18th August 18:18
CCT: Many happy returns for Golden State
Posted on Thu, Nov. 06, 2003
Many happy returns for Golden State
By Matt Steinmetz
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
OAKLAND - Of course, Nick Van Exel and Jason Richardson were much of the
story in the Warriors' 99-72 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on
Wednesday. After all, it was the first time this season either guy
played in a game, and by each doing so, it meant the Warriors starting
backcourt was intact.
So before going any further, Van Exel finished with 12 points and six
assists in 27 minutes, and Richardson had 16 points and 10 rebounds in
But the real essence of the Warriors' victory came in the various
contributions made by, well, just about every other player on the roster
healthy enough to play.
There was center Erick Dampier once again a legitimate factor on the
interior, scoring 11 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. So what if some of
those rebounds came courtesy of a generous official scorer. He still had
a bunch on his own.
There was Mike Dunleavy, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds and the
assist of the night when he hit Richardson with a perfect alley-oop pass
that Richardson converted into a reverse dunk.
That bucket gave the Warriors (2-2) an 86-64 lead with eight minutes, 41
seconds remaining, and it was part of a monster 25-5 run that finished
How about Brian Cardinal, who scored 10 of his career-high 12 points in
the first half, helping the Warriors gain control early? Or Clifford
Robinson, who not only scored 13 points but also displayed some nifty
interior passing and shut down Shareef Abdur-Rahim at the defensive end.
Speedy Claxton and Calbert Cheaney, both of whom headed to the bench
upon Van Exel and Richardson's return, combined for 18 points.
"This team has got guys who can score," Richardson said. "Last year it
was three guys, Antawn, Gilbert and myself. Now it can be Mike, Nick,
Cliff, even Damp, Calbert, everybody. We've got weapons and they make us
a dangerous team. And guys are unselfish. Teams are going to have to
play us straight up."
The Warriors, who held Atlanta to 36.7 percent shooting, hardly resemble
last year's team on the defensive end, the one that gave up a
league-worst 103.6 points per game. Through four games, the Warriors are
giving up 86 points per game.
"It's not like we acquired the best defensive players in the world,"
Dunleavy said. "Cliff is pretty good. Calbert is pretty good. But when
you have veterans, everyone takes pride in it. Some of us guys are one
year better defensively. Some of the guys who have come in are older and
pick up things better."
Van Exel spent the first half scraping off the rust, missing five of his
first six shots and handing out only two assists. But he began the
second half with a floater and a couple of assists on the first three
Warriors possessions, lifting them to a 57-47 lead.
Richardson looked similarly shaky, missing several makeable shots
throughout the game. But he helped out on the boards and made enough
shots (7-for-18) to be effective.
Dampier, who entered the game averaging 16.7 rebounds per game, got 11
in the first half, but some of them were suspect. Dampier was credited
with rebounds on at least three plays where he merely got a hand on the
ball after a teammate's miss.
That should make it easier to see how he went 1-for-8 from the field --
because he was credited with shot attempts on those plays -- in the half
even though it was tough to remember him taking that many shots.
The only cautionary note on an almost wholly positive night came from
Robinson, who limited Abdur-Rahim to only eight points.
"We've got a lot of guys who can make things happen," he said. "But guys
have to understand that some nights the minutes aren't going to be as
high as they would like. But you've got to have an understanding of what
is best for the team and roll with it."