Sunday, February 28, 2010

Warriors beat Pistons after trailing at halftime

The Warriors found a way to beat the Pistons Saturday night without leading scorer Monta Ellis. Not entirely shocking, as Stephen Curry has been better than Ellis since the All-Star break.

The Pistons shot a lousy 42 percent (11-26) from he free throw line and allowed the Warriors back into the game in the second half. The Warriors employed a "hack-a-Ben" strategy down the stretch to put Ben Wallace and his 40 percent free throw average at the line. On one of the trips, he air balled both attempts. Why did the Pistons coaching staff allow Wallace to be in the game at that critical point?

Intentionally fouling of a poor free throw shooter could be a problem in the future for Andris Biedrins. Unfortunately, Biedrins was not around to see how the game played out, as he re-aggravated his groin injury and left the game early.

The most surprising part of this win is the fact that the Warriors failed to reach the 100 point mark, but still pulled off the win.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Billups, Nuggets shoot down Warriors

Chauncy Billups took advantage of the Warriors from opening tip to the end. Stephen Curry looked like a lost two year old l in the grocery store, spinning around in circles looking for his mommy. Billups went 3-3 on three point attempts in the first quarter, scoring 11 points. Billups finished with 37, the same amount he scored in the last meeting, an overtime win over the W's. Billups is one of the top four point guards in the West, and one of two "superstar" level players on the Nuggets. There is no excuse for losing track of Billups at any moment. The Warriors payed, letting Chauncy go 6-8 from three.

Curry's weak defense was overshadowed by his offensive production. Curry finished with 30 points, 13 assists, and 7 rebounds. Unfortunately, while Curry got things going on offense, making shots and creating for his teammates, Monta Ellis disappeared. Ellis made one field goal in the second half and finished 6-22 shooting. Supposedly, Ellis was playing with a sore back, but who doesn't have some kind of physical ailment at this point of the season. And if Ellis knows he isn't completely healthy, he shouldn't take so many shots.

It looks like Ellis is displaced, and he is with the emergence of Curry's game. Ellis is the kind of player who needs to know his role. When he was third option to Baron and Jack, he took high percentage shots and did his part with 24 points on 9-12 shooting. When those players shipped out and left Ellis as the featured threat on offense, Ellis carried the Warriors on his back and became one of the top scorers in the NBA. Maybe all the minutes are setting in on Ellis. I hope so. The other possibility is Ellis is frustrated that he isn't the featured player anymore. Curry is growing in popularity every game, making Ellis more expendable if one or the other has to go. Ellis has no right to be upset, if he is. He was the one who messed up his ankle on a moped and missed most of last season. Ellis was the one who said that Curry and himself would not work before they ever took the court. I don't disagree with Ellis in the fact that the Warriors are at a big disadvantage on defense with Curry and Ellis together and only works for a Nelson coached team where defense is a non factor.

I'm not giving up on Monta after one bad game, but there is a campaign going on right now a try-out for who will be the foundation of the future. If Warriors fans and front office had to chose between Curry or Ellis, who do you think they would chose? (This is hypothetical, so don't say both)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

76ers dominate Warriors

The 76ers, like many teams in the league, seem to have to Warriors number this year. After an emotional win over a top Eastern Conference team in the Atlanta Hawks, the Warriors had to like their chances against Philly, who are a lesser team than the Hawks. The last meeting against the Sixers was in Philly at the end of a road trip, as the Warriors apologists will mention, and resulted in the Warriors getting beat down in a varsity versus frosh ugliness.

To the disappointment of hopeful Warriors fans, the Sixers dominated the game. The Warriors made a push in the fourth, but I won't get into all the details, that's for Warriors beat writers. As usual, several Warriors opponents achieved career and season highs against non-existent Warriors defense. Rodney Carney had a season high 16 points that came easier than a pre-game shoot around, shooting 3-5 from three point range. Lou Williams, a young player getting better every year, scored 26 points and matched a career high with five three point makes, including a dagger to put the game away.

