Six weeks into season, Dubs finally look like beast of NBA originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Passes were crisp and timely and frequent. Once again. The pace was rapid and fluid, with shots often falling through the net as if pre-programmed. Once again.
And the defense, so problematic in the opening weeks, was again solid enough through three-plus quarters Sunday afternoon that the Warriors – at times – resembled the beast that bullied the NBA.
Providing the latest example that they are rekindling their fabled joy, Jordan Poole spent much of the game grinning as the Warriors rolled into downtown Minneapolis and immediately put their feet to the backsides of the Timberwolves for a tip-to-buzzer 137-114 victory.
“To get everybody playing well at the same time is great,” Draymond Green told reporters at Target Center. “We’re starting to put it together. If we can keep building at this rate, we’ll be poised for a run pretty soon.”
The Warriors have won eight of their last 11 games – and five of six since their team meeting on the morning of Nov. 18. The win lifted them above .500 for the first time in 30 days.
Though the Timberwolves rallied late, trimming a 20-point deficit to 10 midway through the fourth quarter, the Warriors never were in serious jeopardy and closed with a 19-6 run over the final 5:05.
Six players scored in double figures for the second consecutive game, led by Stephen Curry’s 25 points. Poole had 24, Klay Thompson 21, Green a season-high 19 and Andrew Wiggins 17. The 137 points are Golden State’s highest total this season.
“Like John Wooden once said, ‘It’s amazing what a team can do when no one cares who gets the credit,’” Thompson told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I feel like we personify that. Our style of play kind of reflects that statement.”
Golden State’s 36 assists represented the 13th game with a least 30, with five of those games coming in the last 10 days. In the five games aside from the giveaway loss on Nov. 21 in New Orleans, the Warriors are averaging 34.8 assists.
It’s apparent that the Warriors are reveling in their rediscovery of the thrills and benefits of the beautiful basketball that defined their years as clear lords of the league.
The Warriors wasted no time making a statement, taking a 40-17 lead eight minutes after tipoff and closing the first quarter with a 47-25 advantage.
“It was fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Draymond was pushing the ball like crazy, and we just had them on their heels. Even in semi-transition, after a made basket, Draymond was pushing it and Steph was pushing it. Wiggs. A lot of good stuff. That helped us take control of the game right away.”
Curry has been extraordinary all season and Wiggins has been superb, but the fact that Thompson and Poole have escaped their early-season struggles has made an appreciable difference.
While Thompson’s warming releases a modicum of pressure from Curry, Poole’s rise – concurrent with Draymond being inserted with him in the second unit – has closed some of the holes opponents previously exploited.
The second unit is playing well, dare we say, at both ends of the floor.
“We’re really starting to figure it out on that end,” Green said of the defense. “JP is starting to get more comfortable with the second group, which he spends a lot of time with as head honcho. He’s starting to get more and more comfortable with that.”
The Warriors shot a season-high 57.5 percent from the field, rang up at least 20 3-pointers for the second consecutive game and have their first three-game win streak of the season. It’s a modest number, but all streaks start small.
Case in point: They still haven’t won back-to-back road games this season.
Thompson hopes this was a prelude of what’s to come.
“Just get back to our Road Warriors way,” he said. “The last decade we’ve been the best road team in the NBA. We had a nasty start to the season on the road, so it was time to force our will. We’re not satisfied with one.”
The Warriors travel to Dallas next, where they will face the Mavericks for the first time this season – and first time since their Western Conference Finals last May.
A victory there would suggest the Warriors are firmly committed to defending their championship. That would raise a few more eyebrows around the NBA.