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The New Warriors
by Matt Forsman on Mar 04, 2005
One of the many challenges the Warriors have faced this season is the lack of a reliable scorer aside from Jason Richardson. Often tasked with carrying the offensive load, JR has performed spectacularly this season, but definitely could use some assistance. With the trade deadline looming, Warriors management pulled off one of the highest profile trades, shipping Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis to New Orleans for Baron Davis. Davis, a two time All Star has been injured most of this season. But, when healthy, Davis has been a consistent scorer.
Davis would not be on the floor for the Warriors last Wednesday when Golden State squared off against the win starved Hawks, but as it turns out, the Warriors wouldn't need him. Atlanta and Golden State exchanged jump shots for most of the first quarter and the score remained tight. Atlanta finished the first quarter with a one-point lead, 27-26. The second quarter was marked by a painful 4.5 minute Atlanta scoring drought. The Warriors seized upon this opportunity and headed to the locker room up by ten, 58-48.
Atlanta fared somewhat better in the third quarter, but the Warriors led by Jason Richardson and Speedy Claxton headed into the decisive quarter with an eight point lead, 81-73. A nearly five minute Warriors dry spell let the woeful Hawks back into the game, trailing 83-86 with just under six minutes left in the game. The trio of Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, and Derek Fisher extended the Warriors lead to eight before yet another Golden State scoring drought allowed the Hawks to get within striking distance. Jason Richardson hit a pair of clutch free throws to sew up the win, 101-99.
The world champion Detroit Pistons arrived in Oakland riding a league leading win streak and seemingly re-discovering the form that led them to their ring last season. But, the main attraction on Sunday was the Golden State debut of Baron Davis. Oakland Arena was electric and Davis was given a standing ovation when he entered the game midway through the first quarter. Down by one upon entering, Davis made some key plays and brought an energy to the floor that has been largely absent for most of this season. Golden State headed into the second quarter up 29-25.
Davis and crew continued to perform solidly in the second quarter, extending the lead to nine for Golden state before Detroit realized they could ill afford to take these 'new look' Warriors lightly. The Pistons rallied in the latter stage of the second quarter and erased Golden State's lead and headed into the third quarter with a one point lead, 46-45.
The Warriors struggled in the third quarter, as the Pistons seemed to find their groove with Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince hitting key free throws and jump shots to extend their lead to seven midway through the third quarter. Unable to match the Pistons scoring, the Warriors found themselves down by twelve at the beginning of the fourth quarter, 78-66. The Warriors went on a tear early in the fourth with contributions from Jason Richardson, Baron Davis, and Adonal Foyle, cutting the Pistons lead to two. Detroit wisely called a timeout to regroup. Golden State refused to go down without a fight, but eventually succumbed to a more talented and poised Detroit team, 94-88.
While the beginning of the Baron Davis era did not result in a win, few could argue Golden State played well against the world champions. The Warriors headed to Memphis on Tuesday to face the rejuvenated Grizzlies. Having recently knocked off the Western Conference leading San Antonio Spurs, the Grizzlies were eager to extend their winning ways against Golden State. Spotty shooting by both teams marked the first quarter. The Warriors took a meager one point lead, 23-22, into the second quarter.
Golden State held onto the lead for most of the second quarter as Memphis continued to struggle offensively. Up by three with just under two minutes left in the first half, Golden State called a timeout. Memphis would go a 10-4 run in the final two and a half minutes, seizing a three-point lead heading into the third quarter. Several Golden State miscues and a trio of treys by Memphis extended the Grizzlies lead to nine before the Warriors took a timeout. Unfortunately, Golden State failed to find an offensive rhythm and Memphis continued their hot shooting ways forcing the Warriors to take a time out down 82-66.
The fourth quarter started with Golden State staring down the barrel of an eleven-point deficit, not dissimilar from the position they were in against Detroit on Sunday. In the waning minutes of the fourth, Jason Richardson hit a duo of three pointers to pull the Warriors within two with just under three minutes to play. Baron Davis made a key driving layup to cut the lead to one with less than a minute to play. Unfortunately, Golden State was unable to turn the tide, eventually falling to Memphis, 99-97.
Golden State heads to Minnesota on Wednesday to face a struggling Timberwolves team and finishes their week in Washington on Friday. While the Baron Davis era has yet to produce any wins, Golden State has competed at a high level against the world champion Pistons and a Grizzlies team jockeying for playoff contention in the tough Western Conference. A Warriors win may yet be on the horizon.
by Matt Forsman on Mar 04, 2005