I don't want to hear the Warriors apologists make excuses about how the Warriors "just didn't shoot well" or "they sure played a great fourth quarter". The bottom line is they lost the game because of horrible defense. The 76ers towel boy could have scored against the Warriors. If CJ Watson isn't scoring, he's useless, as he often allows opposing point guards to blow by him. Anthony Morrow couldn't guard without fouling, and Steph Curry is always a target of the opponent's offensive game plan. Monta Ellis is the only Warriors player that can guard on the ball and sometimes he finds foul trouble trying to be too aggressive.

When the Warriors win, it's because of offensive production from the guards and wings. The 76ers guards and wings were far better than Golden State's. Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguadala, and Rodney Carney created fast breaks, got easy buckets, shared the ball to get open shots, and used their superior athleticism to bother the Warriors perimeter focused offense.

The Warriors are the most exciting team in the NBA when they are making shots, but when they can't convert on offense, it's like watching a lion take his time on a broken legged zebra. It's gonna be ugly.

Notes: Andris Biedrins played only 9:00 in the loss to the 76ers. In an interview with The Razor and Mr. T on KNBR, Don Nelson said, "(about Biedrins) I'm not going to rub his belly anymore. If he's not willing to make a contribution, I'm going to take him out for someone who is." Biedrins has shot 3-23 from the free throw line this season and has looked hesitant to initiate offense inside.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Warriors come back to edge Hawks

Warriors fans with enough character to resist changing the channel in the third quarter (or head for the parking lot if they attended) were rewarded with a thrilling fourth quarter comeback. The Warriors competed in the first half as they have in many games this season, then hit a wall in the third, as they have in many games this season.

Don Nelson's extra diminutive line-up of Curry, Ellis, Watson, George, and Morrow allowed Al Horford, the Hawks dynamic All-Star center, to shred the Warriors inside. Horford scored a quick 9 points in a 21-8 Hawks run, pushing the lead to 73-59. This is the point when frustrated Warriors fans reached for the remote and the Hawks bus driver warmed up the engine.

Don Nelson looked like a coach eight games away from having the most wins of all time, rocking the Hawks to sleep in the third quarter. Maybe it was part of Nelly's master plan, but he made a game changing decision with the insertion of Chris Hunter into the line-up along side Andris Biedrins in the fourth quarter. The two bigs did well to expose a Hawks team that lacks a true center, as Horford is 6'9" in Timberlands and Josh Smith likes to operate on the wing. The Golden State bigs defended the paint, rebounded, and allowed Curry, Watson, and Morrow to get a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter to get right back in the game. Curry had 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Nelly's second game changing move was resting Monta Ellis for most of the fourth quarter. The combination of Curry, Morrow, and Watson has built chemistry during the time Ellis spent recovering from his knee injury last week. They share the ball and trust one another to make open shots. Nelson subbed Ellis for Morrow with 4:07 in the game, the Warriors were up 99-97. A rested Ellis brought energy on defense, made two critical steals, and shut down Joe Johnson, Atlanta's best offensive player. Curry scored 32 points and was the MVP last night, but the Warriors would not have won if not for the production from Chris Hunter.

Nelson silenced the nay sayers for now. I can see Nelson after the game smoking his Montecristo and sipping a whiskey sour, smirking to himself knowing he out- coached Mike Woodson and his playoff bound Hawks. Mike Woodson's post game speech probably borrowed phrases from former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, "They are who we thought they were!" ..."And we let em' off the hook!!!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Warriors drub Kings, Curry outplays Evans

Warriors 130, Kings 98
The Warriors beat the Kings in convincing fashion Wednesday night by the score of 130-98. A 31-3 Warriors run spanning most of the second quarter made it ugly early. During that run, Stephen Curry scored 11 points and dished out 6 assists. Curry finished with 24 points, 15 assists, and six rebounds to bounce back from a bad offensive game against the Lakers the night before. Tyreke Evans, Curry's goateed rookie contemporary, had 17 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, and three steals. Despite Evans' solid game, Curry was the more dominant player and his intuitive passes sparked the Warriors offense. Curry's 15 assists marked a career high.

