Instead of the final buzzer sounding Sunday at Oracle, it would have been more appropriate if the PA system played Dinah Washington’s “What a Difference a Day Makes.”
Less than 24 hours after looking as bad as they ever have in the Steve Kerr era, the Warriors (50-23) responded with a 121-114 win over the Detroit Pistons (37-36).
After shooting just 4-of-30 from 3 Saturday, Golden State opened Sunday 4-of-6 from deep in the first quarter, and never looked back. They would finish shooting 52 percent from behind the line in a complete turnaround.
Kerr said that it’s been a grind these last few years and that all came to a head Saturday:
” What you’ve seen over the last two seasons, we’ve had some let downs. It’s hard for anybody to understand what these guys go through physically, emotionally, spiritually, trying to defend the crown, trying to win the title, trying to stay on top of the mountain. It’s hard. And last night they had nothing in the tank. And the great thing about this team is they always bounce back because they have so much pride.”
It helps that old foe Blake Griffin was on the opposing side, which led to some extra energy — especially for Draymond Green — who has always taken pleasure in smothering him on defense.
All the effort absent Saturday erupted against the Pistons, as Green was flying around everywhere. He baited Griffin into a ton of forced shots reminiscent of his Clippers days.
Green said he likes when teams keep trying to go at him in the post:
“I would rather them keep going to that. I don’t really want them to try and switch off, keep trying to post me. I enjoy that. I take pride in getting stops, I really don’t take pride in someone trying to take me out the action. I hate that. I like to be in the action and be in the middle of things.”
Griffin finished with 24 points and six rebounds, though the stat sheet hid what was an extremely frustrating game for him, full of poked away dribbles and stoned post-ups.
The more frustrated Griffin got, the more it invigorated Green, and not just on defense. He had 11 of his 14 points before halftime, just the 14th time Green has reached double figures this season.
Kevin Durant said that it’s a matchup that definitely excites Green:
“I think he takes that matchup personal. Well every matchup personal, but I feel like Blake brings the best out of Draymond to be honest. I think he gets up for these games.”
Green has actually been much more aggressive on offense the last handful of games, scoring 10 points in three of the last five. He’s also started to heat up from outside, as he’s shot 8-of-16 from 3 over the last six games.
And when Green is engaged, it radiates to the entire team.
Durant fed off that energy and played a near perfect game. He had only had 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, but added a team high 11 assists.
Kerr said Durant can pick and choose what he wants to do on a given night because he’s so skilled:
“Kevin is such a great talented player that he can just do whatever he wants on the floor. He decided to be a distributor tonight, obviously 11 assists, and I thought his defense was great. He’s just one of those guys who’s so talented, it’s kind of whatever he chooses to do that night, that’s what he does.”
Durant as the facilitator was nearly unstoppable, as he got any and all Warriors on the floor with him open layups. When he operates at that level of involvement, the Warriors turn into a different animal on offense.
Oh, and they still have Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who had 26 and 24 respectively. Thompson rebounded nicely from an ultra-forgettable eight-point, zero-3 performance Saturday, and Curry also pulled down a team high nine rebounds.
The Warriors as a team outrebounded the Pistons 38-29, all the more impressive since Detroit employs the Andre Drummond-Griffin front line.
It was an all-around impressive game for the Warriors, who retook the first seed in the West, and while it eases the apprehension after last game, it doesn’t completely erase it.
But what a difference a day makes.
The Warriors head back on the road for two games in the next six days. They’ll travel to take on the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday.
With the win the Warriors now have six 50-win seasons in a row. Before this stretch, they had just five 50-win seasons over their first 68 seasons. … Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney combined for 19 points, eight rebounds and four blocks out of the center spot with DeMarcus Cousins resting.