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Warriors Wrap

A Season Comes to a Close…

Last week marked the end of Golden State’s eight game win streak after falling to San Antonio and Denver. However, Golden State forced the Spurs to two overtimes before finally succumbing and the Nuggets have been going supernova since George Karl took over coaching duties. So, there was little shame in falling to two teams that will likely make waves in the playoffs.

Golden State faced a team clinging desperately to rapidly waning playoff hopes this past Wednesday in the Minnesota Timberwolves. This team barely resembles the team that went all the way to the Western Conference finals last year. Yet, a flickering ember of hope remained for the T-Wolves as the Warriors came to town.

The Wolves came out flat allowing the Warriors to surge to a 7-0 lead before Minnesota took a timeout to regroup. Kevin Garnett found his MVP level play from last year and brought the T-Wolves back into the game knotting things up halfway through the first quarter. Minnesota would ultimately take the lead into the second quarter, 30-24. The T-Wolves continued to control the tempo in the second quarter. Golden State pulled to within two a couple times, but Minnesota closed out the half with a 6-0 run giving the Timberwolves an eight point lead at the end of the second quarter.

Minnesota extended their lead to as many as thirteen points in the third quarter behind the solid shooting of Kevin Garnett and Latrell Sprewell. Again Golden State rallied with Baron Davis and Mike Dunleavy leading the charge. In a carbon copy of the second quarter, the T-Wolves surged again and headed into the fourth quarter up, 86-77. Golden State came out fired up in the final quarter cutting Minnesota’s lead to four several times, but failing to seize control of the game. Again, Latrell Sprewell and Kevin Garnett would extend Minnesota’s lead to fourteen with five minutes left in the game. Unable to summon one last rally, Golden State fell to the T-Wolves, 116-100.

Golden State returned to Oakland for their last three games of the season. The imploding Portland Trailblazers paid a visit on Friday with few thoughts save a lengthy summer to forget a disastrous season. The Warriors were jonesing for an opportunity to reclaim their winning ways. Things got off to a quick start in the first quarter with a combined 33 points in the first 6 minutes. A quartet of three pointers allowed the Warriors to close out the first quarter with a five point advantage, 37-32. Zarko Cabarkapa helped Golden State maintain the lead in the first six minutes of the second quarter. Andris Biedrins chipped in a few shots to extend the Warrior’s lead to twelve with a few minutes left in the half.

The Warriors led by ten at the beginning of the second half. Both teams struggled offensively in the initial going, but Golden State still maintained an eight point advantage with just less than six minutes left in the quarter. Baron Davis and Troy Murphy got hot late in the quarter and extended the Warriors’ lead to fifteen with one quarter of ball left to play. Portland effectively ran out of gas in the fourth quarter and found themselves fourteen points in the hole with just under six minutes to play. Baron Davis and Mickael Pietrus made scored the final points for Golden State, sewing up an eighteen point win, 108-90.

Monday brought the free falling Los Angeles Lakers to town. A team that was in the NBA Finals last year is now jockeying for lottery position. Golden State was more than interested in pouring salt in the wound. LA’s Chucky Atkins gave the Lakers a quick advantage by hitting two quick three pointers. Jason Richardson and Mike Dunleavy turned things around in a hurry and gave Golden State the lead a few minutes later. A 9-1 Golden State run in the final two minutes gave the Warriors a seven point advantage at the end of the first quarter.

The Warriors offense heated up early in the second quarter and doubled their seven point lead forcing LA to regroup. Kobe Bryant and Jumaine Jones helped pull the Lakers within six with under six minutes to play. Golden State extended their lead again behind Jason Richardson and Jumaine Jones. The Lakers struggled to find an answer and finished the quarter down, 51-62 to the Warriors.

Kobe Bryant would help the Lakers pull to within three points midway through the third quarter before Baron Davis and Mickael Pietrus kickstarted a 10-3 run. Golden State erupted after the timeout with a trio of three pointers from Troy Murphy. Los Angeles faced a nearly insurmountable obstacle, down 98-77 heading into the final quarter. Los Angeles effectively went to lunch in the last quarter allowing the Warriors to blow up the lead to an absurd 40 points with just under four minutes left. Golden State cruised to a 122-96 win over the punchless Lakers.

Golden State’s 2004-2005 campaign concludes with a home game against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. Little is at stake at this juncture as the playoffs haven’t been on the Warriors radar for a couple months. However, given the stellar level of play Golden State has exhibited these past few months, one can expect the Warriors to come out with energy and end the season on a high note.

While yet another season ends without an invitation to the playoffs, Golden State showed in the latter part of the season that they have the talent and teamwork to challenge the best teams in the league. If management can keep the nucleus of this team together for next season, there’s little doubt this is a team that will contend for a playoff spot.