CJ Watson played the best offensive game of his NBA career, in place of Monta Ellis, making his first eight field goal attempts and paced the Warriors with 21 points in the first half. Watson finished with a career high 40 points on 16/23 shooting.

Perhaps it was the nostalgia of a visit to the Staples Center that inspired Deavan George to play like he did with Shaq, Kobe, Fisher, Horry, and Fox in 2002. George shot 4-6 from three point range, 6-10 from the field, and notched a season high 16 points in place of Correy Maggette. Maggette played limited minutes in the first half and spent the entire second half in the training room due to tightness in his left hamstring.

Stephen Curry Growing

The last two games have caused a fissure in Warriors nation, a splitting of sides: fans who favor Monta Ellis and fans who favor Stephen Curry. The last two Warriors home games have moved some fans into the latter camp. Even when Curry shot the ball poorly against the Lakers, he distributed the ball well enough to keep the Warriors competitive. Curry lacks the explosiveness and ability to create around the rim that Ellis possesses, but Curry's recent play has shown he can facilitate the offense better than Ellis.

The trade deadline passed today and the Warriors chose not to deal anyone (aside from rumored wishes to dump Maggette's contract for the expiring contract of Zydrunas Ilgauskus, which never materialized with the Cavs). Trading Ellis at this point would have been the wrong move on many levels. As good as Curry has looked, Ellis is still the best player on the team. Also, there are too many unanswered questions due to the biblical amount of injuries. The Warriors could have the production they need sitting in street clothes on the bench. Lastly, the Warriors are likely to get a high draft choice, which will another options to the core group of players to rebuild around. If they draft another wing player, trading Ellis might be the path to getting a front court player who can fill a need, if necessary.

It will be interesting when Ellis returns to the starting line-up. Will he take a more hands off approach and less shots for the better of the team, and thus allow Curry to make plays and facilitate? Or will Ellis go back to imposing his will on offense, a style that sometimes discourages ball movement, but accumulates big stats for himself?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kobe-less Lakers beat Warriors

The Warriors put up a fight against the mighty Lakers, but couldn't take advantage in Kobe's absence. Instead, the W's let Shannon Brown get a career high 27 points. Its no longer shocking to see he Warriors lose, but I was shocked to see a picture of Shannon Brown on my Yahoo! homepage. (Like scoring 27 on the Warriors is some kind of achievement) No disrespect to Brown, he's a good young player in a fortunate position. When the defense has to game plan for Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum, and Kobe, Shannon Brown is going to get open. Props to Brown for capitalizing on the opportunity, but scoring 27 on the Warriors is equivalent to a 15 point night against most other teams (which is still productive). Brown is overrated, though.

In the post game interview, here is what Brown had to say:

“I didn’t really know that Kobe was going to be out again, and that I was going to start until we had our pregame talk.”

“I just tried to come out and be aggressive. That team was a great team for me to play against. They’re the type of team that likes to get up and down, and I like to play like that."
When Brown says "up and down" he means the Warriors play no defense. It's no coincidence that many players have had season and career highs against the Warriors this season. Brown is not the only player that "likes to get up and down." If you're a guard in the NBA and you don't like to get up and down, you won't last long. Brandon Jennings likes to get up and down also, notching a 55 point game against the W's in November. Even Beno Udich, a third rate guard Kings, has lit up the Warriors. I think he likes to get up and down, too. Sorry Shannon Brown, but getting praise for scoring 27 on Golden State's satin soft defense is like giving a boxer a belt for beating on a punching bag or out-sprinting someone on the last quarter mile of the Boston Marathon.

On a rare positive note, Stephen Curry nearly had another triple-double going for 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. Unfortunately Curry shot a dreadful 5-21 from the field.

