Dressed in navy blue with dashes of orange and gold Wednesday night, the Warriors wearing their Oakland-inspired uniforms looked more like the dominant team that closed out Oracle Arena with five-straight Finals runs than the one rebuilding since the move to San Francisco.
In Golden State’s 121-99 win over the San Antonio Spurs at Chase Center, guard Stephen Curry led a thrilling offensive performance complete with made 3-pointers, crisp ball movement and rim-rocking dunks. The Warriors (8-6) assisted on 31 of their 46 made field goals and shot 51.1% overall.
Curry, who finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, made a stepback 3-pointer with 1:10 left in the second quarter to crown a 19-2 run and extend the lead to 22 points in this wire-to-wire win against the Spurs (8-7).
Below, four takeaways from the Warriors’ win.
Great start from the starters: Entering the game, head coach Steve Kerr had hoped his starting group that has been mostly outscored so far this season would get out to a better start. By the time Kevon Looney and Kent Bazemore checked in midway through the first quarter, the starters were a plus-seven over the Spurs and set the pace for the game with good ball movement, shot-making and disciplined defense. The Warriors had a 12-point lead to start the second quarter when the bench unit came in.
“We made them take tough shots, and we finally rebounded the basketball across the board,” Curry said. “We just made things easy on ourselves.”
Curry does it all on offense: When it comes to Curry, the dazzling dribble moves and tricky 3-point shooting fill highlight packages on YouTube. This game had several of those moments, from his behind-the-back escape against Patty Mills to his and-1 3-pointer after getting fouled by Dejounte Murray (22 points). But perhaps his greatest contribution was his screen-setting. Especially in the first quarter, when Curry set a pin-down that led to a James Wiseman jumper, helped spring a Draymond Green drive and Kelly Oubre Jr. for a cutting dunk with a back screen.
This will unlock a lot of easy shots for his teammates going forward. As dangerous as Curry is as a shooter running around the arc, he’s arguably even more threatening as a screen-setter. The fear of him popping and shooting coaxes defenders into mistakes. Here, you can see Keldon Johnson go over a screen on Green while Murray refuses to help off Curry.
Steph the screener.
Dray the driver.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) January 21, 2021
It was Wiseman’s most complete game of his career: On that play, notice Wiseman lurking in the dunker spot. He made this space under the rim on the baseline his home Wednesday night. Wiseman finished with 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting, six rebounds and four assists. (Also striking: Zero 3-point attempts.) Four of his made field goals came on finishes out of this dunker spot.
When the Spurs narrowed Golden State’s lead to five in the second quarter, it was Wiseman’s lob finishes that helped the Warriors pull away.
“I just think we found a little rhythm offensively and put a lot of pressure on San Antonio’s defense,” Kerr said. “James has a feeling and knows where to be with the timing of the lobs.”
Added Wiseman: “I feel it is like one of my best games in terms of floor-spacing and on defense as well because I was being vocal.”
Defensively, Wiseman held LaMarcus Aldridge to four points and three rebounds. This was a game when Wiseman looked 19 and Aldridge looked 35, but in a way that favors the younger, springier player. Wiseman also did a nice job defending San Antonio’s perimeter players in space. After biting on one of DeMar DeRozan’s pump fakes and getting called for a foul early in the game, he stayed down on the next one and contested the shot. Wiseman credits Green for coaching him through it.
“He gives me tips on how to get better,” Wiseman said of Green, who finished with nine points and six assists. “That’s what I like — that constructive criticism. I just make sure that I listen.”
Golden State’s defense put the clamps on: The Warriors’ defense has gotten better as the season went on, but it has never looked as dominant as it did Wednesday. The Spurs had a hard time getting to the basket and making 3-pointers as Golden State forced them into a ton of tough mid-range jumpers. The Spurs were held to 36.6% shooting overall and 4-for-33 from 3-point range. The Warriors also out-rebounded the Spurs 54-43 and scored 21 fastbreak points.
“When the defensive is clicking like that,” said Andrew Wiggins, “it leads to the offense really getting into a nice rhythm.”
Concluded Kerr: “It was the best two-way game we’ve played all year.”
Contributed by local news sources