Sunday, January 30, 2011

Warriors snap four game skid with win over Jazz

If I told you Monta Ellis scored two points for the entire game, would you suspect that game resulted in a win for the Warriors? Of course not, but isn't that a great rhetorical question? Well, the Warriors did win and five different players scored in double figures. Of those, Steph Curry led the way with 27.

To paint an accurate picture, Utah's all-star guard Deron Williams did not play with a sprained wrist. The Jazz struggled to shoot the ball and missed D-Will's ability to get in the paint, open things up on offense, and get to the foul line. He drives everything Utah does on offense.

Nevertheless, the Warriors will take the win, especially after the worst loss of the season to the Bobcats.

Monta Ellis had a bad week and his two point performance was concerning. To his credit, he realized he wasn't feeling it on offense and used himself as a decoy and moved the ball around to his team mates, finishing with five assists.

Ellis' dip in production makes people wonder what's really going on. Is there some physical ailment? Perhaps that ankle is still hurting from the Jan. 21 game versus the Kings when Tyreke Evens rolled on Monta's leg in the overtime period. Or maybe Monta could have a slight concussion from hitting the back of his head against Gerald Wallace's shin in the first quarter of the Bobcats game...Also, Monta's back could be tired from carrying the entire team all season. He could be distracted by all the trade talk going around in bay area sports sections...Whatever is going on, Ellis will never let on. That's what makes him such a tough competitor and such an intriguing person.

Andris Biedrins tallied another double-double, going for 11 points and 10 rebounds against a solid center in Al Jefferson.

It was interesting to see the Warriors spread the offense around with Ellis having an off night. Sometimes it seems the Warriors have stand around and watch as Ellis defies gravity and racks up points in highlight reel fashion.

Curry ran the point, while Monta looked to set up team mates. It worked. I would like to see Monta stay in this distributor mode, until he gets more single coverage looks on defense, then go back to burning opponents for 30 points per game.

I hope general manager Larry Riley and owner Joe Lacob don't make any hurried moves this season. It will take too much time to develop chemistry and with the talent the Warriors are capable (or incapable) of luring out to the bay area, they will still be well below the elite of the NBA and Western Conference.

Let this team build chemistry and see what kind of players you have moving forward. Why make a hasty move before you are ready to seriously compete for a playoff run?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bobcats comeback to beat Warriors in OT

The most disappointing loss of the season happened last night at the hands of the Charlotte Bobcats and Stephen Jackson. The Warriors controlled the game most of the way through using hot shooting to go on runs. In the first half, they played solid defense and made stops and defensive rebounds.

The Warriors did well to improve areas which needed improvement over the current three game losing streak. Andris Biedrins and David Lee had double digit totals in points and rebounds. Biedrins has been hearing it from basketball fans in the bay area for not stepping up or giving the Warriors anything on offense. He scored 10 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. If Beidrins gives the Warriors that, they usually win.

Golden State's bench also came through with 22 points. Not great, but better than the last two games.

The Warriors had this game won several times. They would build a lead, then let the Bobcats get back in. In the third quarter the Warriors led by 16 points, 76-60. Suddenly, the Bobcats went on a 11-0 run to end the third quarter and pull within five points. The ugly stretch of basketball highlighted a glaring problem for Keith Smart's ball club: they struggle in the last minutes of quarters.
As telecaster Bob Fitzgerald said after the game, "the Warriors lost this game in the end of the third quarter."

They did. It was the ugliest meltdown Warriors fans have seen all season. It almost negates the win in Sacramento Dec. 21.

Of course, Stephen Jackson had to be the guy to rip the hearts out of Oracle arena's chest by banking in a desperation three with six tenths of a second on the clock. Sure, it was kind of lucky, but the Warriors had countless chances to put the game away and they failed to do it. Monta Ellis could have made it a four point game, but he missed a free throw just a possession before Jackson's game tying shot. They could have secured a defensive rebound and ended the game. They failed to do that.

If this game was a car, the Bobcats stole it. But the Warriors left it unlocked with the keys in the ignition.

This loss is bad, really bad. This loss cancels the four game win streak they put together prior to the four game slide. The was a game the Warriors needed to have.

Monta Ellis didn't look like himself this game. He shot 6-24 and made five turnovers. I wonder if Ellis is completely healthy or maybe little worn down from leading the league in minutes. The Warriors don't seem to have any grittiness or physical presence on the floor and it shows in the amount of touch fouls they committed in the second half. It was lazy and bad defending.