Derek Fisher and Sasha Vujacic are taking advantage of playing in L.A. and showcased skills that could have only been learned from Hollywood acting classes. Both Lakers players flopped and whined for foul calls, many of the going against Steph Curry, who found foul trouble early and contributed to his woeful shooting night. Credit to Fisher for rendering Curry ineffective, granted he is a cheap player. Fisher and Vujacic could create a new niche in coaching after their careers are over, as flop coaches. Seriously, players should be fined for attempts to flop and mislead referees. It's perturbs me to see players flop, especially on such a talent loaded team like the Lakers, who don't need that nonsense to win.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No Kobe, Monta tonight

The Warriors are in LA tonight to take on the world champion Lakers tonight at 7:30. The Lakers are currently 41-13 and sit atop the Western conference, while the Warriors are 13-37 and second to last in the West behind the pathetic T'Wolves.

Monta Ellis will not be available as he is in Mississippi for a knee examination. To even things out, the Lakers will be without the services of Kobe Bryant, who is nursing a sore ankle. The Lakers have have played well together, specifically Lamar Odom, in the absence of Bryant. Kobe was recently voted player of the decade by fan voting on The Warriors looked good without Ellis against the Clippers, as Steph Curry recorded his first career triple-double.

More to come after the contest

Monday, February 15, 2010

All-Star game ho-hum, weak dunk contest

The All-Star game was stupid, a parade of egos and pompous children. Each event was contrived and more fake than pleather. The negative reviews do not come from a bitter place inspired by the Monta Ellis triple snub. (Chauncy Billups, Chris Kaman, and Jason Kidd were all chosen as replacements for injured All-Stars over Ellis) From an unbiased perspective, the All-Star events sucked.

The dunk contest was stupid. Nate Robinson is 5'8" and can dunk, OMG! The short guy-who-can-dunk gimmick was done by 5'7" Spud Webb in 86'. Nate Robinson is not in the top 50 players in terms of dunking ability in the NBA. Let's see LeBron, D-Wade, Dwight Howard, and the real superstars. The dunk contest was weaker than the NFL Pro Bowl in terms of no-name participants. Isn't the idea behind the All-Star weekend to have competitions involving the best? Get off the stage Nate Robinson, hardly good enough to be a starter on the lowly Knicks.

I lieu of the dunk contest, I would like to see an 'NBA Jam' contest. Remember the video game that took the top two players on each team? Imagine Kobe and Gasol versus Paul Pierce and Garnett. Chris Paul and David West versus Tony Parker and Tim Duncan or Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer....Or maybe create a one-on-one tournament. Even if the top players didn't want to put their egos on the line, the intensity of one-on-one would make for an entertaining event. (I would like Monta Ellis one-on-one against anyone)

After the self promoting, jersey marketing event that is the All-Star game, it will be nice to get back to the regular season. The trade deadline is this Thursday Feb 18, less than three days. It will be interesting to see if trade rumors hold up. Will Caron Butler go to Dallas? Amare Stoudamire to Cleveland? Will Warriors GM Larry Riley put his money where his slow southern accent is and make a deal to bring a "quality palyer" to Oakland?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Warriors at the All-Star break

No need for an All-Star break report card for the Warriors. It's safe to say they would be on the wrong side of a pass/fail grading system, although an incomplete would be more fair. No other team in the NBA has been more injured than the Warriors, putting them at a disadvantage from the beginning of the season.

The Warriors enter the break with a record of 14-37, third worst in the league. The Warriors fell below pre-season expectations, yet they were expected to have more healthy players. The injuries not only hurt the Warriors record, but they slow the development of a team in the rebuilding process. We still don't know if Brandon Wright can be productive. If he played this year, good or bad, at least the front office would have been able to move forward. The jury is still out on Randolph, as the 20 year old has shined at times, but still lacks fundamentals and any post moves. Kelenna Azubuike was getting off to a great start, until he fractured his patella in November. Every player on the team has been out with some ailment, except rookie Steph Curry.

