Warriors survive against Kings; still undefeated with fans in Chase Center

Black Falcon, welcome to Wiggins Island!

The Golden State Warriors barely scratched out a win against the Sacramento Kings, entertaining their loud home fans and keeping their playoff hopes very much alive.

Fortunately, the Dubs have Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, two future Hall-of-Famers plying their craft with the weight of the season on their shoulders.

Curry’s 37 points and 7 rebounds helped the Dubs get the win while also setting the record for most made three-pointers in a month. The NBA’s leading scorer also had a hilarious response to a postgame question about his sore ankle from our very own Poor Man’s Commish.

Meanwhile, Green had his season high in rebounds (14) while dishing out 13 assists. His creative passing continues to help the Warriors find Curry and others in spots they feel comfortable scoring. Did you know he’s currently averaging around the same assists as the alleged “point god” Chris Paul?

The preposterous numbers Curry and Green are putting up right now are the lifeblood pumping through this franchise’s veins. But there was much more to the close battle last night, including a familiar face coming back looking for revenge.

The return of the Black Falcon

No matter how well Andrew Wiggins has played so far in his short time as a Warrior, his big contract and previously mediocre career with Minnesota will always make him a target of debate.

Ah yes, the name of Harrison “Black Falcon” Barnes once again causing debate in Dub Nation.

Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday that a young, fresh-faced Barnes was Golden State’s starting small forward? His time with the club provided an informative look at how Coach Steve Kerr sees the position in a system designed to maximize the unique skill sets of Curry, Green, and Klay Thompson.

Barnes was responsible for defending multiple positions, dunking on people’s heads in transition, and making shots when the opportunity was advantageous. Despite his strong defensive prowess (particularly fending off power forwards in the small lineups) and the occasional highlight poster, it was his inconsistent offensive game that traumatized the fanbase and eventually opened the door for megastar Kevin Durant to join.

Well, that and HB turned down the franchise’s 4 year/$64M extension offer in a move that eventually freed the Warriors to add Durant while Barnes was forced to seek financially greener pastures elsewhere.

Injuries and roster turnover eventually brought the dynasty to its knees, but now Golden State is clawing their way back to relevancy in a new world. That made last night’s Barnes versus Wiggins battle a game within the game; the grizzled former son of the Golden Empire challenging the team’s newest small forward talent.

  • Barnes: 40 min, 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting (5-of-9 on 3PT), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 3 turnovers

  • Wiggins: 37 min, 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting, (1-of-2 on 3PT), 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover

Barnes shot 4-of-8 from the field when guarded by Wiggins, and drained three triples on the Canadian. Everytime he hit a trey, Dub Nation’s collective brow furrowed.

But Wiggins got the last laugh when Barnes went for a gutsy game winning bomb over him in the final seconds. Wiggins trapped Barnes’ soul in the sands of the inescapable fortress that is Wiggins Island. LOOK AT THIS DEFENSE!

All things considered Barnes is clearly still a solid talent, but misses like these are why I’d guess the Warriors probably don’t miss his game too much.

Remember the heavy degree that Wiggins was roasted for the crime of being an elite role player miscast as an expensive, high volume scoring option? Barnes has been living that life for several years now without the same level of scrutiny Wiggins received during his time in the drudgery that is Minnesota basketball.

Perhaps Wiggins was a victim of high expectations after going #1 in the 2014 draft and winning Rookie of the Year. At any rate, it’s clear that both wings have had their best days as members of the Warriors, an organization that excels at finding ways for role players to maximize their talents in orbit around the Big 3.

Warriors role players keep showing promise

Something Barnes did well as a Warrior was “eating up innings” as Kerr likes to say, working as a starter so Kerr could have the luxury of deploying Olympian Andre Iguodala with the reserve unit. We’re now seeing guys like Kent Bazemore and Mychal Mulder eat up starter’s minutes while Kelly Oubre Jr. takes on the sparkplug off the bench role.

Oubre continues to look like an elite 6th man, tallying 19 points in 31 minutes off the bench despite his deep ball not falling (1-of-7 shooting from 3PT range). His physicality and energy continue to pay dividends on the glass, evidenced by his 7 rebounds (4 offensive).

Mulder scored 11 points in 14 minutes, and did a pretty decent Klay Thompson imitation as a three-pointer release valve for the Warriors offense. Lumbering center Kevon Looney put together another workmanlike performance, epitomized by this play where his gritty hustle overcame the physical limitations of his ground-bound body.

Gary Payton II only played 5 minutes but shot 100% from the field. Like Visa, he was everywhere you wanted him to be. He cuts fluidly in the offense, provides secondary ballhandling, and is a defensive pest.

Juan Toscano-Anderson balled out off the bench as well, tallying 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists in 31 minutes. His hoops IQ is so freaking high: when he shares the floor with Curry and Green the ball and player movement gets real surgical.

It’s crazy how Kerr keeps plugging these end-of-the-rotation guys into the mix and finding gold. AND THEY TOLD ME THE WARRIORS CAN’T DEVELOP ANYBODY.

Tyrese Halliburton is hella good (as LGW predicted)

I just gotta give the LGW community a shoutout for being so early on the “draft Tyrese Halliburton” train. You good people selected him to win Eric Apricot’s 2020 draft pick tournament, and he was balling hard on the Dubs last night.

24 points and 8 assists on 10-of-20 shooting, and some clutch 4th quarter moments? Yeah, LGW knew this kid was gonna be a beast.

Although I’m certainly satisfied with the James Wiseman selection (finally a big man prospect for the future), Halliburton is emphatically putting his name into Rookie of the Year consideration.

Moving On

It was neat seeing former Warriors coaching assistants Luke Walton and Alvin Gentry on the sideline for Sacramento, as well as former Golden State big man project Damian Jones. They, along with HB, remind Dub Nation of the fluidity of rosters over time. Here today, gone tomorrow is the nature of the NBA. I feel very grateful that the Dubs have been able to retain their three OG All-Stars, Looney, and of course Coach Kerr.

Per NBA.com, here’s the way the West’s playoff bracket is sitting currently.

If the Dubs keep climbing up the standings, there’s a chance they sneak into that sixth seed and miss the play-in tournament all together! Then again, I think I’d prefer to face Utah in the first round. Something about imagining Rudy Gobert chasing Curry and Co. around the court really tickles my fancy.

And if you haven’t checked out Apricot’s latest and greatest entry to the world famous “Explain 1 Play” series, stop messing around and step your hoops IQ up, baby!