The Santa Cruz Warriors cruised to a 93-72 win over the visiting Tulsa 66ers to break their four game losing streak before the team's fifth consecutive sold-out crowd of 2,505.
It was their first game back in Santa Cruz at Kaiser Permanente Arena since January 1 when they ended their four game home stand undefeated; however, the Warriors had the worst possible road trip dropping four straight games and falling from the best record in the D-League to the fourth best.
"I don't think I've ever lost four games in a row, even at an open gym," said Griffin. "It's an awful feeling and it feels incredible to get that monkey of our back."
Taylor Griffin and Cameron Jones, who started in place of Travis Leslie due to a groin injury, lead the Warriors on a 12-2 start. However the 66ers would not be denied as they fought their way back into the game and cut the lead to just three at the end of the first quarter. Griffin said that it was part of the plan to get him involved early.
“Coach always draws up plays before the game, and one of the plays was to get me in the post and the other was for Chris Johnson to get in the post, and we were able to get to the free throw line and I think that sparked us too.”
The second quarter saw most of the same, but the 66ers would mount yet another comeback midway through the period to bring the lead back down to four. Then Stefhon Hannah did his best Stephen Curry impression and exploded for seven straight points to give the Warriors some breathing room. They would head to the locker room for halftime with a six point lead 45-39.
Coming out from halftime the Warriors shifted into another gear and went on an unthinkable 20-4 run behind their stout defense which held the 66ers to a woeful 34.2 percent from the field. During that run the Warriors did just that, they got out in transition scoring eight fast break points.
“When we’re locking down and playing defense we can get out and run we can get out score easy lay-ups,” said Griffin. “And as guys get easy layups and start feeling good then shots start falling and it’s like a chain reaction.”
The Warriors would cruise from the end of the third quarter and lead by as much as 30 in the fourth quarter.
Taylor Griffin was the man of the night scoring 21 points in just 25 minutes he also added nine rebounds to his line. Even though the Warriors had lost four games in a row before this game, Griffin has had his the best streak of games all season long averaging 18 points per game in the last five.
“I’ve just played more aggressively,” said Griffin of his recent play. “Attacking the basket like I said. Trying to get to the free throw line and then when guys play off because of that it opens up shots, and when we’re playing well as a team and moving the ball shots come easy.”
Cameron Jones also had a great game while starting for only the second time this season as he dropped in 14 points.
Dan Nwaelele had 13 points off the bench in just his second game back from an ankle injury.
“He’s been really itching to play,” said Bjorkgren. “And he made the most of it, I think. He was aggressive, it was a good game for him to get in shape.”
Travis Leslie said his groin injury happened in the first game of the NBA D-League showcase, but that it had bothered him before. He told me that he is day-to-day and expects to be back soon.
The Warriors will play against the 66ers once again on Sunday at Kaiser Permanete Arena.