Rewind: Nevermind Dagger 3, Warriors Live by Dagger D to Beat Hawks

OAKLAND – When they need a bucket, they look to Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson.

When they need a rebound, they look to Draymond Green or Durant.

When they need a defensive stop, they look to Andre Iguodala or Green or Durant.

The Warriors are, as this season rolls on, getting better and better at pinpointing problems and identifying who best gets them to a solution. When the offense was choppy and rebounds were going to Atlanta on Monday, they turned to defense.

To Iguodala and Green, the two Warriors who most enjoy using defense to take the hearts of opponents. Some live for the dagger 3, they live for dagger D.

In the wake of a 105-100 victory over the Hawks, secured by Green’s defense, he relished the opportunity to explain.

“My goal coming into this season was to win the championship,” Green said. “In order for us to win a championship, we’ve got to defend. Well, the world says we traded our defense away when we got KD. I disagree. I think our defense actually has the upside to be better, with the length that we have, the speed, the athleticism.

“So that pissed me off more than anything. It was kind of like, ‘Yeah, their defense is going to suck now.’ I take that personally. So that pushes me more than anything else, just the doubt from everyone about that end of the floor.”

With Green and Iguodala as the pillars, the Warriors used defense to construct a remarkable fourth quarter that vanquished the admirably resilient Hawks.

In winning their 12th consecutive game – tying the third-longest win streak in franchise history – the Warriors held the Hawks to 19 fourth-quarter points on 27.3-percent shooting while also forcing five turnovers. Even though Atlanta grabbed more rebounds in the quarter (16-10), the relentless defense was more than enough to offset that, as well as the 36-percent shooting of the Warriors.

“This was a physical team,” Durant said of the Hawks. “They came out and pushed us all night. They were on a high. They lost badly against the Lakers the night before, so they wanted to come out and have a great performance.

“In the first half, they kind of hit us in the mouth. In the second half, we started to pick it up a bit. Nineteen points in the fourth quarter, that’s great defense.”

After allowing 30 field goals through three quarters, the Warriors allowed six in the fourth, which they opened with an 8-0 run, taking an 88-81 lead they never lost.

After a Durant jumper put them ahead, Iguodala yanked a rebound and raced the length of the court for a layup. A quick Atlanta shot led to another Iguodala rebound, which he converted into a dunk.

What Iguodala (12 points, 5-of-9 shooting, 2-of-6 from deep) started was finished by Green, who in the final 2:19 blocked three shots – including two in the final 43.4 seconds, with both resulting in the Warriors regaining possession.

“The whole team was defending well and we covered up shooters and switched well,” coach Steve Kerr said. “But those two plays ended up with one-on-one plays against Draymond and he blocks both shots off the other guys.

“And then he closed out on (Paul) Millsap on the final 3-pointer with (5.2) seconds left – just an incredible defensive sequence. Draymond is amazing.”

Neither man posted eye-popping numbers, though Iguodala’s team-best plus-18 was indicative of his impact and Green walked away with 4 points, seven assists, three rebounds – and four blocks. Despite being listed as questionable with a contusion on his left ankle, Green was plus-8 over a team-high 39 minutes.

“We had a few shots that I thought were dagger shots that didn’t go in,” Durant said. “But we just kept fighting, kept pushing and got stops when we needed to.”

That is what Green and Iguodala bring, most every night. Their scoring comes and goes. They’ll find ways to unclog the offense when necessary. But when the call is placed for defense, they practically race for the chance to answer.

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