Monday, December 20, 2010

Warriors mistakes lead to Rockets win 121-112

The way the Warriors finished the second half is a microcosm of the Warriors tough season so far, with frustrating self inflicted damage. With under 30 seconds left in the first half, Monta Ellis stole a Chuck Hayes pass and started a fast break. He passed to Rodney Carney, who missed a fast break lay-up and Louis Amundson kept it alive, yet failed to finish. No Warriors player was back to defend a long outlet pass to a wide open Kyle Lowry. On the following play, Lowry picked a point black inbound pass from Dorell Wright and was fouled hard by a frustrated Wright. The Rockets capped off a 7-0 run with an inbound play to Luis Scola with .3 seconds to shoot. Scola hit a shot right out a game of 'tip-it' from about eight feet on the baseline.

It was a pathetic display, a lack of focus, and overall careless basketball.

With no Curry, the Warriors needed offense. Ellis gave his max effort with 44 points, while Reggie Williams and Dorell Wright essentially contributed nothing (They combined for 20, some of those points in garbage time). Ellis went 15-20 from the field, 3-4 from three, and 11-14 from the line. He also added seven assists and three steals to negate his three turnovers. In two games against the Rockets at Oracle this season, Ellis has scored 90 points.

Dorell Wright shows resemblance to Al Harrington offensively. Wright is a better defender, but they both can be feast or famine with scoring. Like Harrington back in 2007, if Wright scores 20 or more, the Warriors have probably won. I'd be interested to see those statistics.

The Warriors need another player at small forward to supplement D-Wright's minutes. They can live with A.C. Law and Jeremy Lin at back up point guards, but a solid SF is key. D-Wright is still growing and improving as a young player in this league, but he doesn't look ready to handle the heavy minutes at this point in his career (Welcome to Golden State-all hands on deck!). D-Wright should get more open three point looks when Curry returns, as Steph draws heavy attention with his own shooting ability.

Ekpe Udoh showed why he was the sixth overall pick in the draft. Udoh played with energy, rebounded, showcased his baby hook in the lane, blocked two shots, and showed awareness as a passer of the ball, as he made three assists. With just over nine minutes in the fourth quarter, Udoh jammed home an Ellis miss with the left hand and sprinted back down to block a Courtney Lee lay-up on the other end. Udoh's effort caused Oracle Arena to erupt and earned the rookie the respect of the NBA's finest fans. Udoh's enrgy also sparked the Warriors, who used the momentum to take a two point lead after an Ellis made three.

The lead was short lived, as the Warriors fell apart somewhat like they did to end the first half. It was essentially over when Shane Battier hit a three just under 2:00 minutes. The Warriors stopped the Rockets on the next possession, but Kyle Lowry stole Vlad Radmonovic's rebound and was taken down by Vlad for a flagrant foul. Lowry hit two free throws to put the Rockets up 108-101. More foolish and careless basketball.

Kevin Martin scored 30 points to lead the Rockets. Martin was 7-14 shooting, 3-4 from three, and 13-13 from the line. Martin is an interesting player to officiate, as he is clever like Derron Williams is on Utah. (But with a different game) Martin knows he is an elite free throw shooter, so he is trying to create contact any way he can. He is quick, but not fast. Defenders respect his ability to shoot and that allows Martin to get by defenders without having speed. It's frustrating to see officials call such soft fouls on Martin while big players get batted around with no call. But elite shooters get away with a lot in the NBA.

Next game: Kings at Arco Arena 7:00 P.M.

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