Let's get real, this is not a playoff team. The Warriors will not be in the playoffs this year. They will not have a better record than Houston or Portland. They are in the worst kind of place: Not good enough to be in the playoffs, not bad enough to get a top draft pick. In all fairness, the Western conference is a meat grinder and achieving a playoff birth is a very difficult feat. Also, there can be jewels found deep in a draft.

I know owner Joe Lacob is very unhappy after what happened last night, and that's good because he cares. I would not be surprised if he made a move soon, but I hope he doesn't try to make things happen this season. The Warriors need another off season to put more pieces together through the draft and free agency. I don't have confidence a trade will benefit this team in the long run, not at this point.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hornets win tenth straight

The loss to the Hornets makes three straight now for the Warriors. The final score was 112-103, but the game was less close than the score implies. Chris Paul and the Hornets controlled the game. The Warriors looked a few steps behind, as they allowed layups and dunks and gave away points off turnovers.

The Hornets were on fire from the field and made 13 of their first 16 attempts and finished the game at 62 percent.The Hornets are hot right now and have won 10 straight.

As much as the Warriors and their fans wanted this game, they can't be too surprised in a loss to a quality team like the Hornets. Or the Spurs the night before. There are simply too many holes in this team. As great as the back court is, with Curry and Ellis combining for 46 points, the front court is holding them back. When I say front court, I refer to Andris Biedrins, who scored 2 points (off two free throws, shockingly). Biedrins made no shots from the field.

Biedrins looked like he might be coming along during the four game win streak just a weak earlier, as he has shown more post up moves and activity, but when he gives the Warriors an abysmal game like kills them. I know it hurts to leave $9 million on the bench, but look at what the San Francisco Giants had to do with Barry Zito. Ekpe Udoh should start for now. Two points is unacceptable and puts too much pressure on David Lee.

The Warriors are not a playoff caliber team in the Western conference with the current roster. Biedrins is an underachiever, but they are stuck with him. No one wants to take on that contract. Even more discouraging is the Warriors bench. If Reggie Williams is not shooting well, there is nothing coming off the bench. Even if Biedrins was in his 2007 form, the Warriors would still struggle to hang with good teams because of the drop off in talent at the second unit.

Will the Warriors new owner Joe Lacob make a move before the trade deadline? There has been talk than he is not attached to keeping anyone on the roster and will do whatever he can to improve the team going forward, even if that means trading the beloved Monta Ellis or Steph Curry. A lot of Warriors fans, including myself, don't want to hear that. Warriors fans love Monta and Steph and to part with one of them would involve a blue chip trade deal. Not an injury prone Chris Kaman or old rickety Rip Hamilton. It would have to be a blue chip like Carmelo (even though that won't ever happen) and some first and second round pick.

The current configuration isn't working and tenth is the West is not good enough.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Warriors can't hang with Spurs bench

The Spurs beat the Warriors for the eleventh straight meeting 113-102. Playing the Spurs has become a reality check for the Warriors, a placement exam as to where they are in the Western conference. The Warriors starters played a solid game, David Lee played great. He scored a season high 31 points.

The Warriors stayed close most of the way through, but the Spurs bench is what set them apart, as they outscored the Warriors bench 46-14. Anyone who has watched the W's this season knows they have a nice starting five, four of whom can score 20 plus on any given night (one of them averages 26), but they lack the fire power off the bench to hang with deeper teams like the Spurs, Lakers, or even the Thunder.

OKC has James Harden and Serge Ibaka to plug in off the bench. The Mavs (when healthy) are an elite team because they can bring a player like Jason Terry off the bench. The Lakers bring in Lamar Odom, who would start for just about every other team in the league. In order to compete for a championship, you have to have a super sixth man who can let go of his ego and be ready to dominate against an opponent's second string players.

The Warriors could have beat the Spurs, but it would have taken a perfect game. That means no touch fouls, high shooting percentage, and forcing the Spurs into more turnovers. Also, the Warriors needed to limit the free throw disparity. Didn't happen. I'm sick of the phrase "out-classed". It's like saying the Warriors may as well just forfeit before playing becasue they aren't even an NBA team...Competition against the Spurs will help the Warriors improve, win or lose.

