The Warriors haven’t been able to play with urgency. Luckily, they discovered a little motivation just a few feet from their bench to fuel them to a road win in Washington.
From tip-off, Draymond Green was talking back to a few loud-mouthed fans seated on the Wizards sideline. The fans kept talking trash to Green through all 12 of the game’s lead changes, Green said.
“You think you a Hall of Famer?” the fans said to Green.
Those fans didn’t have much to say back after Golden State pulled away late behind Green’s 11-point fourth-quarter — all while anchoring a defensive performance with the grit they’ve been searching for.
“‘I better never hear you say that again,” Green said back to the fans. “I’m like that, I’ve been like that, bro.”
The Warriors take pride in silencing their doubters, but Green admitted he benefitted from hearing the negativity. Suffering from a malaise that’s led to a baffling 5-17 road record and mediocre first half of the season, the Warriors’ veterans are grabbing for any motivation they can reach.
Last season’s 18-2 start and Finals win was at least partially fueled by outside voices who declared the Warriors’ dynasty dead. After winning their fourth ring in Boston, Steph Curry, Green and Klay Thompson made a point of calling out talking heads and former players who said they were over.
With a different, slightly younger roster this year, the defending champions haven’t been able to find within themselves that prove-you-wrong gusto with any sort of consistency. It’s led to 0-2 records against the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic — both losing teams. The Warriors are hanging on to the seventh seed and in striking distance of a higher seed by virtue of a mediocre Western Conference.
The Wizards looked to be taking another road game from the Warriors. They didn’t have an answer for 7-foot-3 center Kristaps Porzingis, who took advantage of a Warriors team lacking length and scored 25 points in the first half.
But Green and the entire team found a little extra motivation to stave off another disappointing road loss from that trash talk. Green got a few big stops in second quarter and had his hands on every defensive opportunity throughout the second half.
“I appreciated it, though, because I had nothing going. I couldn’t find it,” Green said. “Wasn’t about to find it. Shout out to them, they got me going. I appreciate those guys.”
Green has a history with opposing team fans. Celtics fans chanted offensive taunts at Green that flustered him during the NBA Finals. This season, Green had a Milwaukee Bucks fan kicked out of the game after some of the fan’s comments made Green uncomfortable. Typically, though, Green lives off the doubt. So Curry and his teammates encouraged Green to shut the fans up.
“We always love an engaged Draymond, no matter who puts the gas in the tank,” Curry said.
The chirping fans left well before the final buzzer, when the Warriors up and clearly headed for a win. Curry noticed, hoping he and Green could get in a few words with them after the game — in good fun.
“I was very disappointed,” Curry said. “Very disappointed. We were running out the clock, you got to take that smoke the whole game. As soon as we were walking back to the bench, I thought there’d be a final word. I looked over and saw him walking out before the clock was at zero. That’s a cardinal rule, you can’t do that. I’m sure he would have stayed if we lost.”