Monday, February 22, 2010

Warriors come back to edge Hawks

Warriors fans with enough character to resist changing the channel in the third quarter (or head for the parking lot if they attended) were rewarded with a thrilling fourth quarter comeback. The Warriors competed in the first half as they have in many games this season, then hit a wall in the third, as they have in many games this season.

Don Nelson's extra diminutive line-up of Curry, Ellis, Watson, George, and Morrow allowed Al Horford, the Hawks dynamic All-Star center, to shred the Warriors inside. Horford scored a quick 9 points in a 21-8 Hawks run, pushing the lead to 73-59. This is the point when frustrated Warriors fans reached for the remote and the Hawks bus driver warmed up the engine.

Don Nelson looked like a coach eight games away from having the most wins of all time, rocking the Hawks to sleep in the third quarter. Maybe it was part of Nelly's master plan, but he made a game changing decision with the insertion of Chris Hunter into the line-up along side Andris Biedrins in the fourth quarter. The two bigs did well to expose a Hawks team that lacks a true center, as Horford is 6'9" in Timberlands and Josh Smith likes to operate on the wing. The Golden State bigs defended the paint, rebounded, and allowed Curry, Watson, and Morrow to get a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter to get right back in the game. Curry had 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Nelly's second game changing move was resting Monta Ellis for most of the fourth quarter. The combination of Curry, Morrow, and Watson has built chemistry during the time Ellis spent recovering from his knee injury last week. They share the ball and trust one another to make open shots. Nelson subbed Ellis for Morrow with 4:07 in the game, the Warriors were up 99-97. A rested Ellis brought energy on defense, made two critical steals, and shut down Joe Johnson, Atlanta's best offensive player. Curry scored 32 points and was the MVP last night, but the Warriors would not have won if not for the production from Chris Hunter.

Nelson silenced the nay sayers for now. I can see Nelson after the game smoking his Montecristo and sipping a whiskey sour, smirking to himself knowing he out- coached Mike Woodson and his playoff bound Hawks. Mike Woodson's post game speech probably borrowed phrases from former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, "They are who we thought they were!" ..."And we let em' off the hook!!!"

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