The Warriors went out Thursday night and proved that underdogs, which they were in every sense of the word, can bring a big bite.
The tiniest team in the NBA strolled into Dallas and laid a 147-116 smackdown the massive Mavericks at American Airlines Center.
They outscored Dallas 73-40 in the second half.
Stephen Curry and Kelly Oubre Jr., with shades of the Splash Brothers, combined for 68 points on 23-of-38 shooting from the field. Draymond Green passed the Mavericks dizzy and the defense was, well, good enough.
It was such a beating that Curry and Green sat back and watched the entire fourth quarter.
Here are three takeaways from a game the Warriors can point to with pride:
They seem to understand the mission
They’re without James Wiseman, so they can’t rely on length. They’re without Kevon Looney, so they can’t assume fundamental defense. They’re without Eric Paschall, so they can’t expect a mismatch easily exploited.
No, for these Warriors to have any chance of winning during this involuntary small-ball phase, they have to bring the ferocity of a pack of wolves. Boy, did they.
The Warrior hung around because they were the scrappier, wilier squad. Clearly working with a short roster – literally and figuratively – and distinct talent deficit, they decided to constantly irritate and annoy and push the pace at every opportunity.
And when they sniffed an opening in the third quarter, they blasted off a 21-7 quarter-closing run that yielded a 110-95 lead entering the fourth.
The Warriors played with a let’s-make-them-respect-us urgency, which succeeded well enough to have the Mavericks walk out of the arena wondering what had hit them upside the psyche.
The Oubre graph goes up, up, up
So continues the season of Kelly Oubre Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr., two very different players that happen to have the same name.
Which is why his season so far can be described as WWWWWWWWW – not actual Ws (for wins) but an erratic line graph.
After an abysmal performance by Bad Kelly on Tuesday – 12 points, one rebound, wandering defense, minus-25 in 26 minutes – Great Kelly showed up in this game. He poured in 22 first-half points – tying his career-high for a half – and finished with a career-high 40,(14-of-21, 7-of-10 from deep), along with a team-high eight rebounds.
Oubre was typically active but much more purposeful and efficient. He had his usual defensive lapses, where he reaches and falls out of position as his man drives to the cup, but he was more consistently engaged
To be answered in the national TV on Saturday is whether he can deliver a second consecutive strong game for the first time this season.
Draymond tossing dimes and more
It was only a few days ago that Green said he felt his conditioning where close to where he wanted it, indicating his game would follow.
And there it was. Green started at center and totaled 11 points, which is enough to make him the kind of threat that loosens up defenses. He recorded 15 assists, one off his career high. He also snagged six rebounds. It was a tidy 29 minutes during which he was plus-19.
As productive as Oubre and Curry were in scoring, Green had a similar effect everywhere else – at both ends.
If this was a glimpse of what’s to come on a semi-regular basis, this small-ball stretch will be watchable at least and maybe even show the roster what’s capable with a healthy roster if the effort is high and the ball is moving.