Sunday, January 31, 2010

Warriors on life support

The Warriors looked pathetic against the Bobcats and former star Stephen Jackson, who wore a grin all the way to a 30 point night. There are so many things wrong with the way the Warriors played. If I listed them all, I would be putting forth more effort than the team did on the court last Friday. Simplified, the "leaders" don't care. Namely, Don Nelson. Monta Ellis looks frustrated.

After watching Captain Jack bring his playoff bound Bobcats into Oakland and humiliate the Warriors, Ellis had to feel the temptation to make a similar exit strategy to Jackson's. The All-Star snubbing of the Warriors' featured player was more than not making the team. It was league's way of communicating how negatively it views the Warriors. In Monta's mind, he must realize being a member of this team is holding him back. He has to if I can see it that from the outside. Don Nelson is holding him back, Robert Rowell is holding him back, and Chris Cohen is holding him back. While I'm at it, Larry Riley is holding Ellis back from being elite. The drafting of Steph Curry makes Ellis a bit more expendable, thus tradable. Ellis knew that coming into the draft. Let's keep it real. The more Curry grows, the less room there will be for Ellis.

No one wants to be on the Warriors, except Anthony Tolliver. It just blows me away that Oracle has the most wild and supportive fans in the NBA and still the Warriors lack the intensity to keep the game competitive. Pathetic and unacceptable, mostly unwatchable.

Things will get worse before they get better. The Warriors have lost four consecutive games and play six more before the All-Star break. The opponents are @Oklahoma City, @Houston, @Dallas, at home vs. Oklahoma City, Dallas, and the Clippers.

It's highly probable the Warriors could lose 10 straight going into the All-Star break. How could Don Nelson still have a job if the Warriors lose even nine of 10? Every time the Warriors play, the low energy is a reflection of how little Don Nelson cares.

This team is "rebuilding", but has no direction. Talent is present, but uncultivated. The Warriors not only need a dominant post player, but they need to change their identity to accommodate a big man. Larry Riley will make a trade before the deadline, and it had better not be for Amare Stoudamire. Just keep tanking for that lottery pick, fellas.

Briefly: The Warriors continue the parade of D-League players. The latest is Coby Karl, son of Denver Nuggets coach George Karl. The Warriors will drop Cartier Martin, who has not produced and shown poor decision making over the last few games. Karl should bring some basketball I.Q. to a team who lacks it. In an interview on KNBR, Don Nelson told Ralph and Tom that Stephen Curry is the smartest player on the team. Not a shocker.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Captain Jack returns to Oracle

The Warriors play host to the Bobcats of Charlotte tonight and welcome ole' Captain Jack back to Oracle. The boos will echo from the back of the 200 section when Jackson's name is announced for the visiting Bobcats. I can already hear the soundbite, "Forward from Oak Hill Academy, Stephen Jackson."

"Boooooo!!!" roars the Oracle crowd.

It's inevitable the fans will boo the former captain. Jackson is still a villain to Warriors fans, and seen as a deserter. But honestly, can we blame a good player, past the half way point of his career, for wanting to jump off the sinking ship that is the Warriors? Admit it Warriors fans, we are jealous. We wanted to see Jackson fail. To Jack's credit, he has lifted the Bobcats to a playoff team just like he did in 2006 for the Warriors. Jackson makes any team better because he is versatile and perceptive enough to see what needs to be done and do it. Scoring, rebounding, ball movement, and high energy defense.

The Bobcats remind me of the "We Believe" Warriors, a perennially poor team turned good, that no one wants to see in the playoffs.

Jackson will have a strong game, the Bobcats will win, and the Warriors will boo because they miss what Jackson brought to Oakland: wins. The sight of Stephen Jackson in the Bobcat's road grey uniform will be an ugly reminder of how far the Warriors have come from being a good team.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ellis not among All-Star reserves

Monta Ellis was not listed on the All-Star reserve roster released today. Oh well, he was deserving, but so is every player on that roster. Chauncy Billups wasn't chosen, so that is a testament to the caliber of player in the Western Conference. It would be safe to say Ellis would have an invite if the Warriors played on in the Eastern conference. The Warriors would have been in the playoffs more than one time in 14 years if they played in the Eastern Conference. The West is better collectively, but that won't show in the hyped up scrimmage that is the All-Star game.

Like everyone in Warriors nation, I'm disappointed Ellis didn't make the team. I'm biased because I have watched him grow as a player. I admit I was sceptical of his ability as a leader, as he had always deferred to Stephen Jackson and Baron before. Ellis proved me and many others wrong, beginning with the Nov. 20 win over the Blazers when he outplayed Brandon Roy and scored a game high 34 points. The next game was the win over the Mavs in Dallas with a six man rotation and Don Nelson out with pneumonia. Monta Ellis has carried the team and played well with Steph Curry, or at least better than Ellis predicted before the season opener. The All-Star game is a popularity contest, unlike the 2000 presidential election. I just don't buy the excuse that Monta didn't make it because the Warriors are lousy. Danny Granger and Devin Harris made were selected last year, despite the suckiness of the Pacers and Nets...Oh yeah, that's the Eastern Conference.