Curry's last game against the Clippers has sparked multiple conversations regarding the future and philosophy of the Warriors. When Mona Ellis sprained his knee in the loss to the Mavs on Feb 8, it was the injury to insult. It was the ninth game in a tailspin of losses, in a pathetic season soon to be worse with no Ellis. The Warriors entered the Feb 10 game against Clippers with no Ellis and no Corey Maggette, the top two scorers on the team. Most Warriors fans expected Baron Davis, Chirs Kaman, and Eric Gordon to take advantage of the shorthanded W's.

Like many Warriors games this year, the game was not very competitive. Unlike many Warriors games this year, it was the Warriors doing the damage. Steph Curry scored 36 points, dished out 13 assists, and grabbed 10 boards for his first career triple double. With Curry as the primary facilitator, the ball moved freely and the Warriors set a season high for themselves in assists with 36. They shot 62 percent from the field and 59 percent from beyond the arc. It was a break through performance for Curry and the Warriors.

Voices of Warriors Nation, pro writers and drunks in the 200 section alike, shouted toward the direction of GM Larry Riley. Those voices advocated trading Ellis while his value is at it's peak. The ball doesn't move with Ellis and Maggette on the floor and Curry should be the primary ball handler.

I strongly disagree with trading Ellis just because Curry has a brilliant game. The Warriors still don't know what they have with a full healthy roster, a trade right now would be guess work. It's almost certain Riley will make a deal before the Feb 18 deadline while he can deal the expiring contracts, but don't expect Ellis or Curry to move.

I strongly agree that Curry should facilitate the offense and Ellis should develop his off the ball game. Curry has earned that privilege over the course of the year, punctuated by his triple double game.

It will be intriguing to see how Don Nelson integrates Curry into a role of higher responsibility and if Monta Ellis can allow Curry to facilitate. Ellis said he just wants to win, and that will take sharing more shots with Curry.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Warriors losing streak at nine, Ellis injured

As the season progresses, the Warriors reach a new low. Never mind the nine consecutive losses, the playoffs have been out of the picture since November. Actually, most Warriors fans invite the losses in hopes it will improve the chances of scoring the number one draft pick and a franchise changer in John Wall.

The Warriors actually played a decent third quarter and led 98-90 going into the fourth. Yes, it was disappointing to see the Warriors completely deflate in the fourth quarter, but Warriors fans have come to expect such shortcomings this season. The loss was nothing compared to watching Monta Ellis writhe and grimace on the floor after twisting his left knee. If you only know one thing about the Warriors, you know Ellis is the only link to relevance. Ellis is the only reason Warriors fans come out to Oracle Area. Ellis will have an MRI on Tue. Feb 9.

Another issue of frustration was the allocation of minutes by coach Don Nelson. Ellis, Curry, and Morrow played over 40 minutes, Tolliver and Turiaf over 30, and Biedrins 24 minutes. CJ Watson played six minutes and would have played less if not for Ellis going down in the last three minutes. Chris Hunter played one minute. Basically, Nelson played a six man rotation and it showed in the end as the Warriors were gassed before the fourth quarter began. I don't blame the record number of injuries sustained by the Warriors this season entirely on Don Nelson, but tired players are more likely to get injured. Where was Coby Karl? He played 30 minutes three days ago against the Thunder. Now, the Warriors will not sign Karl to another 10 day contract.?? Karl isn't a force to be reckoned with, but the Warriors need warm bodies at this point. How will the Warriors marketing team sell tickets with no Monta?

"The next fan to buy a four pack is entered for the chance to
win a 10 day contract for your Golden State Warriors!!!"

