Andre Iguodala tossed himself the ball, waiting for it bounce off the floor. Calmly, he jogged into the paint, gathered his feet and jumped. He grabbed the ball with his left hand, and in one motion swung it behind his back, passing it into his right. Then, he slammed the ball through the basket.
It was a perfect 50 dunk. And it happened in 2006.
Tuesday, Iguodala gathered his feet on the left baseline, slightly bending his 35-year-old knees, and jumped to catch another lob, this one from Draymond Green. It wasn’t a perfect 50, but for what he means to the Warriors, it was pretty close.
Iguodala, the fifth member of the Warriors’ most feared lineup, continued his masterful playoff run in Game 2, helping guide the Warriors to a 115-109 win and a 2-0 series lead.
Game 3 will be Saturday in Houston.
“Andre doesn’t look 35 to me. He’s just an incredible athlete,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “…When you combine that athleticism with that brain, you’ve got a hell of a player.”
It’s easy to see what the Warriors missed from Iguodala last year in their seven-game series with Houston. After he was a comical plus-41 in Game 3, a bruised knee sidelined the veteran wing for the remainder of the series and the first two games of the Finals.
Tuesday, Iguodala scored 16 points — that dunk off Green’s assist was his playoff-leading 19th slam — on only nine shot attempts. In the first two games of the series with Houston, Iguodala is making an ungodly 75% of his shots.
He also is the primary defender against Houston’s James Harden, one of the few players with the athleticism and smarts to stay in front of the NBA’s best scorer.
“He ties up a lot of loose ends for us,” Kerr said.
If Iguodala’s seeing the rim clearly, Harden probably isn’t, at least not after early in the first quarter.
Harden went to the court, writhing in pain, after being accidentally poked in the eyes by Green. Harden stayed on the floor through an entire timeout and went to the locker room, returning midway through the second quarter, both eyes clearly bloodshot.
“He got raked pretty good in the eyes,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I didn’t have a doubt he was coming back unless it was something catastrophic.”
He wasn’t the only former MVP who had to head to the locker room.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry suffered a gruesome dislocated middle finger on his left hand. X-rays were negative and Curry was able to return to the game with his middle finger taped.
The Rockets, with and without Harden early, were a bit of a mess, turning the ball over nine times, leading to 14 points for the Warriors.
The sloppiness, though, had nothing to do with the officiating, the dominant topic of conversation since the final horn of Game 1. Everything from leaked internal audits of the officiating by the Rockets to Kerr faux-flopping his way in and out of his media availability Monday threatened to hijack the narrative.
Add in official Scott Foster, whom Harden and Chris Paul have publicly criticized before, and Tuesday could’ve easily once again have been about the referees.
But for the most part, it wasn’t.
“I think it was a great officiated game. … It was kind of disheartening for a game that I’ve loved since I was a child that the talk … was about foul calls,” Green said. “It’s kind of embarrassing for the game of basketball.”
Green didn’t even complain about receiving a technical foul after getting tangled up with Houston big man Nene.
No, the Warriors wanted the focus back on the basketball.
And with someone like Iguodala on the court, doing all of the little things, defending, passing, shooting, leading and leaping, it’s easy to put it there.
“Personal opinion,” he said with a grin, “I’ve just got really good genes.”