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The Hottest Team in California
by Matt Forsman on Apr 08, 2005
With a few weeks left in the season, teams are pushing for a spot in the playoffs. The Warriors are peaking at exactly the right time of the season. Golden State is 13-7 since the All Star Break and ESPN have Warriors at a season high #17 in the "Power Rankings" (five higher than the LA Lakers). Unfortunately for Golden State, the playoffs have been a foregone conclusion for at least a month. If only Baron Davis had been acquired a bit sooner.
Last Wednesday, Golden State tipped off against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Warriors had recently stolen a victory in overtime against the Bucks in Oakland. Only a few games removed from this win, Golden State was looking for an encore. The Bucks came out hot in the first quarter sprinting to a 32-24 lead heading into the second quarter behind the trio of Maurice Williams, Joe Smith, and Michael Redd.
A Milwaukee scoring drought in the second quarter allowed Golden State an opportunity to take control. Mickael Pietrus and Jason Richardson were all to eager to oblige and put the Warriors in command at the end of the first half, 60-52.
Things tightened up in the third quarter as the Bucks rediscovered their offense and evened out the score at 81 apiece with two seconds left. Derek Fisher predictably hit a clutch three pointer at the buzzer to give Golden State a 84-81 lead with one quarter left. Baron Davis took over in the fourth quarter displaying his full arsenal. Dunks, three pointers, layups, and assists from Davis drove the Warriors to their second victory over the Bucks in five days, 113-109.
Golden State's road trip continued in Utah on Friday against the flailing Jazz. Utah got off to a hot start at the beginning of the season, but has gradually descended into the abyss since. Carrying the baggage of a 19 game losing streak in Salt Lake City, the Warriors were eager to set a new precedent.
The Warriors had difficulty finding their offensive rhythm in the first quarter as Utah's Matt Harpring drove the Jazz to a 29-25 lead at the end of the first quarter. Golden State warmed up in the second quarter while Utah went ice cold missing layups and turning the ball over multiple times. Utah's miscues allowed Golden State to erase the deficit and take over. At the break, the Warriors were up 52-43.
Golden State continued to pour it on in the third quarter as the Warriors hit four three pointers, extending their lead to 78-61 heading into the decisive quarter. Utah's fortunes did not improve in the fourth as Golden State's lead was as large as 25 and the Jazz continued to struggle. The Warriors would prevail for their seventh win in eight games, 108-91.
Riding a four game win streak back to Oakland, the Warriors hosted the Seattle Sonics on Sunday. Seattle had an opportunity to clinch a division title with a win over Golden State. But, Baron Davis and the win hungry Warriors had different ideas.
Golden State took control early in the first quarter behind a solid team offensive effort with Jason Richardson and Baron Davis controlling the tempo. The Warriors led 27-22 at the beginning of the second quarter. Seattle kept things close in the second quarter behind the efforts of Ray Allen and Ronald Murray. Seattle's offense was out of synch in the latter part of the second quarter, allowing Golden State to head into the second half with a nine-point advantage, 50-41.
Seattle found themselves continuing to struggle offensively in the third quarter while the Warriors continued to roll with Baron Davis and Jason Richardson cueing the offense. Golden State held onto their nine-point lead entering the final quarter. The Sonics failed to mount any substantive rally and called a timeout to regroup with just under three minutes left in the game. Staring down an eleven-point deficit, the Sonics were running out of time to clinch a division title. Seattle would cut the lead to six before Mike Dunleavy hit two three pointers effectively clinching the game for Golden State. The Warriors would go on to win, 101-92.
The Houston Rockets visited Oakland on Tuesday clinging to the sixth position in the playoff race and carrying the baggage of two straight losses. The Warriors came out aggressive going on a 7-0 run to start the game. The Rockets battled back behind the efforts of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady to bring Houston within 1. Baron Davis contributed six points in the final two minutes of the quarter to give the Warriors and eight point lead heading into the second quarter.
The Warriors held the Rockets at bay and continued to execute offensively extending their lead to as much as twelve in the second quarter. Houston began warming up in the latter part of the second half following a Golden State timeout, tying things up at 50 apiece in the final thirty seconds of the half. Three Baron Davis free throws gave the Warriors a three-point lead heading into the third quarter.
The Rockets' Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming kept the game tight, but Baron Davis and Jason Richardson would not surrender Golden State's lead and headed into the fourth quarter with a five-point lead. Houston came out cold in the fourth quarter allowing Golden State to extend their lead to twelve points midway through the final quarter. The Warriors weathered two minutes of garbage time before sealing the victory with a final score of 121-117.
Having won nine of their last ten, Golden State heads to Portland for a chance to win their 30th game of the season on Wednesday. The Warriors play host to the Phoenix Suns on Friday and finish the week against on Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs. While not playoff bound, few can argue that the Warriors are playing playoff caliber ball.
by Matt Forsman on Apr 08, 2005