I predict Ellis will make the team next year, hopefully representing the Warriors.


Chris Paul slays Warriors

The loss to the Hornets at home last night was mainly the result of another listless third quarter effort. (Chris Paul's 38 points maybe had a little something to do with the 123-110 outcome) Breaking down the reasons why the Warriors lost has become an exercises in futility, plus there are too many items on that list and I don't want to bore you. (Injuries, rebounding, defense, coaching, chemistry...)

I'd rather give credit to Chris Paul, who was the best player on the floor all night. Paul scored at will and made it look easy. Anyone in Oracle last night was lucky to witness CP3 do the things he does with the basketball. Picture Baron Davis, taking it strong to the rim, dishing for dunks, hitting pull-up jumpers, and getting into the lane...that was CP3, only less turnovers and higher FG%.

The All-Star reserves will be announced tonight at 4:00 P.M. Pacific time. Monta Ellis didn't advance his candidacy this past week, as he sat out two games with a bruised ankle and has played with less energy. Stephen Curry has been chosen to join the rookie roster to play the sophomores in the Rookie Challenge game.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ellis deserving All-Star candidate


Should Monta Ellis make the All-Star team as a reserve? Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says no. I don't think Ellis will make the team this year, but I have to respectfully disagree with Kawakami in that Ellis shouldn't make the team. It Ellis was named as a reserve on the West roster, it would not be unreasonable. Definitely not as unreasonable as Allen Iverson getting appointed as a starter on the East. Let's face it, a good player in the West is going to get snubbed and it will most likely be Monta.

The primary argument against Ellis is his 26.1 points per game are only possible by a large volume of attempted shots and minutes. This argument funnels into the next argument that Ellis plays on a losing team, hence his gaudy stats are in vein. Ellis leads the NBA in minutes per game with 42, leading some to interpret his 26 ppg as less efficient than Brandon Roy's 23 ppg in 38 minutes per game.

I don't buy into knocks on the efficiency of Monta Ellis, sure he isn't as efficient as he was two years ago in a more limited role. I think the extra load Monta has taken on his back this season should reflect positively toward his All-Star campaign. The fact that he leads the league in minutes and scores 26 ppg is a testament to his stamina.

I concede Monta is not quite at the level of Chris Paul or Deron Williams (as these two are on-the-ball players, while Ellis likes to play off). At this point, Ellis is most comparable to Brandon Roy in statistics. Don't ask me who I'd rather have on my team, just look at the numbers.

Brandon Roy: 23 ppg, 5 apg, 4.6 rpg, 48 FG%, 38 mpg

Monta Ellis: 26.1 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.2 rpg, 46 FG%, 42 mpg

Monday, January 25, 2010

No Ellis in Sacramento

The Warriors take on the Kings in Sacramento tomorrow night and it will be the second game without Monta Ellis. The W's have looked decent the last two games against the Nets and Suns. They handily whipped the Nets without much contribution from Monta Ellis and played the Suns close on the road without Ellis making the trip. CJ Watson, who has been out sue to hand laceration, rejoined the team in Phoenix and will be the only available guard besides Stephen Curry this Tuesday.

Marcus Thompson II, Warriors beat writer for the Contra Costa Times, reported Ellis should be back Wednesday night against the Hornets at Oracle.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Golden State D-Leaguers beat Bulls

I can't remember a more injury stricken team than the Warriors of this season. I realize this is a tired discussion and an excuse for the lack of wins. But c'mon. The Warriors were the better team than the Bucks last Friday, but simply ran out of man power. The Warriors have three D-League call ups on the roster in Chris Hunter, Cartier Martin, and Anthony Tolliver. All of these guys are deserving, but they are at a serious disadvantage joining the team at this point in the season. This isn't like baseball where you are almsot at an advantage when you first get called up due to a lack of scouting. Basketball teams build chemistry over many games and minutes together. At least the D-League guys don't have to learn any defensive schemes (as the Warriors don't play D).

The loss against the Bucks was disappointing. It was like watching a boxing match in which the better fighter was disqualified for a cut that wouldn't stop bleeding.

