OAKLAND – The Indiana Pacers staggered into Oracle Arena on Thursday for the fourth and final game of a week-long road trip. The weary travelers were looking for a respite, or a team that would take them lightly.
They got neither. The Warriors toyed with them early, turned vicious in the second quarter and buried them in the third.
Here are some of the positives and negatives culled from a game so one-sided no Warrior played more than 29 minutes:
Nobody on the Warriors sandbags quite like Andre Iguodala. He treats the regular season as dress rehearsal for the postseason, with nights good and bad not amounting to much.
He was very good. Bouncy, even. The creaky knees must be feeling good. Iguodala was active at both ends, totaling 11 points (5-of-7 shooting from the field, 1-of-3 from deep), three rebounds, two steals and one assist. He was plus-15 over 19 minutes.
When Igudoala plays well, the Warriors usually win. When he plays exceptionally well, they often rout. This is the Iguodala the Warriors want to see as the postseason looms.
It’s cliché to say Kevin Durant’s defense is “underrated.” He’s usually a solid defender, and occasionally spectacular. With emotions roiling in the wake of news about his “brother,” Cliff Dixon, being murdered in the Atlanta area, spectacular KD showed up.
Barely a minute after tipoff, he stoned a Thaddeus Young dunk attempt. With two more blocks in the quarter, both on Indy center Myles Turner, Durant got serious about protecting the rim.
As much as Draymond Green and Klay Thompson mean to this defense, it’s even more deflating to opponents when Durant – the longest small forward in history – is impactful in the paint.
Quinn Cook’s eyes were moist and reddened before tipoff, obviously a reaction to the news regarding Dixon. They, too, were friends. Cook and Durant shared an embrace before the Warriors took the floor.
Durant played very well. Cook did not. After showing recent signs of finding his shot – he was 5-of-11 from deep on the four-game road trip – Cook never found his range. He was 1-of-6 from the field, 0-of-4 from deep.
No doubt Cook was affected by Dixon’s death. The Warriors hope that’s all it was, for Cook’s value lies in scoring. If he’s not getting buckets, he’ll be glued to the bench.
Boogie the bully
DeMarcus Cousins is the first to acknowledge he is motivated by slights, by being told what he cannot do. Coming off a year-long layoff for Achilles’ tendon surgery, there was criticism related to his mobility, particularly as it relates to defense. He seems to have heard every word.
Two months into his return, he’s playing as if the sharp words continue to ring in his ears. He’s using his bulk to eat space on defense and also have his way on offense. He finished with team highs in points (19, on 8-of-12 shooting) and 11 rebounds, adding four assists and two blocks.
The critics started a fire within Cousins, as if auditioning for a new contract weren’t enough.
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Keeping it moving
The Warriors often talk about ball movement, but they also believe it’s the best route to an open look. They were good in a sluggish first quarter but ridiculously good in the second – when they outscored the Pacers 34-24 – with each of their 13 buckets assisted.
The Warriors had no fewer than seven five-pass possessions over the first three quarters, with five leading to easy buckets. They had 19 assists on 21 first-half buckets, 28 on 35 through three quarters and finished with 32 on 44 (garbage time was a mess).
What’s not to love about all five starters having at least four assists?