Times Standard (Eureka)
Getting defensive without Draymond
Offense for the show. Defense for the dough!
Scoring sells in the NBA. It draws fans. It fills arenas. It feeds the ratings that led to multimilliondollar broadcast deals and pays player salaries.
While offense gets the most glory, it’s defense that brings home gold. It’s the hustle and the expenditure of energy that turns games around and makes a way to win out of no way.
It’s also how the Golden State Warriors have been able to make their “money” lately.
For the second consecutive game, the Dubs were able to survive and outlast their opponent, beating the Utah Jazz 94-92 on Sunday night at Chase Center.
Utah (30-17) leads the league in second-half points at 59.4 per game. The Warriors allowed 38. Utah leads the league in three-point baskets (14.7 per game) on 36.2 percent shooting. The Warriors allowed 11 threes on 31.4 percent shooting, a figure that would rank 29th in the league. The Jazz shoot 47.2 overall, third-best in the league. Against the Warriors, the Jazz shot 38.3 percent.
On a night when Stephen Curry again struggled with his shot — he was 5 for 20, including
1 for 13 from three — and the Warriors scored only 11 points in the fourth quarter, it was the “clamps” that made them winners. The Warriors did it without Draymond Green, the quarterback of their defense, winning for the fifth time in his ninegame absence.
“Huge win and especially because we were able to rely on our defense,” said Jordan Poole, who started in place of Klay Thompson (sore knee) and led the scoring with 20 points. “We know how talented we are in terms of scoring, but when it comes down to it, w were able to get a lot of stops. Just shows who we are as a team and it paid off tonight.”
Damion Lee gave the Warriors 12 points off the bench (on 4 threes in six attempts), but also cited the defense.
“Obviously, one of the things that we try to hang our hat on is being a really solid defensive team,” Lee said. “We had a great defensive unit out there, guys flying around, switching and understanding who their hot guys were. Trying to stay in that mode really helped us out today.”
In the nine games since Green was sidelined, the Warriors have allowed 100 points or more five times. In four of those instances, they have allowed more than 115.
“I think our intensity defensively kind of dropped the last couple of weeks.” Otto Porter Jr said. “We’re slowly getting that back, we had to go back to the drawing boards to figure out what we needed to do. (Assistant coach] Mike Brown preaches ball pressure and that’s a big thing we really tried to focus on today — getting to the ball more, dictating what they do. I think that pretty much trickled down the line for us defensively.”
Kevon Looney’s pressure on the ball was especially key. He played straight one-on-one while switching on to Bojan Bogdanovic on multiple possessions and forcing him into some tough, contested shots. With Green out, Looney is the heart and soul of the defense.
“He has such a big impact offensively and defensively,” Poole said of Looney. “He knows the offense as well as anybody. We play through him so much. His energy, his impact, physicality and IQ for the game helps us so much. It’s a big difference when he’s out there on the floor. A huge, huge, huge credit to him We wouldn’t be where we are without him.”
Back-to-back steals by Gary Payton II in the third quarter resulted in easy baskets in transition.
“Our defense turns into a lot of our offense,” Porter Jr. said. “We get going from our defense. We get steals; we get out in transition. It just makes the game a lot easier for us.”
The Warriors have the league’s top defense with a 102.6 rating. They lead the league in defensive rebounds with 36.4 per game.
The Warriors’ hustle on defense paid off in close wins against Houston and Utah over the last two games. That same hustle and intensity will be key to them finding championship gold.