After suffering a horrendous nine game losing streak, the Golden State Warriors Head Coach Don Nelson expressed a huge sigh of relief after his team edged out a narrow victory in Oklahoma on December 8.
Nelson said, "We didn't win the world championship, but it sure felt like it."
Two nights later on December 10, Nelson preached defense from the sidelines as the Warriors faced off against the Milwaukee Bucks. With Corey Maggette and Brandan Wright unavailable due to injuries, Nelson effectively inserted every player on the floor except Marcus Williams.
However, the surprise arrived from four players most would have not expected to play this well even in an exhibition game: Kelenna Azubuike, CJ Watson, Marco Belinelli, and Anthony Morrow combined for 63 of the Warriors' 119 points against the Bucks.
Most importantly, every aforementioned player illustrated what the 68-year old coach had been missing.
Marco Belinelli performed with tremendous confidence (including some nifty passes and a behind the board shot that got the fans wild), Azubuike played his usual stellar defense with the aggressive drives, CJ Watson could not miss a shot (while grabbing a critical rebound from Andrew Bogut!), and Anthony Morrow showed his outside touch the Warriors were lacking.
The Warriors' three captains in Stephen Jackson (who played with an injured left hand), Andris Biedrins, and Ronny Turiaf, played an all around excellent game emphasizing the contagious "passing".
Jackson had 21 points, eight assists, and 4 steals! Ronny Turiaf had 11 points, 5 rebounds, and four blocked shots in 29 crucial minutes.
Biedrins, with a phenomenal game, had 18 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocks. The lanky Latvian center forced Oracle Arena on its feet as he blocked Charlie Villanueva's dunk attempt.
In addition, Biedrins had enough confidence in Belinelli's shot as he grabbed an offensive rebound and just handed the ball off to Belinelli for a three pointer.
Jamaal Crawford meanwhile struggled from the field going two for eight but he did add 7 seven assists in 32 minutes.
- The Team is performing better without Maggette. The powerful small forward's style and selfishness cannot and will not benefit this team.
- Marcus Williams was on the inactive list today. Rob Kurz wasn't. Period.
- Anthony Randolph played limited minutes due to his recovery from a hand injury. He did, however, have an emphatic dunk in garbage time on a nice feed from Azubuike.
- Jackson receives another Technical.
- Highlights of the game
- Belinelli's fade way shot from behind the backboard!
- Biedrins' monster block on Villanueva dunk attempt.
- Turiaf's incredible blocks on a variety of different Bucks' players.