The Warriors came into Thursday's game against the Bulls with five days rest after blowing out the Bobcats last Friday Feb. 1. The momentum seemed to be strongly in the Warriors' favor as they were set to take on a Chicago Bulls team playing without Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, and Kirk Heinrich.
Any momentum that existed last week had evaporated over the course of that five day rest. Quite frankly, the Warriors looked apathetic and played lazy on both sides of the court. Webber can't be blamed for most of the things that went wrong. It will take some time for him to feel his way around and find ways to be effective. Webber botched a layup on a break away on the first play of the game, but had a better moment when he received an entry pass coming off a screen, then fed Biedrins down low for a lay in. That was the first time all year I've witnessed a high-low, half court bucket.
Webber is 34, so it will take longer to adjust to the lightning speed of the NBA, than if he were five years younger. Webber is not to blame for the Warriors inability to stop dribble penetration of Chris Duhon. Duhon is a very capable player, but he is no Deron Williams. He is not Tony Parker. He is not Devin Harris. And he is far from Steve Nash. To let Chris Duhon step into Oracle and rack up 34 points is inexcusable for a team that has playoff aspirations in the West.
The 27 points from Joe Smith, an old time Warrior malcontent slash underachieving first round pick, hurts the most.
The Bulls played with an eight player rotation, but Coach Nelson chose to do the same and not exploit an undermanned team playing its second game in as many nights. The Warriors shot for a terrible 43 percent, and would have been much lower if not for Monta Ellis going 11 of 12 and scoring 25. Baron and Jack shot a combined 14 for 43! That's 33 percent from the field. Biedrins continued his much needed post work, notching another game with double figures scoring 12 points and snatching18 rebounds.
The Western Conference is just too good to have nights like this, where the team simply does not play with the desire of a playoff squad. Thursday night makes that bellowing windbag, Charles Barkley, look like Bill Walton. (Or someone who actually analyzes basketball) On Apr. 16, when the season is over, the Warriors will look back to this loss to th Bulls. They will look back to the loss on Jan. 21 to Minnesota. The W's must remember they started off 0-6 and as Coach Nelson said, losing as many as five in a row could cost a playoff appearance. The West has beefed up since that statement, adding Shaq to the Suns and Pau Gasol to the contending Lakers. Losing 3 or four in a row could mean a playoff snubbing. Let's hope Webber doesn't take much longer to adapt and let's hope the W's can find enough heart to play defense with urgency. The road only gets more narrow from here.