What we learned in the Warriors’ 112-92 win over the Spurs

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How’s that for a reversal? The Warriors, down 19 points in the first half to the Spurs Thursday, flipped the score on San Antonio in the second half of the rivals’ first matchup of the year, opening a 21-point second-half lead — a 40-point turnaround — in what would be a 112-92 Golden State win.

The second half showed us the Warriors at their best, but in both the first-half struggles and second half successes, there were lessons to be gleaned.

Here’s what we learned from the Warriors’ sixth win of the year:

1. Numbers don’t show Draymond Green’s full impact on this Warriors’ team

(Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) 

Green turned around Thursday night’s game. Yes, the Warriors chipped away at the Spurs’ early 19-point lead with a spurt at the end of the second quarter, but the Warriors took over the game form the Spurs and never gave it back when Green took over as the Warriors’ focal point on both ends of the court.

We already know that Green is a preternatural defender and the team’s captain on that side of the ball. We know how he can spark this Warriors’ team on that end.

But the Spurs’ halftime adjustment Thursday night was to not defend Green closely when the Warriors had the ball, particularly outside the 3-point arc, and he made the Spurs pay for disrespecting his playmaking abilities.

Green only made one 3-pointer in the third quarter, but he was Green was a plus-7 in less than seven minutes in the third, going 3-of-4 from the field. But it wasn’t the baskets he scored that changed the game — no, he demoralized the Spurs in ways the box score will never show. He pulled the Warriors’ train onto the tracks in the third and it never stopped chugging along, even after he left the game.

To paraphrase the great Oscar Robertson, stats are an invention to create stars — the real stars are discovered in big games, and you don’t need to look at a box score to determine who they are.

By that criteria, Green is unquestionably a superstar. (Unless you want to disagree with Robertson…) His influence on this Warriors team is undeniable and it showed up again Thursday.

Stephen Curry might have the gravity, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson might be two-way studs, but Green is the fulcrum of this Warriors’ team — when he found his game in the third quarter Thursday, the Warriors followed suit and the outcome was no longer in question.

2. Jordan Bell needs more minutes

(Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) 

Yes, he’s a rookie. Yes, he isn’t fully up to speed on the Warriors’ playbook and defensive schemes. And yes, there are three other veteran centers on the Golden State roster.

But Bell needs more minutes.

Much like Green, the rookie out of Oregon’s impact on the game cannot be quantified. It’s not as significant as Green’s, but it seems like it’s only a matter of time before that’s the case.

And to think the Warriors bought the second-draft pick to select him for $3.5 million. Seriously, nine games into the season, buying that pick from the Bulls might go down as an all-time great Warriors’ move.

Bell showed off his value when Green left Thursday’s game after picking up his fifth foul with 8:08 remaining in the fourth quarter, with the Warriors up 89-82. It could have proven to be a critical point of the game, if not for Bell. The 6-foot-9 rookie came in to play center and the Warriors pulled away down the stretch, the kid’s energy on both sides of the court proving to be a catalyst for the late-game run.

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