Performance of note: Anthony Morrow's effort was the best of the season. He scored 33 points on 12-20 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished out 4 assists, and went 5-9 from three point range. The Warriors needed Morrow to step up in place of Corey Maggette, who was unavailable after dislocating his left ring finger Sat. Feb 6 against the Thunder, and will not be available against the Clippers Feb 10.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mavs edge Warriors, Ellis scores 46 points

The losing streak extends to seven games with the loss to the Mavs Wednesday night. Monta Ellis A.K.A. "Mr. Unbelievable" scored a career high 46 points, while receiving little support from his teammates. Ellis could have tallied over 50 if not his 8/13 from the free throw line.

Ironically, on the same day of his 46 point game, Ellis was re-snubbed for an All-Star bid. NBA Commissioner David Stern appointed Dever's Chauncy Billups to replace injured Chris Paul. Not to say Billups isn't deserving, as he leads one of the elite teams in the NBA. I don't see how Ellis could be passed on twice, but like Nuggets coach George Karl, I'm biased by seeing my guy (Monta) light up opponents nightly.

While it would have been special to see a Warriors player make the All-Star team for the first time in 13 years, it's better that Ellis get some rest. He deserves to have some time with his family and rest his legs. The absence of Ellis in Dallas will be the loss of the fans, as they are the ones who will be snubbed of the opportunity to see one of the most exciting and entertaining players in the league.

Can we really take the All-Star game seriously? What kind of conspiracy allowed waning superstar Allen Iverson to crack the starting lineup for the East? What a joke.

Expect Ellis to benefit from the extended rest. There will be more 40 point games to come, wins are another story.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rockets thump Warriors 119-97

As predicted, the Warriors lost in Houston, a season sweep for the Rockets. The Rockets jumped out to a huge lead, scoring 39 in the first quarter. The Warriors trailed by as much as 21 in the first half, but Monta Ellis caught fire in the second quarter. The Warriors (or Ellis) fought to get within one point before the half.

The Warriors played a pathetic third quarter per usual. At the end of the third quarter, Ellis was the only Warriors player in double figures with 34. With under 11:00 to go in the fourth quarter, the Rockets led 85-69, Monta's 34 totalled half of the Warriors points.

The recently named rookie of the month in January, Stephen Curry had a rough shooting night, going 6-18. Correy Maggette did not play and it showed in the lack free throw attempts with 15. The Warriors front line contributed nothing. Is Biedrins still hurt? Why did he and Roni have to play in that stupid Eurobasket tourny? It's hurting their performance of their regular jobs. Anthony Tolliver looked like he didn't belong in the D-League, let alone the NBA. He went 2-8, scored 4 points, grabbed a measly rebound, and generally wasted space.

Ellis left the game for good at the 9:18 mark in the fourth quarter and finished with a game high 34 points.

Tomorrow night the Warriors play the Mavs, who are hungry to avenge the embarrassment of losing to a Warriors team that played a 6 man rotation. I don't know how a team could have less energy, but we will see what that looks like tomorrow.

The Warriors have lost six straight and it's not going to stop before the All-Star break. The injury problems, the D-League craze, and all the rest of the excuses are old...

As Tim Roye says, the rest of the season is stat time...or garbage time.

Warriors in Houston tonight

No surprise the Warriors lost to the Thunder and allowed Kevin Durrant to score an effortless 45 points. D-League call up Coby Karl got solid run and showed the ability to facilitate the offense. No offense to Karl, but that's not a good sign. The Warriors are devastated by injury. The Warriors suck. This isn't news.

Tonight the W's visit Houston to play the Rockets. The Rockets will be without back-up point guard Kyle Lowery and forward Shane Battier is questionable. Either way, I don't see the Warriors halting their current five game losing streak tonight. To make matters worse, the W's play the second game of a back to back tomorrow night in Dallas. The All-Star break seems like an eternity from now.

Briefly: Anthony Morrow has been named to the Rookie Sophomore Challenge and will compete against his rookie teammate Stephen Curry. Morrow will take the spot of Derrik Rose, a second year player who was named as a reserve for the Eastern All-Star team.