The Warriors welcomed back Andris Biedrins on Monday. Not the tentative, bumbling big man they've seen most of this season, but the productive, energetic big man they remember from years past. Biedrins brought with him his contributions of old in a 114-97 win over the visiting Chicago Bulls at Oracle Arena. He finished (4-for-5 shooting). He rebounded (19). And he defended (a career-high eight blocks).
"That's the Andris that we miss right there," guard Monta Ellis said. "We knew eventually he was going to get back to that. His presence — rebounding, blocked shots, everything — we needed that and he gave it. He's the reason we won this game."
Of course, the Warriors also had to welcome back Biedrins' cringe-worthy free-throw shooting. He was 1-for-7 from the line, no doubt denting the front rim with a few of his bricks.
"That free throw doesn't have much chance," coach Don Nelson said. "I know it. You know it. He probably knows it."
The Warriors (12-27) snapped their three-game home losing streak largely because Biedrens played his best game of the season after missing 25 games because of injury. He followed his first double-double of the season (Friday against Milwaukee) with a season-high 39 minutes and anchored a defense that held Chicago (18-21) to 36.5 percent shooting. The Warriors had a season-high 57 rebounds.
Biedrins' block on Bulls center Joakim Noah started a fast break that ended with an Ellis layup with 9:13 left in the fourth quarter. That play shifted the momentum to the Warriors and started a 21-8 run over the next five-plus minutes that turned a three-point advantage into a 106-90 lead inside of four minutes left.
The Warriors got all the scoring they needed from their Big Three. Ellis had 36 points — though he needed 39 shots — and eight assists. Forward Corey Maggette had 32 points on 11-for-14 shooting, and Stephen Curry had 26 points and six assists. The trio was four points shy of outscoring the entire Bulls squad.
Biedrins had to be thankful for that because the Warriors didn't need him to make free throws. He had missed all seven of his attempts entering the game, then missed all three of his tries in the first half. His first effort in the second half came with 2:22 left in the third quarter, and Biedrins heard a chorus of boos when he banged it off the front rim. But the boos eventually were drowned out by cheers of encouragement, and the crowd erupted when Biedrins knocked down his second one.
He is 1-for-14 for the season, 7.1 percent.
"I brought Rick Barry in here when I first arrived and I was trying to get him to change," Nelson said of Biedrins. "Rick spent an hour with him, and he decided he didn't want to do the underhand free throw. I thought that was the one chance. ... He's just so fundamentally unsound. We've worked with him and tried to show him. But he basically can't change that. It's his wrist, it's his motion, it's his arc. And he chooses not to change his free throw."
Biedrins was clearly frustrated and down about his free-throw shooting after the game, though he insisted he still attacks the basket the same. He said he altered his free-throw stroke based on some tips he received while with the Latvian national team.
"I think that was the wrong thing what I did," Biedrins said. "I should go back like I was shooting it last year. It was a little bit different stance, different timing. It's just really hard on me right now."