OAKLAND – The Warriors we’ve come to know in recent years rarely surface nowadays. It’s limited to a game here, a half there, the occasional quarter and sometimes a few torrid minutes.
It is, more often than not, enough to walk off the court in victory.
They enter the second half of the season Friday night after a second quarter they insist is not the new norm. The Warriors’ 13-7 record over the last 20 games brings them to 27-14 after 41. It’s not their worst quarter or even their worst half; that distinction belongs to the fourth quarter and second half of last season.
They tell us better days are ahead, and maybe they are. But we can’t dismiss the quarter that ended Tuesday with a win over the truly atrocious New York Knicks.
Here, in alphabetical order, are our grades for the second quarter of the 2018-19 regular season:
The wait for the JB Moment ended on New Year’s Eve in Phoenix, where Bell attacked and produced as the Warriors wish. It was another flash of potential. Just one. Unfortunately, that’s been about it. The 24-year-old center/forward frustrates more than fascinates, errs more than excites. Consistency remains elusive. Grade: C.
Cook, 25, has a reliable 3-ball, which is how he earns minutes. Still, the point guard had one fewer double-digit scoring games (three) than DNP-CDs (four) this quarter. He still can’t guard and probably never will. That’s part of the package. He has to make shots to make an impact, and recently his shot has been nice. Grade: B-minus.
Continued his rehab and, by most accounts, his Achilles’ tendon held up. So. The 28-year-old center will be coming soon to an NBA venue near you. Grade: Incomplete.
Curry, 30, missed the first two games of the quarter, but was nearly as good upon returning as he was before being sidelined with the groin injury. The level at which he started the season was silly great. Now he has settled into being merely splendid. Red flag: He had at least as many turnovers as assists in six games. Grade: A-minus.
Durant, 30, opened the quarter with a 49-point game followed by a 51-point game. He’s shooting about 50 percent from the field, nearly 90 percent from the line and his 3-ball is back after being MIA earlier. His playmaking is a weapon; he averaged 6.5 assists. He’s a rainbow defender, beautiful when visible but often not visible. Grade: A-minus.
Jacob Evans III
Gone is the hope that he would be able to contribute as a rookie. Evans, 21, played a total of 23 minutes this quarter, hardly enough to evaluate. Grade: Inc.
Green, 28, missed the first six games of the quarter with a toe injury and has been uneven since his return. His defense generally is solid, but with fewer “wow” moments. His 3-ball was such a liability that opponents don’t defend it. His rebounding was excellent, and his playmaking is finding a rhythm. We’ve seen his “A” game, and this is not it. Grade: B.
Iguodala turns 35 this month and sometimes it shows. There also are throwback moments. He generally produces in ways that make an impact, whether it’s steals or rebounds or assists or blocks or, infrequently, scoring; he shot 44 percent from deep. Good things tend to happen when he’s on the floor. Grade: B-plus.
The 31-year-old veteran forward, who occasionally slides to center, has been at least as good as anticipated, sometimes better. He does stretch the floor. His defense can be leaky, 3-ball streaky; he shot 50 percent or better in 10 games. His aggressive rebounding has been a plus. Grade: B.
Jones, 23, sustained a season-ending torn pectoral muscle in the third game of the quarter. Tough break for a center the Warriors wanted to evaluate closely. Grade: Inc.
His midrange turnaround jumper has not been as automatic as in years past; after shooting at least 50 percent four straight seasons, the 33-year-old point guard is at 45 percent. Still uses his 6-11 wingspan to great advantage at both ends, but his scoring is important. Grade: B.
Summoned to start at center when Jones was sidelined, Looney, 22, has been solid on defense and rebounding. His scoring is where it should be, more efficient than prolific; he shot 67 percent for the quarter. For someone who is at a physical disadvantage most of the time, he has been a bright spot. Grade: A-minus.
MeKinnie, 26, missed the first four games of the quarter with a foot injury. Upon returning, forward’s activity level remained high – no Warrior crashes the offensive glass harder – but his 3-ball, so good in the first quarter, has cooled (25 percent for the quarter). His energy remains high, but he needs to find his shot. Grade: B-minus.
Thompson’s on-ball defense remains solid, but his team defense has been inconsistent. His 3-ball, a big part of his identity, was substandard early – he denied a slump, but that’s what it was – has returned, perhaps in time to retain his All-Star status. At 28, he is in his prime, so he should be at his best. Grade: B.