The Golden State Warriors‘ 87-83 last-second victory over the Sacramento Kings illustrates the up-and-down struggles on making the formerly defensively-challenged franchise into a consistent presence on that side of the court.
The Dubs held the Western Conference’s worst team to 83 points two nights after giving up 118 to the Eastern Conference’s Toronto Raptors. However, the second-highest scoring team in the NBA — the Warriors — put up only 87 points and shot only 36 percent.
An epic fail in most circumstances, right? Not so fast.
For Mark Jackson‘s unit in, a win forged on defensive stops in the last few minutes of a tight game may be more encouraging than the more typical 125 points scored in Monday’s victory.
Jackson has been preaching defensive toughness both physically and mentally for the better part of two seasons now. Too often, the Warriors main players, Stephen Jackson, Klay Thompson and David Lee have let either poor shooting performances or sloppy offensive play spill over onto the opposite side of the floor.
Thompson and Lee have especially been guilty of this no-no. They often have made the old adage about “the best defense” their mantra at times, thinking that outscoring their opponents is the same as preventing them from scoring. Given the “defense last” ideal that has permeated this franchise for years, the idea that any of defensive values that Jackson has been imparting to this group is beginning to take hold is admirable.
Both Thompson and Lee made big defensive plays in Wednesday’s wins, especially Thompson’s harassing play on Tyreke Evans‘ last-second shot. Lee also controlled the boards with more efficiency, despite a more modest rebound total when compared to other games this season.
These are admittedly small victories, but for a franchise that has a history of being a defensive sieve over the years, the mere fact that these two guys played tough in a hard-fought battle make even a ugly victory somewhat sweet.