The Monday win against the Bulls was encouraging. Playing a D-League line up didn't matter because the Warriors still had their top three scorers on the floor in Ellis, Maggette, and Curry. The difference between a 130-114 loss and pulling out the win was the play of Andris Biedrins. The Latvian leviathan had his best game of the season, grabbing 19 boards and blocking eight shots. (Imagine a healthy front line of Biedrins, Turiaf, Randolph, and Wright. That unit would average 10+ blocks per game)

The Warriors lack of health continuity this season has factored into losing 27 games, but consider the annoying cliche of 'a blessing in disguise'. Don Nelson has been forced to play Anthony Randolph, Steph Curry, and Anthony Morrow. Maybe those guys would have got minutes regardless, but there would have been less minutes to go around if you include a healthy Brandon Wright and Kelenna Azubuike. Plus, Biedrins and Turiaf missed a majority of the first half of the year.
While I'm on the topic of speculation, think of what the Warriors roster may look like next year. The loudest crying over the years is the need for a power forward of star quality contend against the slew in the Western conference. Despite these cries, the Warriors will have a better front line than most people think. (i.e. the unit mentioned above) It would be nice to have a go to post player to play off Monta, but what would have to be sacrificed to get that kind of player? The draft will be interesting as the Warriors should have another high first round pick. Like last season, the Warriors will take the best available player, and not draft for a specific position.

There, I speculated and now I'm done. The Warriors will get more wins than expected as Biedrins looks to be returning to his old form.

Friday, January 15, 2010

NBA All-Star Picks Post

Over at the Bay Area Sports Journal, I just posted my NBA all-star picks as most teams in the league have now completed half of their 81 scheduled regular season games. The all-star game doesn't go down until February, and the selections won't be made for another couple of weeks, so before the selections go in I wanted to give my version of the way the all-star rosters should break down. Below I have posted the fist part of the post, since I didn't want to post the same exact thing on both sites. I tried to keep it as un-biased as I could, and I think it is... The only Warrior that's even worthy of a mention is Monta Ellis, and I think he'll make it to Dallas as a reserve for the West. I don't think I'm being biased with that pick, as he really has become one of the league's better scorers. He's having a career year, is taking over as a leader of the Warriors and is playing like a cross between Allen Iverson and Dwayne Wade.

-"With the NBA season at approaching it's official halfway point, I thought now would be a good time to post our picks for both the Eastern and Western Conference rosters for next months NBA all-star game. So here are the un-biased, view on how I think each conference's 15-man roster will break down:

Western Conference Roster
Starters

PG: Steve Nash
(Barely edges out Paul, but he's played more this year)
SG: Kobe Bryant
(Pretty much a shoe in for this spot until......" -


For the Rest of the Story, Check Out Our Partner Site, The Bay Area Sports Journal!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Warriors beat Kings in fourth quarter comeback thriller

End of first half: Kings 61, Warriors 46

The Kings controlled the first half, dominating the final 2:07, and held the Warriors scoreless on a 10-0 run while Monta Ellis rested on the bench.

The Warriors jumped out after the opening tip with high energy. Aggressive play led to four Sacramento team fouls with more than 10 minutes to play in the first quarter, and rsulted in Kings center Spencer Hawes going to the bench with two early fouls. This actually hurt the Warriors as Hawes's replacement, Jon Brockman, gave Sacramento a spark with his size and energy. In the first half, the Kings controlled the game, but didn't pull away.

Tyreke Evans gave the Warriors big problems, continuously getting in the lane. Evans led the Kings in scoring with 25 points, but it was two unlikely sources who hurt the Warriors. Ime Udoka scored 19 points, two points shy of his career high. Udoka shot 4-6 from three point range and grabbed a game high 14 rebounds. Beno Udrih had another solid game against the W's, as he scored 20 points in the Nov. 8 win at Sacramento. This time he went off for 14 points, six boards, and four assists.

At half time, the Warriors chances to win looked doubtful. They failed to score in the final two minutes leading up to half time and lost Anthony Randolph to a nasty looking ankle injury.

The third quarter didn't inspire hope, as the Kings pushed a 15 point half time lead to 18. The Warriors found the energy to cut the lead to 10 points to start the fourth quarter. The change in momentum was keyed by the Warriors taking the ball to the rim rather than settling for perimeter shots.

Two key stats stood out in the dramatic comeback win. First, the Warriors won the battle of turnovers 17-12. The raucous Oracle Arena crowd helped the Warriors force two critical shot clock violations in the fourth quarter. The second stat is free throws. The Warriors were 29-34 and the Kings were 21-25. Corey Maggette shot 12-14 from the line in a 24 point effort. The eight point advantage from the free throw line made the difference in the Warriors seven point win.

