Warriors burn Nets, claim win No. 50

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It wasn’t a tale of two cities, but rather a tale of two quarters for the Warriors: A dominant, spirit breaking first quarter, followed by the complete downfall in the second.

When things settled in the second half, Stephen Curry tilted the balance in the Warriors’ favor as Golden State (50-14) pulled away for a 114-101 victory over the Brooklyn Nets (20-45).

The win, Golden State’s sixth in a row, gives the Warriors a franchise-record fifth consecutive 50-win season.

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

The win total isn’t something Curry takes for granted, because he remembers the bad times:

“I remember, trust me. Not many guys in that locker room remember what that was like. I think I’m the only one that was here in pre-playoff era. So you don’t have to remind me, I know how tough it was to win one NBA game, let alone 50 in a season, let alone a championship. So definitely appreciative of the time we are in right now.”

Curry scored 13 of his game-high 34 in the first quarter en route to the latest episode of the “Steph Show,” while Kevin Durant roasted everyone in one-on-one matchups and put up seven of his 19 points in the same first period.

That was all after the Warriors started out the game down 12-6 and looked like it was going to be another one of those listless games they obviously didn’t care about. But, thanks in large part to a 25-0 nothing run, the second quarter brought a 16-point Warrior advantage.

While the scoring picked up so too did the defense once Andre Iguodala and Jordan Bell entered the game. They shut down any and all lanes and both players were an absurd plus-20 in just six minutes.

But then the Warriors followed it up with what might be the worst quarter of basketball this season. They got outscored 34-13, allowing the Nets to hit 14-of-22 shots with little effort defensively.

Steve Kerr credited Nets coach Kenny Atkinson for his team’s effort all game long:

“Every time we play them, this happens. The first time in Brooklyn we were up 28 and they cut it to four. So they never quit. And I think that’s what happened in the second quarter, they came after us and we let our guard down, and we started to turn the ball over. And then it was a game again.”

The turnovers were definitely the most concerning, they turned the ball over eight times, all of which were unforced. They were either thrown straight out of bounds, straight to a nets defender or straight through the hands of a teammate.

The second quarter is usually the most sure-handed quarter for the Warriors, at least the beginning of it, as they always start the veteran lineup of Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and David West. But with West missing Tuesday’s game, Kerr was forced to throw lineups on the floor that had little experience playing together.

That also contributed to the second quarter struggles, Kerr said:

“The second unit that I played to start the second quarter was not a group I’ve played a whole lot together this year, maybe not ever. And maybe I’m letting them off the hook because they have to make better decisions with the ball, but we rely on David quite a bit with that group. … I just felt like we were out of sorts with that group from the beginning.”

But a halftime regrouping was just enough to steady the ship and lead the Warriors to victory. Draymond Green rebounded from a disastrous first half to score 16 points while collecting five rebounds and nine assists.

And after committing five turnovers of his own in the first half, he gave the ball away just once in the second half.

Things got worse for the Warriors in the second half as Bell left the game with just seconds remaining in the third after rolling his right ankle after coming down awkwardly on a block attempt.

Bell had just returned three games ago from his first ankle sprain that kept him on the sidelines for 15 games.

He was sent to get X-Rays, which turned out to be negative, but looked to be in a lot of pain while leaving the floor.

With the Warriors center rotation in a state of flux, this injury just adds another level of uncertainty headed into the home stretch of the season.

Up Next

The Spurs (37-27) visit Oracle Thursday amid a strange season filled with a mysterious Kawhi Leonard injury. Yet despite Leonard’s absence, San Antonio is still just one game back of third place in the West and are in a dogfight for playoff positioning.

Notes

With the win, the Warriors are now 6-0 since the All-Star break. They are also 10-0 in JaVale McGee starts this year. McGee took over the starting center spot since the All-Star break and it seems the team is going to keep that lineup at least for now. … With his 12 made field goals, Curry becomes the seventh player in Warriors franchise history to hit 5,000 career field goals. He joins Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Chris Mullin, Paul Arizin, Jeff Mullins and Nate Thurmond.


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.