It took four tries, but the Warriors (2-5) christened Chase Center with its first win Monday night with a shocking 127-118 win over the Portland Trail Blazers (3-4).
It’s been a weird season for their new home, so it’s fitting the win added even more weirdness, since this historic moment featured literally no players on the court from last season’s playoff roster.
Instead, the Warriors were carried by guys whose names people outside of the Bay Area have never heard of. Hell, if some of these guys were walking around outside of Chase before the game, even the most diehard fans would have a hard time recognizing them.
But that’s not going to be the case after Monday. It was the young team’s coming-out party, namely Eric Paschall.
Paschall got his 23rd birthday celebration going early, as he poured in 17 points in the first quarter alone. He was even a perfect 3-of-3 from deep after starting the season 0-of-8. He became the first Warriors rookie to score at least 17 points in a quarter since Reggie Williams in 2010.
Paschall said the key to his game as always been confidence and tonight was no different:
“You got to feel like you’re the best player out there. It’s a dog eat dog world. If you’re not the aggressor, you’re gonna get eaten alive. There are some real killers out there… But again, I owe it all to my teammates. They give me the confidence to go out there and play my game.”
But his night wasn’t done, he finished with a career-high 34, and has scored 20 or more points in three of the last four games. About the only one who could stop Paschall from scoring was the official scorekeeper who took two points away from him after the game. He also grabbed 13 rebounds and shot a perfect 8-of-8 from the line.
Paschall hasn’t just been a bright spot on a roster devoid of talent, he’s looked like a building block for the organization going forward. He got the Draymond Green comparisons for his ability to defend and do a little bit of everything, but his ability to score the basketball has been the real story.
His shot looked pure on varying pull-ups, and he knows how to use his body to bully his way to the rim. He has looked like a vet moving people out of his way to get clean looks at the rim.
And that’s something Steve Kerr said that he’s noticed from very beginning, Paschall hasn’t looked like a regular rookie:
“He came in, he didn’t look like a rookie at all from the first day of practice. He looked like a guy who was really well prepared for this. But what surprised us was the shooting touch he showed tonight, I didn’t expect four 3’s. He’s just playing with great confidence, he’s out there believing he can do it every time down.”
At just 6-foot-6, length is going to always give him problems, but he drives with such force that he can push some of the slighter big men out of the way.
His full offensive arsenal was on display Monday: 3’s, pullups, stepbacks, offensive rebounds, at one point he might have morphed into a dragon and flew from one end of the court to the other while spitting fire on the Blazers— it was all a blur. He even got Chase Center’s first MVP chants.
It was a moment that Paschall said was a little overwhelming:
“Yeah that was a little crazy I’m not going to lie, honestly. For a rookie you’re hearing MVP, that’s a wow moment. I was more focused on the game because I was like, ok we have a chance to win now, but to hear that, I just thank dubnation for believing in me.”
It wasn’t just Paschall that fueled the Warriors though. Ky Bowman pitched in a career-high 19 points, eight assists and four rebounds of his own.
The two-way guard has shown that he belongs in the NBA in the absence of Stephen Curry and D’Angelo Russell. Over the last two games, the 6-foot-1-point guard has logged 39 and 38 minutes, while picking up opposing guards full court.
His stamina and energy have been huge for a Golden State team in need of any kind of spark.
He even got in the face of Hassan Whiteside after absorbing contact on a layup. His teammates loved it, Chase Center loved it, and it showed the spirit of this gritty — dare I say fun — Warriors team.
Bowman said the whole mentality of this team is proving something to everyone:
“I know I’m a rook, but I’m not going to be pushed around… I think I’ve had a chip on my shoulder since I went undrafted, but I also think there’s chips on the other players shoulders, everyone’s got something to prove.”
After watching the Warriors struggle to stay motivated during the regular season the past few years, it’s a refreshing scene to see guys amped up for a random November game.
It’s been refreshing for Kerr too he said:
“Just a fantastic effort by the whole group, everybody that we put in came in a gave us big minutes. It’s a fun group to coach because everyone’s young and hungry and they were fighting like crazy out there the whole game.”
That’s what happens when everyone is fighting to find a spot in the league. Jordan Poole and Damian Jones jacked up shots with reckless abandon and poured in 16 and 18 points respectively, Alec Burks bowled his way to the rim whenever he touched the ball and you had Klay Thompson and Russell jumping off the bench in celebration of all of it.
These Warriors might not have been known before, but they are making people pay attention now — and proving that they are deserving of it.
After four straight games at Chase Center, the Warriors go on the road for the next three, starting with a matchup with James Harden and the Houston Rockets (4-3) Wednesday.
Paschall became the first Warriors rookie since Stephen Curry to post consecutive 25-point games, and the first since Curry to have a 25-point, 10-rebound night.