Stephen Jackson returned from injury with a bang. The Golden State Warriors seemed to have temporarily returned to life as well, with an unbelievable 99-89 triumph over the Boston Celtics on the day after Christmas.
The Warriors gave the Celtics their first two-game losing streak since March 2008. In addition, the Warriors have recorded their fifth straight home win over the best team in the league.
"Defensively I thought we were good, solid, and strong. Offensively we were good until the fourth quarter and then we were great," head coach Don Nelson said.
The fans were outstanding, as memories of the 2007 playoffs immediately resounded. The "Let's Go Warriors!" chants were constant throughout the final quarter of play. Furthermore, the fans were up and standing for the final five minutes of regulation!
"It reminded me of a couple of years ago when we played Dallas in the playoffs," Nelson said.
By halftime, the Warriors were down by 12 points, 51-39. The most essential facet of the first 24 minutes of the game was shaped around the Warrior players' body language. They hung in there despite facing a formidable challenge to rally back against a team that owned a 27-3 record coming into the game.
When the buzzer sounded to signal the end of the third quarter, the Warriors were down by eight. However, they outscored the Celtics 25-21 in the third quarter. The lead should have been closer on a ridiculously blatant bad offensive foul call on Ronny Turiaf, when in reality it should have been a three-point play opportunity for him.
With the start of the final quarter, the rally from an eight-point deficit was initiated by the Italian Stallion, Marco Belinelli. Belinelli, who had 22 points, hit two three-pointers to begin the claw back from a 10 point deficit.
"Marco [Belinelli] hit some big shots!" Jackson said.
Then, Jackson took over.
Anthony Morrow connected with Jackson for a layup to make it a three-point contest. Jackson hit a crucial three to make it a one-point game.
Jackson made his typical fade-away jumper in Paul Pierce's face to finally put the Warriors up by one. It was their first lead since their 4-2 lead in the start of the game.
Ronny Turiaf, who had a superb game with 14 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks, defended Kevin Garnett beautifully to deny last season's Defensive Player of The Year a comfortable pathway to the basket. In addition, Turiaf converted all 10 of his free throws.
"I felt pretty good this morning. I was telling Jamal [Crawford] this morning that if I get to the free throw line, I’m not going to miss it. And it was just one of those days where I felt like I couldn’t miss," Turiaf said.
Perhaps the most surprising player this game produced was starting point guard CJ Watson.
When Garnett converted a three-point play to make it an 87-83 game, Watson worked on Eddie House and All-Star candidate Rajan Rondo. On both of these occasions, Watson hit two of the most crucial jumpers one can see come out of an undrafted player's hands.
After that, the game was essentially put away.
"We played hard. We found a way to get it done against a great team. We just fought the whole game, and it shows when we play hard and stay together, good things will happen," Jackson said.
- The Warriors' defense looks so sharp. Especially with this young team, the defensive awareness of some players is on the rise.
- Belinelli was testing the crowd's nerves when he missed three straight jumpers in the final two minutes of the game. However, he made it up when he forced Garnett into an offensive foul as well as disturbing Ray Allen (who fouled out) partly due to the fact he drew three offensive fouls on Allen.
- Andris Biedrins did not have a good game. But again, the referee's calls against him were mind-boggling. In one play in the second-half, Biedrins was clearly slapped on the hand by Rondo (which the fans booed), but the refs failed to make the right call.
- Watson's two critical jumpers in the end of the game probably surprised every fan in Oracle Arena.
- Azubuike's blocked shot on House's three-point attempt and Rondo's layup attempt were flat-out incredible.
- Brandan Wright had a really solid game tonight. In the third quarter, he moved the ball extremely well to find open shooters. He had eight points and seven rebounds.
- If anyone says the Golden State Warriors' fans are NOT the best fans in the NBA, take a look at tonight's game. When have you ever heard of a crowd fiercely cheering for a team that owns a 9-22 record? Check out Oracle Arena.