Needless to say, Monta Ellis was spectacular, scoring a game high 39 points. The production of Ellis and Maggette give the Warriors a chance to win every night, especially at home. The Warriors could be even better if C.J. Watson or Anthony Morrow contributed 10 a game. Also, I would like to see Steph Curry look for his shot more and continue to build confidence.
Lesson from the win over the Kings: Don't settle for jumpers, get to the rim and get the opponent in foul trouble. Maggette deserves major props for sacraficing his body every night to ignite the offense.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Warriors hold off T'Wolves 107-101

The Warriors avoided losing to the worst team in the Western conference, beating the T'Wolves 107-101, despite getting outscored 57-46 in the second half. The Warriors played an awful third quarter and would have lost to any other team in the West. The Warriors pulled ahead in the first half with a 31-9 run, but let the T'Wolves back in the game in the third quarter. Corey Maggette got things going when the offensive well of ran dry. Maggette got to the rim, made free throws, and hit midrange jumpers to give the Warriors separation.
Maggette had a game high 28 points, nine rebounds, and went 12-14 from the free throw line. Corey has averaged 24.7 points over the past 10 games, played like the Maggette the Warriors thought they signed in 2008, and helped take pressure off Monta Ellis (Monta is averaging 29.7 points per game).

I like the the line up of Ellis, Curry, Morrow, Maggette, and Biedrins, it's the essence of Don Nelson's basketball philosophy. Curry and Morrrow can spread the defense for Ellis and Maggette and Biedrins can rebound and work the pick and roll game.

The Warriors are home for most of January, but face some good teams. The next three games are against the Kings, Cavs, and Heat. Some Warriors fans are looking ahead on the calendar to the Jan. 29 game at Oracle. The Warriors take on the Bobcats and Stephen Jackson, who has done a resuscitation job similar to the one he did when he came to Oakland in 2006. It will be weird to see Jack in the Bobcats cantaloupe orange and I expect his response to the boo's will be a big game.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nuggets steal game from Warriors, refs blow multiple calls

Un-be-lievable. As a Warriors fan, I haven't been so disappointed since 2006 when gun toting Gil Arenas hit three free throws with no time in the game to beat the Warriors. The T was called by Darrick Stafford on Don Nelson for stepping on the court. If you have been following since "We Believe", you remember that moment and how awful that call was. That Wizards call, just like tonight's horrendous call against the Nuggets, is an example of the refs deciding the game rather than the players.

Jason Phillips, the referee who blew the call, is probably buddies with Tim Donaghy and should be investigated for fixing the outcome of this game. It's not just the last "phantom foul" on J.R. Smith that Phillips missed, he ignored the Warriors bench calling for timeout when Corey Maggette stripped Nene. Instead he called a jumpball, which led to the Nugs possession and the crime of that awful call. Monta Ellis did not foul Smith when J.R. chucked up a half court prayer.

It's to bad the refs are getting discussed rather than some Warriors who played great games. Corey Maggette scored a season high 35 points on an efficient 12-16 shooting and 7 boards. He is on fire. Stephen Curry scored 26 points on 10-13 shooting, 6-6 on three pointers.

For the Nuggets, Ty Lawson scored 21 points and dished 7 assists. Kenyon Martin scored 27 points with 13 boards.

The Nuggets were without three key players in Carmello Anthony, Chauncy Billups, and Chris Anderson, so the player that took the court matched up evenly. The Warriors could have done better to increase their lead, but sloppy play prevented any breathing room. For the first time this year, the Warriors executed down the stretch, getting a go ahead bucket and a defensive stop, but it was not meant to be.
Mr. Stern, I implore you to investigate Jason Phillips and his dubious call. Or maybe it's teams from Oakland that get hosed by incompetent officiating.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Warriors play Nuggets tuesday

The Warriors began the new year with a loss on the road to the Blazers, who suited the league minimum eight players. The Warriors played three solid games leading up to the Portland contest, beating the Suns, Celtics, and took the Lakers down to the wire.

Against Portland, the Warriors exploded in the first quarter scoring 41 points, the most by any team against the Blazers this year.

Don Nelson openly criticized his "smalls" for allowing Portland's backcourt do whatever they wanted. (Outside of Monta Ellis, of course, who scored 30 points) The final three quarters of the Portland loss were ugly, but not a reason to think the recent success is a fluke. The Blazers were embarrassed losing to the W's earlier in the year, especially Brandon Roy.

The Warriors ran into a hungrier Blazers team. Sometimes a rotation of eight guys can find a good chemistry and play better than a 10 or 11 man rotation. (Example: the W's upset the Mavs in Dallas with six bodies earlier this year)

The next game is against the Nuggets at Denver Tuesday Jan. 5. The last game against the Nugs on Dec. 1 was ugly, as the Nuggets dominated a Warriors team without Biedrins or Turiaf. The Nuggets seem to match up favorably against the W's, but I expect the game to be closer this time around.
Bad news: the Warriors play the second game of a back to back Wednesday

Good news: That game is against the T'Wloves