lane to roll to the rim for a dunk.
Look at this screenshot:
Curry is well behind the play as Durant is looking to pass. If Perkins does his job and runs hard to the rim, Durant throws the pass in front of him for the dunk. Instead, notice Perkins' locationa when Curry steps in front of Durant's pass to steal it.
Perkins has only moved one step, which allows Curry to sneak in.
After the game, most of the conversation either blamed Durant for a bad pass or credited Curry for a heads-up play. But is that fair? Does Curry deserve ultimate credit? Does Durant deserve ultimate blame?
It's an interesting question. It's true that Durant did throw the pass where Perkins was rather than where Perkins should have been. However, knowing how much Durant's court vision has improved, I'm confident he would have made the right play if Perkins cut harder to the basket. Instead, Perkins' violation of the cardinal rule -- when nobody is on you, go to the front of the rim -- cost the Thunder a potential win.
As for Westbrook: his decision-making was horrendous, but the Warriors also did a really good job of containing him in the pocket at the free-throw line extended without allowing drives to the rim or dishes to the man in the strongside corner. Golden State still doesn't have the most gifted defenders, but continues to more than make up the gap with excellent schemes.
The Raptors keep inventing new ways to lose. It'd be funny if it weren't so sad. In this game, they wasted an unbelievable effort for 48 minutes because they let Alan Anderson take eight of their 10 shots in overtime. Anderson has carved out a decent niche as an OK spot-up shooter, the kind of player the Spurs always scoop up for the minimum. He should not be taking eight shots in overtime.
The worst part? Anderson took so many different kinds of shots. Here's a breakdown, via MySynergySports.com:
- Four spot-ups.
- One pick and roll, ball handler.
- One post-up.
- One play off a screen.
- One pick and roll, roll man.
Whether the play was called for Anderson or someone else, he always ended up with it. This is how bad teams stay bad.
The Heat, meanwhile, put together a typical Miami regular-season effort. Don't worry about them.
Darrell Arthur was the best big man on the floor tonight. The Lakers are hilarious in so, so many ways.
Houston's a mess right now. The Rockets committed 22 turnovers and demonstrated absolutely no ability to construct a viable offense beyond "go do things, James Harden/other guard." Kevin McHale needs to get ahold of his team before it's too late.
Spurs 106, Hornets 102
An unfortunate defeat for the Hornets because they played so well for most of the game. A Greivis Vasquez three put them up one with 5:52 remaining, but the Spurs scored 16 of the next 19 points to wrestle control back.
Tiago Splitter had 25 in this one. He's quietly grown into a really good big man.
Blazers 100, Pacers 80
Once you jump ahead of the Pacers early, it's pretty much over. They aren't coming back from big deficits with that offense.
Portland kind of figured out the magic formula to spreading the Pacers' defense out and attacking it. If I'm an Eastern Conference competitor, I'm watching this tape to try to pick up things to add to my playbook when the Pacers come to town.
The Nets raced way ahead early and spent the rest of the game holding off the Timberwolves' many comeback attempts. If this game extended longer than 48 minutes, the Timberwolves could have easily come back. Alas, it ended after 48.
No, Stacey King, I don't like my meatballs spicy.
The Wizards rolled over for two and a half quarters, made a strange rally late, then rolled over again when the game got tight. If all is right with the world, neither team comes away happy with the way it played in this one.
The Kings shot 48 percent from the field, grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and hit 45 percent from downtown ... and lost because they committed 24 turnovers. Don't rewatch this game.
Thirty points, 13 rebounds and eight assists for Josh Smith in this one. Sure, he had seven turnovers, and this was the Bobcats, but this is the Smith the Hawks have desperately needed all year. Why he hasn't played well, I don't know.