WASHINGTON — It wasn’t a perfect game for the Golden State Warriors. But they killed any talk about them being in a slump on Wednesday in a 109-101 win over the Wizards.
And if you ask Draymond Green, they were never in a funk at all. A funk implies they weren’t in control of their situation. That’s something Green would never allow.
According to him, they just weren’t applying themselves.
“Everyone’s been better,” Green said. “It’s been a complete team effort, change of mindset. We’re trying to tune up and get ready for the real season.”
The snags the Dubs regularly hit before the All Star break — they started slow, they looked disinterested on defense and they were sloppy with the ball — didn’t follow them to the nation’s capital.
The Warriors outscored Washington, 36-21, in the first quarter. They held their opponent to 34.4-percent shooting. And they won the turnover battle 18-15 while scoring 26 points to the Wizards’ 15 off miscues.
Of course, there were some mitigating factors to the uplifting performance. Washington didn’t have John Wall, who is out after having surgery on his knee at the end of January. The Wizards were also playing in the second night of a back-to-back after winning a close game against Milwaukee the night prior.
But it’s hard to deny the Warriors’ improvement in all of the areas that limited them during a rare downswing in which most members of the team admitted they weren’t playing up to their admittedly sky-high expectations. They entered the contest with the second-best defensive rating in the NBA over the previous five games. That simply wasn’t the case when the team wasn’t applying itself on defense.
“I feel like we have gotten better since the break and we really got back to who we are defensively,” Stephen Curry said. “… Our energy, focus and will to win is at a high level right now.”
Much of that is due to the sharpened focus of Green, but also Klay Thompson returning to form as one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. On Wednesday, he played a major part in limiting Bradley Beal, who managed just eight points on 15 shots — ending a stellar run of play with Wall out.
“We assign Klay with the most difficult job night after night,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s had a hell of a week.”
The Wizards are one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference and were playing well despite going without Wall. Golden State logging a decisive win over them is much more impressive than beating down on the hapless New York Knicks. So there’s something to the Warriors’ showing on the defensive end.
It may be a product of the eye test with some select numbers to confirm: But the Warriors look to be locking in like they did at the end of last season when they finished their last 16 games 15-1.
Thompson took it a step further. He said the Warriors are aiming to win out.
He conceded it’s not a realistic goal, but it’s far from impossible.
The key details:
— Kevin Durant put on a show in front of a hometown audience. KD scored 32 points, including 16 in the first quarter.
— Draymond Green did it all. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year scored 11 points on six shots, grabbed six boards, distributed 11 assists, blocked two shots and logged two steals. He, as well as Andre Iguodala, appear re-energized and ready to play their crucial roles down the stretch run and beyond.