The Golden State Warriors, it turns out, don't need Stephen Curry. They've got Draymond Green.
Jokes! The Warriors need the MVP, but they can still play great basketball without him, especially when Green takes over. He led the Warriors to a roller coaster 109-105 overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. It was win No. 54 on the season to keep the Warriors on an NBA-record pace even with Curry sitting out with a sore left ankle.
Green had 15 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. He came up big down the stretch and in overtime with stifling defensive plays and game-changing shots on a night when the Warriors needed him badly. Klay Thompson had 26 points, but on 8-of-27 shooting. The Warriors couldn't buy a bucket, making just 39.8 percent of their shots.
The Hawks' defense stifled the Warriors in the second half, holding Golden State to a mere 38 points in the third and fourth quarters. Paul Millsap had 19 points and seven rebounds and Dennis Schroder had 17 points and nine assists, but the Hawks couldn't quite get over the hump though they came oh-so-close.
The Warriors pushed their regular season home winning streak to 43 games, one short of the Bulls' all-time record, thanks to a desperation shot by Green to beat the shot clock in Oakland.
Draymond Green connects on a huge three pic.twitter.com/OK0KJsyn6m— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) March 2, 2016
Green was only 6-of-15 from the field, but with Curry out he ran the offense while still turning in a defensive effort for the ages.
The Hawks took the lead in the fourth quarter, but Green wouldn't let the Warriors lose. He hit a bucket with a foul and then stepped up defensively like he always does.
The Warriors -- and Green -- are prideful even when Curry isn't on the court. They had many opportunities to put the Hawks away, but their shooting failed them again and again. They never folded, however -- not that anyone expected the defending champs to do so. The Hawks, to their credit, shut the Warriors down in the second half. But the Warriors showed that they do not lose easily -- even when their MVP is out.
That's because they have another star.
2 other things we learned
The Chicago Bulls' defensive woes are even worse than we thought
The Miami Heat couldn't miss, not that the Chicago Bulls were making it very difficult. The Heat hit 52-of-77 from the field to shoot a franchise record 67.5 percent as they coasted to an easy 129-111 win over a once daunting Bulls defense. It was the latest in a string of extremely poor defensive performances by the Bulls, who have given up more than 100 points in 14 straight games.
Everyone scored for the Heat. Hassan Whiteside led the way with 26 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in 33 minutes off the bench. Joe Johnson, who has fit in nicely in his two games with the Heat, had 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Luol Deng and Dwyane Wade added 20 and 18, respectively.
Not too long ago, the Bulls played defense. At a glance, in fact, it appears they still do -- the Bulls have the NBA's twelfth-best defensive rating in the NBA, giving up 102.6 points per 100 possessions. A closer look, however, shows the Bulls defense is slipping, and badly.
At the end of 2015 they had the NBA's fourth-best defensive rating, giving up just 98.7 points per 100 possessions. In 2016, however, the Bulls have imploded. Since Jan. 1, their defensive rating is 106.7, which ranks No. 21 in the league in that span. They're 12-17 in the new year.
It doesn't help that Jimmy Butler has missed 11 of the last 12 games or that Joakim Noah has been out for all but four games since December 21, but the Bulls' defensive woes have them slipping out of the playoffs. At 30-29, the Bulls wouldn't be in the postseason if the season ended today.
Fred Hoiberg's first year as coach hasn't gone the way he imagined. Under Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls at least had an identity as a tough defensive squad. The Bulls can't figure out who they are right now.
Nothing against Damian Lillard, but C.J. McCollum is a stud, too
The Portland Trail Blazers were too good for the New York Knicks. Thanks to the backcourt duo of Lillard (30 points) and McCollum (25), they sprinted to an easy 104-85 win. The two make up one of the most dynamic backcourts in the league, putting themselves in the conversation with the Splash Brothers. They both light up the scoreboard in bursts. Lillard had 24 points in the first half, 14 of which came in a three-minute period. Then McCollum took over in the third quarter with a seven-point spurt of his own.
The Knicks are in shambles, so it's hard to take too much from one game, but the Blazers' consistency over several games potentially makes them special. And while Lillard is playing at a high level, McCollum isn't that far behind. Since Jan. 1, Lillard is averaging 26.5 points per game. McCollum is putting up 20.6 per game in that span.
Play of the night
D'Angelo Russell drains his 8th three and HAS ICE IN HIS VEINS. pic.twitter.com/1UpCUnWeb0— Drew Garrison (@DrewGarrisonSBN) March 2, 2016
The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets were the undercard to the undercard on Tuesday night, but D'Angelo Russell had the best game of his career to lead the Lakers to a 107-101 win. Russell made eight threes on his way to a career high 39 points, including this clutch shot to clinch the game.
3 fun things
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Clutch Shot: Draymond Green channels Steph Curry for big 3-pointer
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