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The Road Warriors
by Matt Forsman on Mar 11, 2005
The Baron Davis era began last week with two disappointing losses. Granted, one was against Detroit and Golden State pushed the champion Pistons to the limit. The second was on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies and once again, it was only in the waning minutes that this game was decided. These new look Warriors are actively knocking on victory's door, unfortunately no one has yet answered.
On Wednesday, Golden State headed to Minnesota to face a struggling Timberwolves team. The T-Wolves made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals last year before falling to the Lakers. Expectations were high this year for Kevin Garnett and crew. So far, they have only disappointed as Minnesota finds themselves out of the top eight in the Western Conference.
The Warriors came out hot with Jason Richardson scoring six points and Minnesota found themselves down 10-4 to Golden State. Kevin Garnett and Latrell Sprewell provided a much-needed spark for the T-Wolves regaining the lead with five minutes left in the first quarter. Minnesota would close out the first quarter up, 27-20.
Golden State pulled to within three in the early going, but the Warriors were unable to sustain any offensive rhythm. Sharp shooting by Kevin Garnett and Wally Szczerbiak allowed Minnesota to take a seven-point lead into the locker room, 51-44.
In the third quarter, Minnesota's Szczerbiak and Garnett again posted the majority of the points for the T-Wolves while Golden State's Derek Fisher almost single-handedly kept the Warriors in the game. Fisher's superb shooting in the third, however, did not result in Golden State evening things up. Down by five heading into the fourth, Golden State needed to find some answers soon.
Two Adonal Foyle buckets and a trey by Derek Fisher forced Minnesota to regroup as the Warriors tied the game up at 75 apiece. After the timeout, the T-Wolves offense went on vacation while Golden State started to find their groove with Jason Richardson and Mike Dunleavy hit a pair of baskets each and extending the Warriors lead to nine. While Minnesota was able to pull within four, Jason Richardson insured Golden State would not go away empty handed hitting some clutch three pointers down the stretch for a Warriors win, 99-93.
Next up on Golden State's road trip were the Washington Wizards. The Wiz are a literal Warriors refugee camp with former Warriors Larry Hughes, Gilbert Arenas, and Antawn Jamison populating the starting five for Washington. Neither team was in sync offensively in the first quarter as both teams struggled from the outside. A trio of three pointers by Golden State cued a late run that resulted in a Warriors lead, 27-19 at the end of the first quarter.
The Wizards stepped things up in the second quarter and cut into Golden State's lead. Several times, Washington knotted up the score, but were unable to assume the lead. Former Warriors Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes led the charge as the Wizards entered the third quarter down by 2, 51-53.
Washington was able to keep things tight in the opening minutes with a key three pointer by Antawn Jamison. Still down by two four and half minutes into the third, Washington called a timeout to regroup. The Warriors would go on a tear, opening up an eleven-point lead while the Wizards found themselves without a bucket for four minutes.
The Warriors were up by eleven heading into the deciding quarter. Jason Richardson was unstoppable in the fourth quarter scoring 16 of his 34 total points in this single quarter. Unable to formulate any substantive rally, the Wizards fell to the Warriors, 103-90.
After two tough road wins, Golden State headed to New York for a game against the Knicks. Fighting for their playoff lives, the Knicks entered the game on the heels of one of their worst defensive efforts of the season in a 22-point loss to the Orlando Magic.
The Knicks controlled most of the first quarter seizing a 25-13 advantage with about four minutes to play. Mike Sweetney and Stephon Marbury had the hot hand and gave the Knicks a 32-27 lead heading into the second quarter.
Some cold shooting by New York and a three pointer each from Baron Davis and Derek Fisher allowed the Warriors to assume a three-point lead roughly four minutes into the second quarter. Golden State barely had an opportunity to savor this advantage before the Knicks struck back. Tim Thomas and Maurice Taylor turned it up a notch and gave the Knicks a ten-point lead at the end of the first half, 60-50.
Some early three pointers by Jason Richardson and Troy Murphy brought the Warriors back within striking distance by the midway point of the third quarter. New York's lead eventually dissolved into a deadlock at 72 apiece before Malik Rose and Stephon Marbury hit some key shots down the stretch giving New York a six-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Warriors would reclaim a one-point lead off a Jason Richardson three pointer four minutes into the decisive quarter. The Knicks put the clamps on Golden State; not a paltry three points over a six plus minute span. Meanwhile, Stephon and crew pulled away from the stifled Warriors turning a tight contest into a blowout with a final score of 115-99 in favor of New York.
Golden State's roadtrip continued on Tuesday with a stop in Philadelphia. Initially jubilant over the acquisition of Chris Webber, Philadelphia fans have quickly become impatient as Webber has yet to gel with his new team. Philly came out hot with an 8-0 run. Golden State's Troy Murphy found his touch converting a dunk and a couple jump shots to put the Warriors back in the game. The Warriors would ride this momentum to a one-point advantage at the end of the first quarter, 24-23.
The Warriors played a solid second quarter with Mickael Pietrus hitting two three pointers and shouldering most of Golden State's offensive output. Conversely, Philadelphia's Chris Webber was largely a non-factor, failing to score a single point in the second quarter. The result was Golden State starting the second half with a six-point advantage, 42-36.
Philadelphia continued to struggle in the third quarter, hitting a single bucket in the first three minutes while the Warriors extended the lead to ten. Seemingly unable to stop the bleeding, the 76ers called a timeout finding themselves down by fifteen. Allen Iverson and Rodney Rogers helped cut the lead to nine by the end of the third.
Golden State continued to play solid offense in the fourth quarter racking up 92 points halfway through the final quarter and blowing their lead up to sixteen forcing the flailing 76ers to take a time out. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, there would be no answers. Jason Richardson delivered the coup de grace with a three pointer that gave Golden State a twenty-point lead with three minutes to play.
The Warriors will scarcely have time to savor their second road win in a row as they travel to Detroit to face the Pistons on Wednesday. An exhausting week of road games continues on Friday in Indiana against the Pacers and concludes on Saturday with a game against the Hawks in Atlanta. Given Golden State's surprising 3-2 record on this latest road trip, perhaps 'Road Warriors' is a more appropriate moniker for this team.
by Matt Forsman on Mar 11, 2005