Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Warriors Lose Opener to Rockets

The home opener against the Rockets at Oracle was supposed to be a winnable game. This Houston team was without Yao, T-Mac, or Artest. Also, the Rockets were on the second game of a back to back, in which the first game was a loss to the Blazers. This was the perfect opportunity for this Warriors team to set the tone for the season. Wasn't the pressure on the Rockets? How good is Scola with no Yao? Is Ariza worth the big contract? (So far the answer is yes, but let's wait until the Rockets play the Lakers and Spurs)

The first half went the Warriors way. The offense looked sharp, highlighted as Curry found open team mates, including Monta for a baseline dunk and Morrow for an open three pointer off a jump ball. At the half, the Warriors led 62-52, thanks to Anthony Randolph's buzzer beating three. The lead would have been greater if not for the Rockets three point shooting. (By that I refer to the Rockets's "overpaid role player" Trevor Ariza knocking down repeated uncontested three's) Did anyone on the W's coaching staff watch the playoffs last year?! Ariza hits catch and shoot three's all night. Ariza killed the Warriors going 4-9 from three point land, looking like a polished Matt Barnes.

Of course I must offer my points of criticism, since playing good basketball is so obvious from the couch with a mouth full of popcorn. Maggette. Don't shoot it!!! You went 3-14 from the floor and missed badly down the stretch. If Jackson, Morrow, Curry, and Ellis are on the floor, don't shoot it unless you are taking the ball to the rim. That is your game, not perimeter jumpers! Maggette is in the game for his ability to get to the free throw line when the team struggles from the field. He shot the team out of the game.

Stephen Curry was very impressive in his professional debut. He showed unbelievable maturity and great decision making on the floor, choosing to facilitate rather than score. Just imagine how effective he could be if he played off guard and received the ball instead of distributed. He would shoot high a percentage. I would like to see Curry look for his shot more frequently, but I understand wanting to be diplomatic in his debut. The kid is smart, a natural leader.

Ellis was good, scoring a team high 26 points and shooting 50 percent from the floor. Monta's only flaw was foul trouble that kept him out of the fourth quarter.

Anthony Morrow got the Rockets attention, drawing the coverage of All-League defender Shane Battier. Morrow would only score 7 in the game.

Stephen Jackson finished with 17 points, second behind Ellis' 20. Jackson appeared to give max effort when on the floor, but didn't seem to have the notable impact on the game Warrors fans have grown accustomed to. Stack Jack played 34 minutes, where he has typically played at least 40 in previous years. In fact, no one on the Warriors played more than 40 minutes. It's weird to see Nelson divide minutes symmetrically.

The Warriors looked disjointed. Rick Adleman's well coached, defensively organized ball club made the Warriors look like YMCA pick-up scrubs in the second half. The Warriors stopped moving the ball and didn't attack the lane, neglecting to take advantage of Houton's lack of a shot blocking presence. The Rockets took momentum in the second half starting 10 of 10 from the field, never looking back as the Warrirs scrambled to catch up. Perimeter defense is the Warriors glaring weakness after the first game, coupled with offensive impatience and imbalance. The Warriors are not the type of team built to get defensive stops, but their only chance to win depends on creating turnovers. Pretty ironic, huh?

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