Warriors vets lead team in slow paced slog

The Warriors weren’t wearing their Crossover throwback uniforms Friday night against the Mavericks, but they might as well have been as elder statesmen David West and Shaun Livingston certainly had throwback performances.

The veteran duo put up modest stat lines— six points, two rebounds for Livingston and eight points and two rebounds for West—but they broke the game open in the second quarter and spurred the team to a 108-99 victory.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors’ locker room at Oracle Arena.

That second quarter they scored 10 straight points for the Warriors and finished the quarter a combined 5-of-5 from the field.

And the Warriors needed an extra boost as the team’s big three of Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 62 points, but 12 of them came in garbage time with the game out of reach. The trio came into Friday night’s game averaging a combined 71.

Thompson led all scorers with 29, erupting for 17 in the third quarter but was basically the only Warriors player to get in a rhythm all game. He’s been in a grove recently and hit five 3-pointers tonight, which marks the fourth time in the last five games he’s hit five triples.

Draymond Green, who finished with 13 points, eight boards and seven assists, said that it was a total team effort in the win:

“No one guy, Klay a little bit there in the third, but it was never one guy where you’re like, ‘he’s hot, he’s got it going, we are going to him.’ Sometimes we can get that way…it wasn’t that tonight it was everybody moving the ball around and sharing the ball.”

It was another quiet game from Curry who finished with 14 points, which marked the third time in the last five games he’s failed to reach 16 points.

Steve Kerr said the team was very good for three quarters but again looked disinterested towards the end:

“I don’t want us to take winning for granted. I feel like there’s kind of an expectation for us to win, from our players, from everybody. And there’s a danger there in the expectation in it can take the joy out of it. And I want to make sure our players are still out there having fun.”

With the Mavericks missing Andrew Bogut and starting Dirk Nowitzki at center, it seemed like a perfect game for the fast-paced Warriors to assert their will and push the pace and create that fun environment.

But the Mavs swung the pendulum the other way and forced Golden State to play at a snail’s pace. Dallas came into the game as the second slowest paced team in the league per Teamrankings.com and with the 38-year-old Nowitzki back, looked to play even slower.

The Warriors answer?

Their own mid-30’s center.

West hasn’t needed to do much this season, as he’s averaging just 11.2 minutes a game, but tonight the slow pace played right into his game. It’s been that way for a couple of weeks now as West has really started to look comfortable in his role and gained more minutes as a result.

Former Warrior Harrison Barnes tried his best to keep his new team in the game scoring 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting most of it coming with Green guarding him, but it was nowhere near enough for the Mavs particularly with Nowitzki still playing just limited minutes.

Green said Barnes has been much more aggressive in his new role and is it’s showing in his numbers:

“He has the ultimate green light, it’s like neon green…I think he’s averaging 20-something but it gets no attention because of their record. But as they get better and better he’ll get more attention for what he’s doing. He’s having a really good year.”

The one thing the Mavs can do is turn you over though, they came into the game ranked first in turnovers per possession, forcing a turnover on 16.5 percent of their opponents plays. And with the Warriors pension for getting careless with the ball, it looked like a bad matchup.

But the Warriors were able to break their turnover curse and committed just 13 all game, with many of them coming in garbage time with the bench in.

Thompson said that the team has been talking about turnovers a lot over the last few days:

“It feels like no one can compete with us if we just play simple basketball and we play free minded but with a great focus as well, we did that tonight but we have to continue to do it the rest of the home-stand.”

It was just another example of the Warriors adaptability, winning another game in a totally different way, which bodes well for the team heading into the new year.

Up Next

The Warriors get to ring in the new year with their families as they are off for the next two days. Business then picks up for the team as seven of the teams next eight games are in the friendly confines of Oracle Arena, starting with a game versus the visiting Nuggets January 2.

Notes

After scoring 14 points tonight, Stephen Curry now has 11,903 career points as a Warrior, which moved him past Purvis Short (11,894) for the seventh most points in Warriors history. Next in sight is Jeff Mullins who totaled 12,547 points in his Warriors career. … Former Warrior Andrew Bogut did not play Friday night at Oracle as he is not playing in back-to-back games and the Mavericks played against the Lakers Thursday night. Bogut has missed both games against his former ball club so far this season, he’ll get his next shot March 21 in Dallas. … Kevin Durant notched his first triple-double as a Warrior, totaling 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. It marked Durant’s eighth career triple-double.


Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.