On a few occasions this season, Stephen Curry has reminded the world he’s the best shooter in it. Draymond Green often has demonstrated he’s an all-planet defender and leader. James Wiseman has shown flashes of brilliance. In spurts, Andrew Wiggins has looked like a quality contributor who can play excellent defense, as Kelly Oubre Jr. does.
They have happened in isolation for the most part, though. Until Wednesday.
On a day in which the United States turned the page to the next chapter, the Warriors hope they did, too. Playing on a Chase Center floor that paid tribute to their Oakland roots, the Warriors paid tribute to their recent dynasty, their best players playing best in a 121-99 rout of the Spurs.
Count 'em pic.twitter.com/8qRDKAioSz
— KNBR (@KNBR) January 21, 2021
The Warriors’ (8-6) starting five did the damage, playing a selfless style that helped result in 31 assists on 46 made baskets. It was run through Curry, who attacked more than ever because he was face-guarded wherever he went and often ran into double-teams from San Antonio’s pseudo box-and-one. He led the Warriors with seven assists (plus 11 rebounds), head always up, legs always churning regardless how hard he needed to work just to receive the ball.
When he could get a glimpse of the hoop, he capitalized. With a dazzling dribbling array and frequent use of the backboard on floaters, Curry had a relatively quiet 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting and 4-of-8 from deep.
Twenty of those points came in the first half as the Warriors opened up a 64-45 lead at the break. A 16-0 run in the second virtually sealed the game, in which Curry drilled a 3 then, on the next possession, laid up a beautiful alley oop for Wiseman. Green then did the same, finding the big man who played his best game as a Warrior.
Wiggins (18 points on 7-of-12) was excellent. Green was a plus-24 while scoring just nine points. Oubre went 2-for-4 from deep. But the biggest development came from the big man.
Wiseman showed off the diversity of his game earlier this season, the 7-footer with impressive range and a ready trigger. That was forgotten about Wednesday.
He dunked, and then he dunked some more. Green has mastered the art of throwing the ball up and awaiting for Wiseman to hurdle onto a trampoline and go soaring through the air.
It took just 11 shots for Wiseman to record 20 of the easiest points a big man can score, a higher-end JaVale McGee. The 19-year-old knew where to be — or maybe Green was just extra loud in telling him where to be — and added six rebounds and four assists in a nice all-around game.
He had played just 12:51 of the Warriors’ win over the Lakers on Saturday, registering a minus-19 plus-minus in his worst game of the year. Perhaps Golden State has figured out the best way to utilize him: putting him under the hoop to await a lob rather than stretching out his game.
His most impressive spurts resulted from his playing without the ball and muscling his way toward spots that teenagers should not be able to get to in the NBA. The Warriors as a whole excelled without the ball Wednesday.
That’s D way
The most telling statistic from Gregg Popovich’s Spurs (8-7), who were coming off wins over the Trail Blazers and Rockets and had scored at least 100 points in 11 of their past 12 straight games: 4-of-33 (9.4 percent) from 3.
Fresh paint 🎨 pic.twitter.com/No1PgNxNTj
— KNBR (@KNBR) January 21, 2021
Before the game, Steve Kerr called Wednesday “a huge day obviously in our nation’s history and for the Bay Area as well,” as Joe Biden became president and Oakland native Kamala Harris vice president.
The frequent Trump critic, like a lot of the country, sounded relieved.
“It was beautiful,” Kerr said. “It was just really nice to hear calming words and a lot of civility and empathy and to see a lot of diversity. It was a beautiful day. I thought it was really well done.”