It’s a phrase that means everything and nothing. It shadows and follows every young team that is trying to figure out how to win games. It’s the go-to answer for these Warriors, a team that knows it’s not playing for this season, as much as each individual member of the team is playing for his survival.
It’s a learning experience. Clarification rarely follows — what did you learn, exactly? But for a team heading for a lottery pick, they’re leading the NBA in learning experiences, each new opponent serving as that day’s substitute teacher.
Perhaps the Warriors have learned something. A game after yielding the final 13 points of the game in royally blowing a victory over the Thunder, the Warriors grabbed a lead and not just held on but saved sweat down the stretch, running away from the Bulls in a 104-90 victory at Chase Center on Wednesday in front of a sellout crowd of 18,064. It was just the second win in the Warriors’ (4-15) last 12 games.
Golden State could not execute in the late going against Oklahoma City, watching a lead more sprint than slip away. They didn’t know who to turn to, absent any closer, and no one stepped up for a young, needy team.
This time was different. Eric Paschall (25 points) wanted the ball each possession, though he wasn’t the star late. It was Alec Burks knocking down a step-back 3 to extend the lead to 91-83 with four and a half minutes left. It was Glenn Robinson III swishing home a deep one the next possession. It was Omari Spellman blocking Zach LaVine. It was Draymond Green, in his return from three games missed, draining the third trey in a row, which would have sealed the game had the memories of Monday not been so fresh. And it was Burks, after a nifty drive, finding Spellman under the hoop to push the lead to 14, and the Chase Center could exhale if it weren’t screaming.
They learned how to close. They also learned they have to guard Zach LaVine, who for the most part couldn’t be stopped. He was just one of two Bulls in double figures, but his 36 points was draining, his seeming to have a shovel every time Chicago appeared buried. He finished 13-of-24 from the floor and 4-of-9 from 3, a different player than he used to be with the Timber Wolves.
Apart from LaVine, though, the Warriors played perhaps their best defense of the year, and they outrebounded Chicago, 54-42, to limit chances.
The first half was defined by runs, the runnings of the Bulls coming at the game’s start and second quarter’s finish. Chicago jumped out to a 9-1 lead that was quickly erased. The Warriors used a 29-8 spurt to open up a 30-17 edge by early in the second quarter.
The Warriors’ lead was nine with a minute and a half, but a quick run by Chicago, in which Lavine sunk three free throws plus a trey, and Tomas Satoransky swished through a 3 just before the buzzer sounded chopped the halftime bulge to 53-48.
For Golden State, Paschall again was everywhere, playing well alongside Green, and getting the lion’s share of chances. Paschall was 5-for-10 with 14 points, five rebounds and an assist in the first two stanzas, frequently showing off the strength that allows him to get anywhere on the court.
At one point, Paschall faked Satoransky into the sky, then tried to dunk Wendell Carter Jr. into the ground, instead getting fouled on one of the more electrifying plays of the game. Another moment, late in the second, Paschall was dished into the lane, knifed through the defense and again rocked the rim. For a player who’s just as comfortable taking a step out — he sunk his only 3-point attempt in the half — it is easy to see how he’ll fit in with new year’s team.
That was expected. Jordan Poole’s contribution was not. The struggling rookie was plus-10 for the half, coming up with a few funky layups for a quiet, but effective, four points in the half.
Eric Paschall, destroyer of worlds pic.twitter.com/vwXpRE2Ssk
— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) November 28, 2019
For Chicago, the game plan was to get the ball to LaVine and get out of the way. Two games after the shooting guard threatened Klay Thompson’s record by knocking down 13-of-17 3s, LaVine was again hot, going 8-for-16 from the field and 4-of-7 from deep in the half for 23 points.