In a game that started off so well for the Warriors, with Steph Curry and Andrew Bogut getting anything that they wanted to fall, the Jazz made a 7-0 run to finish out the first quarter. And while Klay Thompson continued to disappoint from the field all game, going 3-of-20 from the field, he did play reasonably well on the other side of the ball. I have been a firm believer of Klay’s ability to play excellent defense against the two-guards as well as small forwards. His versatility on offense is great when he has his shot working because he can post up those smaller guards while taking the bigger guys out for three...but that "when" is more of an "if" at this point. In terms of defense, though, here’s one look where he was able to manage defending the 6’9” Jeremy Evans. Off the pick-and-roll with Gordon Hayward, Thompson follows Evans down into the in the post effectively, first not allowing him to get position deep in the low block. Then, without fouling, Thompson forces Evans to turn into the help defense and wall that is Andrew Bogut. End result: throwing up an airball lay-up.
Now is that enough to compensate for his abysmal shooting performance? Definitely not… especially when you consider how poor he’s shot over the past two weeks.
In the past 7 games, Klay is 37 for 113 from the field (32.7 percent).— Elijah Abramson (@ElijahAbramson) February 1, 2014
However, Steph Curry was nailing everything from everywhere in vintage Curry fashion. 8-of-13 from three and 44 points on an overlooked mere two turnovers. To say Curry had no help is not much of an underestimation considering he and Bogut (16 points) combined for two-thirds of the total points that Golden State scored.
Jordan Crawford, who became a facilitator in Thursday night’s game against the Clippers is struggling scoring off the bench for the Warriors as well, sporting a horrendous 2-of-12 from the field in Thursday and Fridays games. Harrison Barnes similarly could not buy a bucket, finishing 2-of-10 from the field and continuing his tremendous struggles in the new year. Barnes has only been in double figures two more times (4) in 2014 than he hasn’t scored a single point (2) and clearly his role as the lead man of the second team has not worked out how the Warriors had envisioned it would with the Andre Iguodala pick-up. His jumpshot has flattened out and with defenders sagging off in the lane when he drives it just is not pretty to watch. Barnes, who looked like an All-Star in the making during the 2013 playoffs, has backtracked significantly.
The Jazz were never behind (or ahead) enough to bring out the great Andris Biedrins for a reunion with his former squad; however, he and Richard Jefferson still did combine to score more (five points) than the player they cleared space for, Andre Iguodala (four points).
Utah had four players in double figures (Jeremy Evans, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, and Diante Garrett) but, like the Warriors, had no support behind that. While the free throw shooting and rebounding comparisons were even, the Jazz shot significantly better from the field (48 to 38 percent). Despite that huge margin, the difference was turnovers where the Warriors won that battle 18-8. Taking care of the ball is a facet of the game where the Warriors struggled up until recently, so if they can all phases of the game together, they will certainly be a formidable team in the West.
Again, Friday night, Andrew Bogut was the only one who was helping Curry offensively with David Lee sitting out due to injury. Bogut gave the Warriors the lead in the fourth with 5:30 to-go from which they never looked back. If you squint your eyes tightly enough, you might mistake him for David Lee with Curry in the P&R...and then maybe Curry himself with the teardrop in the lane.
Bogut may cover some weaknesses, but for the Warriors to beat good teams, there needs to be some consistency from the non-Curry wing players. Thankfully those good teams don’t start just yet and the Warriors have three days to work out some kinks in preparation for another game at Oracle against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats.