Warriors can't keep up with Hornets and Vintage Dwight Howard, Lose 111-100
After beating the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, the Golden State Warriors (28-7) took on the Charlotte Hornets (12-22) at home. This was the last game before Stephen Curry would return from his ankle injury, and the Warriors were looking to build off their stellar second half against the Jazz and annihilate the Hornets. The Warriors first game without Steph was against the Hornets, and this game will be the last without him for a while. The Hornets had the potential to be nice bookends for the Warriors stretch without their two-time MVP, unfortunately, the Warriors had no interest in beating the Hornets, and lost 111-100.
In the first quarter, the Warriors got off to a blisteringly hot shot on the back of Klay Thompson. He finished the quarter going 5-7 with 13 points, but no other Warrior was able to really get going offensively. The team shot 41.7% from the field, and were also allowing the Hornets to get plenty of open lanes to the basket. The biggest beneficiary of the poor interior defense was Dwight Howard, who finished the quarter with 10 points. The Warriors were in control for the first half of the quarter, but then got ice cold and the Hornets clawed their way back thanks to their 53.8% shooting. The Warriors got a little sloppy at the end as well and had four turnovers. After the first, the Hornets led the Warriors 32-29.
The second quarter saw the Warriors play a lot better. Their shooting percentage rose to 47.7% overall and 50% from deep. Klay Thompson stayed hot and finished the half with a game-high 20 points. David West played a big role in stabilizing the Warriors’ offense. He went 3-3 with six points while also grabbing five rebounds. The turnover problem did persist throughout the quarter, and they finished the half with 10 turnovers, and the Hornets capitalized on nearly all of them. The Warriors were able to take Dwight Howard out of the Hornets’ offense though. They decided to double-team him and force him to commit turnovers, and he only had three points in the second quarter. The Hornets continued to shoot the ball well as a team at 45.8%, and were getting nice performances out of nearly all of their players. The main reason that they were in the game though, was the Warriors’ sloppiness in the first half. Regardless of how sloppy the Warriors were, the game was tied 53-53 heading into halftime.
In the third quarter, the Warriors played very poorly, and looked lifeless for the majority of the time. The team looked as if it had run out of gas late in the quarter, and the Hornets were able to feast. They continued to dominate inside on the back of Dwight Howard, who had 23 points and 8 rebounds after three quarters. The Warriors’ turnovers also continued to rise, and they ended the quarter with 13, and it left the Warriors looking dejected. Kevin Durant managed to get hot after tweaking his ankle, and finished the quarter with 20 points. After three quarters, the Hornets led 79-75.
The Warriors continued to just absolutely suck in the fourth quarter. They continued to turn the ball over at an absurd rate, and allowed 32 points off of those 17 turnovers, which basically means they scored on every turnover. The Warriors looked like they wanted no part of this game as the fourth quarter dragged on, as they stopped grabbing rebounds and allowed Dwight Howard to feast. Kevin Durant hit a couple big shots for the Warriors, including a four-point play which was pretty cool, but ultimately meant nothing. Klay Thompson cooled off and did not score in the final period. The Warriors ended up losing to the worst road team in the NBA, 111-100.
The Warriors had beaten the Hornets seven straight times, but tonight, they were just outplayed. Six different Hornets had double-digit scoring numbers, and the Warriors were just unable to keep the ball in their own hands as they handed the ball over 17 times. Only three Warriors had a positive +/-, which was atrocious. Pat McCaw did not follow up his incredibly strong game with a good performance. He finished with a game-low -19, and was unable to hit open shots in crucial moments.
A couple Warriors had good games, like Kevin Durant, who finished with 27 points, six assists, and four rebounds, and was great from beyond the arc with four threes. Klay Thompson had a great first half, but hardly made any impact in the second half en route to 24 points. Draymond Green nearly had a triple double, but did not have a great game. He went 4-11 from the field, and missed on several drives to the hoop and wide open looks from deep. He did dish out a game-high 16 assists while grabbing 11 rebounds, but ultimately it was fruitless.
Something cool did come out of this game, and that was being able to see 2009 Dwight Howard again. I thought he was gone forever after he went to Los Angeles and Houston. I was a huge Dwight Howard fan as a kid, and loved watching him on the Magic, and it was cool to see him be dominant again. I would have prefered it not be against the Warriors, but still, kinda cool. He finished with 29 points on 10-15 shooting, while also grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out seven assists. I mean, the Warriors knew that if they double teamed him he would turn the ball over like nine times out of ten, but they got bored of that in the second quarter so he feasted in the second half.
It has become very clear over the course of the last month that Stephen Curry more important to the team than the Warriors realize. He has the ability to ignite Oracle Arena like no other player can, he is a threat to make a shot from the second he enters the Arena until the second he leaves, and his presence does so much for the team that I cannot wait to see him play again. He comes back tomorrow, and then we can all truly appreciate him, because we have seen how boring the team is when he does not play.
Stephen Curry will make his return tomorrow, December 30, at home against the Memphis Grizzlies at 5:30 p.m.