By Kavin Mistry:
Grit. Grind. Go.
The Golden State Warriors are learning how to deal with adversity as a team. In a season when the defense has been the Warriors savior in close wins, tonight was no different in the 121-111 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
After a back-breaking loss to Cleveland on Sunday when the Warriors lead by 14 and lost to another Kyrie Irving game-winning shot, Golden State came out with fire under its skin against the Raptors tonight.
The Warriors used a burst of speed, attacking the basket and draining the three with ease to dominate the first quarter. Golden State jumped out to a 25-point lead at the end of the first, including a season high 42 first-quarter points.
Sunday’s game against Cleveland certainly seemed to run through the minds of the Warriors as they came out playing with frustration, but channeled the anger into controlling the game.
However, the fast start was negated by the veteran Raptor team which came almost all the way back in the second quarter to cut the deficit to as little as five.
Raptor guards Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry were phenomenal shooting the ball tonight. Toronto’s backcourt combined for 56 points 11 rebounds and 17 assists to lead the comeback.
The Warriors countered with a 14-2 run to end the half to keep the 72-55 lead.
Historically, in the past two seasons, Golden State has dominated in the third quarter, Wednesday night proved no different. The Warriors carried the run into the third and pushed the lead to as high as 20.
Despite the big lead, it was again turnovers that plagued the Warriors and let the Raptors come back. It was the third game in a row Golden State had at least 18 turnovers, but tonight’s seemed even more costly.
It felt like deja vu for the Warriors in the fourth quarter tonight. Golden State held a 14 point lead halfway through the quarter before the Raptors brought the game within five before Stephen Curry put the game out of reach with tough plays under the basket.
Curry helped keep the Raptors at bay in the final two minutes, hitting key shots paired with timely defense by Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant to seal the win.
Durant had a tremendous night for the Warriors, he finished with 22 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists and six key blocks. He has provided the Warriors this season with something it had been missing the past few seasons: A rim protector. Highlighted by his emphatic vertical block on Derozan was big coming down the stretch.
Durant’s ability to shut down opponents making free runs at the rim have been a big part of the Warriors success this season and have become a defining factor to help the team close out games.
Golden State will look to cut down the high turnovers Friday and welcome in former Warriors to town on Friday when Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes make their first return to Oracle Arena as Mavericks.