The Warriors this season have lost two games, and it was about 45 minutes after the second one that forward Draymond Green sought to clarify an issue.
He’s not thinking about scoring. Won’t look for his shot. Won’t go chasing buckets.
“That’s the last thing on my mind,” he said, standing outside the visitor’s locker room at Staples Center after a 20-point loss to the Lakers on Nov. 4. “My focus is on defense and making plays. That’s it.”
The latest manifestation of Green’s priorities came Wednesday night in Toronto. While Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were combining to score 65 points and create pretty highights, it was Green’s defense and energy that pushed the Warriors to a 127-121 win over the Raptors at Air Canada Centre.
“Draymond was brilliant,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters in Toronto.
It was “Drake Night” at ACC and the Raptors were playing well – until the second quarter, when the Warriors, with Green as the catalyst, hijacked the proceedings.
After tweaking his ankle in the first quarter and getting re-taped, Green reentered the game with 7:01 left in the second quarter and the Warriors trailing 47-43. With him as the catalyst, the Warriors clamped down on defense and closed the half on a 23-6 run.
Credit Green. His teammates did.
“He changed the momentum for sure,” said Stephen Curry, who scored a game-high 35 points, including 14 in the third quarter to douse a Toronto surge.
“The whole quarter I thought he was great,” Kerr said. “Everybody was really good. We were in tune defensively and made stops and got the rebound. Once we started to rebound in that game, we were able to get out in transition.
“In the first quarter we just couldn’t get a defensive rebound; they got a ton of offensive boards. It was good to finally rebound and get out and run, and get our game going.”
Green did a little bit of everything in the quarter. He blocked a couple shots, got a steal and made several unquantifiable disruptions. With considerable assistance from Andre Iguodala, Green scored only four points but basically took the Raptors’ offense and broke it in tiny pieces.
By holding the Raptors to 6 points over the last seven minutes of the half, the Warriors grabbed a lead they never lost.
“The second quarter was great, one of the best quarters we’ve played,” Kerr said. That’s probably the only quarter we’ve played tonight the way we want to play.”
The Warriors, who allowed 38 points in the first quarter, outscored the Raptors 32-15 over the next 12 minutes.
“It was amazing,” Green said. “From the start, with the second unit that was in there they got the tempo going, got the defense going. They started rebounding the basketball and we came back in and picked up where they left off.
“Defensively and offensively it was amazing and I definitely agree with (Kerr) that it was our best quarter of the year, something that we can build off of.”
Green played 35 minutes and totaled 11 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three blocks and a pair of steals. He was plus-1 for the game.
“He was great; he’s been great all year,” said Kevin Durant, who produced 30 points, nine rebounds and six assists. “He’s setting the tone for us, defending, making the right play, being aggressive on the offensive end and the defensive end.
“He’s just a basketball player. You can’t label him as one thing. He does it all.”