What a difference Andre Iguodala can make.
With Stephen Curry sidelined with an ankle injury, Iguodala answered the call and led the Warriors to a 115-106 win over the Houston Rockets in Game 2 of the playoffs’ first round.
Though Iguodala’s stat line wasn’t all-mighty — 18 points, three assists, and two rebounds in 33 minutes — he was the difference maker in a Warriors lineup that didn’t play all that well.
Head coach Steve Kerr said:
“It reminded me of the Finals. Andre has a knack for just kind of knowing when we need him, and he hasn’t been shooting the ball all that well since he returned from the ankle injury. And he hits four threes in the first half. But it doesn’t surprise me.”
Despite Klay Thompson pouring in 34 points — and acing 15 of 16 free throws — the impact of Iguodala could not be disputed.
The unusually-clutch performer filled the mold that led Golden State to sign him two years ago, hitting shots when he needed to, playing defense to the highest degree, and dictating terms all night long.
Iguodala’s second-quarter performance made the overall difference Monday night, where he scored five points and notched two pivotal steals. He said he knew, if given the chances, he would have success:
“There’s a certain pregame rhythm I try to get the day before a game, and found it, and knew it’d feel good today.”
“He was brilliant. He carried our second unit while he was out there. He guarded James Harden. He controlled the game, I thought, when he was out there.”
Just seven seconds following the Barnes’ miss, Iguodala blocked a short shot attempt by Michael Beasley. With a little over four minutes left in the half, it was a virtual repeat of the first steal.
Iguodala intercepted a pass from Donatas Motiejunas, and Barnes ended up with the ball. And a missed jumper.
Center Andrew Bogut said:
“Andre was a huge presence for us. Not so much statistically, but mentally a huge presence. When we’re in that locker room or when he’s on the court just because he knows how to play the game.”
Iguodala’s final line could have been much different, much more star-spangled. But the Warriors got what they wanted. What Iguodala wants more than numbers. Win No. 2 in this series.
Help still needed to come from other places, though, to offset the production without the reigning MVP.
Shaun Livingston, who was starting his 11th career playoff game through illness and in the stead of Curry, hit on 7-of-9 field goal attempts for 16 points.
“I think we should that it’s hard to fill that void. Obviously. No one’s going to do it by themselves, and we have to do it as a team. I’m mesmerized by Shawn Livingston, a starting quality point guard. You can’t ask for a better backup point guard in this league. He plays with composure, he plays with great length, and he’s a mismatch nightmare for point guards.”
“We have a saying for Shaun and what he’s been able to do in the post throughout this wholes season, and it’s a lot of fun to watch. So we want that for him, and he’s come a long way from a terrible injury. But he’s a great guy and it’s a lot of fun to see him have a lot of success. What he’s doing out there, we’re not surprised. We’re really happy to see.”
Thompson’s night, too, was not to be forgotten. In his third career playoff game with more than 30 points, he also snared three rebounds and dished out five assists.
Nearly half of Thompson’s 34 points came from the free throw line, 15-of-16 from the gimme stripe and shooting 40 percent from the field — 37 percent from distance.
Draymond Green, who said after Game 1 that replacing Curry was a task requiring a full team effort, added 13 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, barely missing his first triple-double of this year’s playoffs.
Of Thompson’s night, Green said:
“In a game like this, I’m sure everybody thought Klay was going to come out and take 30 shots and he took 20 shots. Maybe a couple more than he would normally take. So our focus was to come out and move the ball, and everybody gets involved, and we did that.”