|Related Articles: Basketball, All|
Warriors Live Up To Their Moniker
by Matt Forsman on Mar 25, 2005
The 2004-2005 campaign for the Golden State Warriors has provided few opportunities to celebrate. There was a four game winning streak in December, promptly followed by a losing streak more than twice as long. January was a barren wasteland with a single victory. February and March have been a very different story. Whether it's the arrival of Baron Davis or a team that has finally started to gel (or both), the Warriors have won three in a row against tough Western Conference opponents and appear to be poised to post the most wins in a single month for the season as March winds down.
Golden State's Northern California rival, the Sacramento Kings came to the Coliseum last Thursday. Sacramento has struggled since they shipped Chris Webber to Philadelphia. An injured Brad Miller didn't help Sacramento's cause either as they tipped off against the Warriors. Jason Richardson and Baron Davis took control of the game early and had Sacramento down by double digits halfway through the first quarter. The sharp shooting duo of Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic kept Sacramento in the game, but the Warriors consistent scoring gave them an 11 point lead heading into the second quarter, 34-23.
A solid offensive effort by the Warriors and a cold shooting Sacramento gave Golden State a comfortable 21-point cushion in the second quarter. Cutino Mobley answered with three straight three pointers cutting into the Warriors sizable lead. Golden State held onto a nine-point lead as the first half came to a close. Sacramento got its act together in the third quarter as the trio of Peja Stojakovic, Cutino Mobley, and Brian Skinner cut the lead to one with a series of three pointers and jump shots. The game appeared to be slipping away from the Warriors. However, the Warriors battled back and pulled out an upset, 100-99 over the Kings in Oakland.
Buoyed by a huge win over the Kings, Golden State headed to Phoenix for a match up against a team that has become one of the best in the Western Conference with Steve Nash at the helm. Baron Davis and Jason Richardson led the charge in the first quarter with Derek Fisher hitting a pair of three pointers towards the end of the first quarter, giving Golden State a 31-26 lead heading into the second. Amare Stoudemire led a Phoenix rally, but Baron Davis hit a crucial three pointer and some key free throws down the stretch to keep the Warriors up by one, 54-53, heading into the locker room.
Again, Phoenix rallied in the third quarter eventually taking a two-point lead towards the end, but Golden State wasn't about to concede. Phoenix was forced to take a timeout down by three midway through the fourth quarter. This timeout brought the Warrior's offense back to life as Baron Davis hit a three pointer and a driving layup en route to opening up a ten-point lead with two and a half minutes left. Golden State almost made this win look easy, handling Western Conference powerhouse Phoenix, 110-100.
Golden State finished off the week with a rematch against the Kings in Sacramento. The Warriors came out hot with Troy Murphy hitting two three pointers and sparking an 11-0 run that forced Sacramento to huddle up and regroup. Peja Stojakovic and Darius Songaila turned things around for Sacramento and eventually took the lead, 27-25, by quarter's end. The Kings held onto the lead for the most of the second quarter before a layup by Golden State's Rodney White gave the Warriors the lead with under five minutes in the half. The first half would end in a deadlock, 51-51.
Mickael Pietrus and the surprising Zarko Cabarkapa provided an offensive spark for the Warriors in the third quarter as Golden state reclaimed the lead forcing Sacramento to take a time out down by nine. Troy Murphy and Baron Davis helped extend the lead to twelve coming out of the timeout before some Kenny Thomas and Mike Bibby cut the Warriors' lead to 80-72 heading into the final quarter. Mike Dunleavy heated up in the fourth quarter extending Golden State's lead to twelve before a Peja Stojakovic three pointer cut the lead in half. With less than a minute left to play, Sacramento was forced to foul Golden State in a desperate effort to steal a win. The Warriors were not about to let this happen and sewed up the win 104-94. This victory was even more impressive as Golden State did not have the assistance of leading scorer Jason Richardson who was absent for personal reasons.
The Warriors will face yet another playoff bound Western Conference foe in the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. Golden State has lost two of three against Dallas this year. But, given the Warriors excellent wins over Phoenix and Sacramento, a win over the Mavericks doesn't seem so far fetched. The week ends with Golden State hosting the middling Milwaukee Bucks. If the Warriors can bring the same kind of presence they exhibited against Sacramento and Phoenix, Milwaukee may end up looking like a deer in the headlights.
by Matt Forsman on Mar 25, 2005