Golden State Warriors Up To Old Tricks In Opening Night Win


For the Golden State Warriors, the magic of NBA’s opening night began before the Warriors even took the court for their season-opening game with the New Orleans Pelicans. In pre-game ceremonies, the Warriors raised the banner that signified their first NBA championship in 40 years, and received their world championship rings, the grand prize for all their hard work to become the best team in basketball.

Despite the notion that a jump-shooting team can’t win a championship (which Warriors’ fans didn’t let Charles Barkley forget with this t-shirt seen in Oracle), the Warriors ran through the Pelicans, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Houston Rockets, and the Cleveland Cavaliers to be the last team standing. On opening night, the Pelicans got their first chance at revenge for their first-round exit in the 2015 playoffs.

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It’s a new season for the Warriors, but they were up to their old tricks during the first game of the season. That jump-shooting team that wasn’t supposed to win a championship last year came out on fire, getting their title defense off on the right foot with a 111-95 win over the Pelicans, evoking memories of their four-game sweep in last year’s opening round of the playoffs.

Reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry didn’t miss a beat, as he wasted no time finding the form that made him the scoring champion last year. In the first quarter, Curry made eight of his 14 shot attempts, including four of seven from beyond the arc, racking up 24 points to lead all scorers at the first break in the season. He showed off his entire arsenal, as he drove to the rim for layups, made some mid-range jumpers, and of course, nailed four three-pointers, his specialty.

In total, Curry ended up with 40 points in just under 36 minutes, the highest total in NBA history on opening night for a defending scoring champion. It was Curry’s 10th-career 40-point game in the regular season, plus three such performances in the playoffs. Along with the scoring, Curry added seven assists and six rebounds.

Draymond Green, the heart, hustle, and muscle of the Warriors, enjoyed a nice start to his season as well. In 30 minutes, the “undersized” power forward scored 10 points, including making the Warriors’ first bucket of the year on a three-pointer, and pulled down eight rebounds, all while accumulating a very strong 20 +/- rating.

It wasn’t all good news for the Warriors on Tuesday night. Warriors’ big man Andrew Bogut, already wearing a face mask because of his fourth broken nose, bumped heads with New Orleans’ forward Dante Cunningham in the third quarter. Bogut received a laceration over his right eye, and went to the locker room to get stitches to close up the cut. He didn’t return to the game after that. Bogut is giving San Francisco Giants’ first baseman Brandon Belt a serious run for his money as the unluckiest Bay Area athlete when it comes to injuries.

Cunningham was also tested for a concussion, and passed all the tests, but didn’t return to the game afterwards.

Festus Ezeli, after dealing with an injury-riddled 2014-2015 campaign, was the Warriors’ second-leading scorer while taking the lion’s share of minutes in Bogut’s stead. He totaled 13 points in over 17 minutes of action, falling short only of Curry’s point total. Ezeli also added four rebounds, an assists, a block, and a steal.

It was opening night, so some sloppy play was to be expected to an extent. The Warriors did turn the ball over 20 times on Tuesday, but that’s not terribly high compared to their championship season last year. Golden State averaged about 14.5 turnovers per game last season. Still, that is something that the team will look to clean up in the future.

The Warriors are 1-0 with Luke Walton running the show, but even while not coaching, Steve Kerr still had the Warriors’ quote of the night. Kerr had some advice for Walton before Tuesday’s game, trying to put his temporary replacement’s mind at ease. Kerr told Walton “Don’t worry. We won 67 games last year and I didn’t know what I was doing”. Winning a championship in your rookie year isn’t half bad for a guy who didn’t know what he was doing.

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