Iguo­dala start brings victory for War­riors

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY JIM SLATER

Golden State for­ward An­dre I guo­dala had been con­signed to a re­serve role for 100 games dur­ing the sea­son and play­offs, but he made his first start a mem­o­rable one Thurs­day.

The 31- year- old play­maker scored 22 points, grabbed eight re­bounds and played ag­gres­sive de­fense against Cleve­land star LeBron James in a 103-82 tri­umph that pulled the War­riors level at 2-2 in the best-of-seven NBA Fi­nals.

“He looks great out there,” War­riors coach Steve Kerr said. “He has been our best player through four games. He guards LeBron pretty much ev­ery pos­ses­sion he’s out there and his of­fense has been ter­rific.”

Iguo­dala, whose will­ing­ness to sac­ri­fice his start­ing role for key min­utes com­ing off the bench set a tone for the War­riors sea­son, re­placed An­drew Bogut in the start­ing lineup so Golden State could try and cre­ate a fast early tempo af­ter a se­ries of slow starts.

“He has been phe­nom­e­nal for us,” said Golden State’s Dray­mond Green.

“He has been that steady force in ev­ery game in this se­ries for us. In­sert­ing him into the start­ing lineup, he’s al­ready be­ing ag­gres­sive. He’s al­ready con­fi­dent but it brought pace to the game. He was knock­ing down shots. He was all over the floor, get­ting de­flec­tions, com­ing up with loose balls, with re­bounds and push­ing the tempo and that re­ally helped us a lot.”

Iguo­dala had nine points in the first quar­ter and hit 8-of-15 shots for the game, in­clud­ing 4-of-9 3-point tries.

That even had four-time NBA Most Valu­able Player James im­pressed.

“He’s one of the X-fac­tors and he came to play,” James said. “He shot the ball ex­tremely well. He was in attack. He got a cou­ple of dunks in tran­si­tion early on which got him go­ing and he was re­ally good. To start him gave them that boost.”

Iguo­dala was determined to make mat­ters more dif­fi­cult on James all night and wear him down, some­thing that hap­pened at the end of the third quar­ter and al­lowed Golden State to start a de­ci­sive run while he rested.

“The thing that makes him dy­namic is he’s prob­a­bly one of the smartest and best passers out of all the scor­ers,” Iguo­dala said about James.

“But the foun­da­tion is the same — make him work as hard as pos­si­ble, make him take tough shots. You look at his strengths, his weak­nesses, which way he wants to go, which way he prefers to play, and you try to just take him out of his com­fort zone.”

War­riors leader and NBA Most Valu­able Player Steph Curry said that while he is al­ways con­fi­dent in his shot mak­ing, Iguo­dala’s de­fen­sive work was crit­i­cal.

“We know his knack for just be­ing im­pact­ful on the de­fen­sive end, whether it’s play­ing one-onone de­fense, get­ting steals, re­bounds, block­ing shots, he does it all,” Curry said.

“It showed tonight and a huge rea­son why we’re 2- 2 go­ing home.”

Kerr Lies to Keep Se­cret

Kerr lied to re­porters be­fore the game, say­ing he was not chang­ing his start­ing lineup, and made no apolo­gies for it.

“If I tell the truth it’s the equiv­a­lent of me knock­ing on (Cleve­land coach) Dave Blatt’s door and say­ing, ‘Hey, this is what we’re go­ing to do,’” Kerr said.

“I could evade the ques­tion, which would start this Twit­ter phe­nom­e­non — who is go­ing to start for the War­riors — or I could lie.

“So I lied. Sorry but I don’t think they hand you the tro­phy based on moral­ity. They give it to you if you win.”

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