OAKLAND – On and on they roll, mashing some teams while teasing others before breaking their hopes. And yet, the most remarkable thing about these 11-0 Warriors is that the roster is so lethal from so many directions.
If it’s not Steph Curry’s uncanny shot-making and all-around artistry, it’s Draymond Green acting as a virus infecting opponents.
If it’s not Andre Iguodala taking over the proceedings in subtle but highly effective ways, it’s Harrison Barnes flashing out of the shadows to drop eight points in the blink of an eye.
All of the above made pertinent contributions Saturday night, only to have Andrew Bogut coming off the bench and out of the hazy past to remind everyone of his relevance in exterminating the stunningly recalcitrant Brooklyn Nets.
“Bogut was incredible,” Iguodala said after the Warriors came back and then hung on for a 107-99 overtime victory over the Nets that relieved and delighted the sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.
Bogut gave the Warriors 10 points (5-of-7 shooting), a season-high 18 rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots and steals. He also, with his defense, gave Brooklyn’s All-Star center, Brook Lopez, a headache.
“Bogut was awesome,” interim coach Luke Walton said. “We ended up playing him pretty much the whole second half. He played 32 minutes. I kept asking him if he was OK. I wasn’t taking him out unless they went small and took Lopez out or he asked for a sub. Those were the only two ways that he was coming out of the ballgame."
Bogut’s effect was immediate upon entering the game, replacing Festus Ezeli midway through the first quarter, and only got more evident as the night progressed. Of the final and decisive 17 minutes – fourth quarter and OT – he played all but 18 seconds.
The Warriors outscored the Nets 37-22 during those 17 minutes.
The rescue team had plenty of soldiers, from Curry giving the Warriors their first lead, late in the fourth quarter, to Iguodala hitting a clutch 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left in regulation, essentially sending the game into OT, to Green’s triple-double after near-misses in two of the three previous games.
Then, too, there was Green’s stellar defense on Thaddeus Young, who owned the first quarter, scoring 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting.
“The great thing about Draymond is all you have to do is challenge him and he’ll step up,” Walton said. “At halftime, we asked him if we should start doubling Thaddeus. He didn’t like that very much, but he played like Draymond defensively in the second half.
“But Bogie, he was the leader of that side of the court, pretty much all night. He was blocking shots, he was in the huddles talking about different coverages and just vocal and active on pretty much every play.”
The Warriors recovered from a 15-point first quarter deficit by clamping down on defense and fighting back on the glass. After being outrebounded 14-7 in the 12 minutes – as the Nets shot 68 percent – the Warriors had a 43-36 advantage on the glass while holding Brooklyn to 32.8-percent shooting over the final 41 minutes.
“We had a horrible start,” Bogut said. “It was the first time this season we’ve come in here at halftime deflated like that.”
Bogut had played a total of 74 minutes through the first 10 games, six of which he was unavailable for after sustaining a concussion on opening night. Ezeli played so well in the starting lineup that there was no timetable for Bogut’s return to the starting lineup.
And, remember, he didn’t start the last three games of the NBA Finals, three games the Warriors won to close out the series and win the championship.
Add it all up, and it was enough to give the Warriors confidence they could win, even big games, without Bogut – and open the door to the possibility that Ezeli might become the regular starter.
Bogut’s performance may force the staff to spend the next 36 hours revisiting that decision. Indeed, it was as if the 7-foot veteran was making a play to regain his place in the starting lineup.