Let's just say this: the Spurs are a team, along with the Lakers, who are suited to compete for a championship. Each player on that team plays within himself. They don't take foolish shots, they show patience, and they run the plays Pop calls. They space the floor, wait for screens, time their cuts perfectly, shoot in rhythm , and they all have nice midrange games. I know people are sick of them, but I would like to see the Spurs win a ring over the Lakers, Heat, Celtics, or any other team that improves through free agency. The spurs are home grown and let their play do the talking.

Warriors fans should still be encouraged. David Lee is hot right now and looks back to form from that elbow infection injury. Steph Curry, if he can stay on the floor and out of foul trouble, is heating up, too. So the Warriors have lost two straight. The loss to the Clippers could have easily been a win (if you let Blake Griffin shoot 10 three pointers like the one he made to seal the game Jan. 22, I honestly think he'd make two..maybe). And the Spurs...let's just move on.

The next game against the Hornets will be tough as New Orleans has won nine in a row. The Warriors beat the 'Bugs' in N.O. so they have to be confident, yet they need to find some production off the bench. Reggie Williams is capable, but cold lately. Vlad Radmanovic has also cooled off from his Dec.-Jan. hot streak. Maybe Ekpe Udoh can give the Warriors some offense.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Warriors best Kings in OT, Monta hits second big shot in consecutive games

Last night's game was thoroughly enjoyable from section 105, as my fiancee, Kira, and I got a clean look at Monta's big shot to send the game into overtime. This shot was even bigger than the one he hit last game over the Pacers just two nights ago.

Monta used the same move, drive right, hesitate, crossover left, pull-up, fade away, and hit! With that momentum, the Warriors dominated overtime and broke the Kings hearts once more. Again, if Monta is not an All-Star, the integrity of the event is in question. NBA fans, not just Warriors fans, deserve to see a player like Monta showcase his talents.
Click here to see video of Monta's big shot, courtesy of my fiancee Kira.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Warriors top Pacers, Monta hits game winner

The win over the Pacers Jan. 19 was one of the most dramatic wins for the Warriors all season, maybe second to the Dec. 21 come-from-behind overtime win against the Kings.

The 16-23 Pacers are better than what their record suggests and are probably the only team that has road wins against the Lakers and Heat. The Pacers set a physical tone in the first quarter, specifically Tyler Hansbrough, and punished the Warriors for not boxing out. The former North Carolina Tarheel scored 12 points in the first quarter and exposed the Warriors for playing soft defense.

The Pacers went on a 19-2 run that spanned the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second. The most glaring problem for the W's in this game was the lack of bench production. During the Pacers big first half run, the bench went 0-7 from the field. As usual, Monta Ellis came to the rescue and put the Warriors on his back with an eight point flurry to end the second quarter on a 10-2 run.

With 3:12 left in the third quarter, the Warriors were still without a single point from a non-starter.

After a poorly played second quarter, the Warriors picked up the defense in the third and forced the Pacers to turn the ball over.

With 1:15 left in the game and the score tied at 105, what would be the deciding statistic of this game?Would the Pacers points at the free throw line (25-14) be enough to overcome all their turnovers? (20 to the Warriors 12)

If the Warriors could get production from the bench, just a morsel, it would be enough. That morsel came from the energy of Brandan Wright, who entered the game for Andris Biedrins in the fourth quarter. Wright grabbed four big rebounds and scored six points on 3/3 shooting. B-Wright surely earned some more playing time with the boost he gave his team down the stretch. A.C. Law also contributed 7 points and made both of the three pointers he attempted, one of them a half court shot to end the third quarter.

Reggie Williams and Vlad Radmanovic struggled and combined to shoot 0-7 from the field and 0-5 from three point range. Both players need to stay aggressive and continue to go to the rim, Williams especially. Reggie is the type of player who can get himself to the foul line when he makes his mind up to drive. The Warriors need to get to the foul line more and that will only happen if players like Williams stay aggressive.

The Pacers could have won this game and were up by as much as 11 points, but they could not stop the Warriors from making plays when it mattered the most.

Monta Ellis missed a jumper with under a minute left, but David Lee fought to keep the possession alive and got the ball back out to Steph Curry, who hit a runner to put the Warriors up 108-105 with 21 seconds in the game. Curry, foolishly fouled Darren Collison on a lay-up and allowed Indiana's point guard to convert a three point play. It wouldn't matter. With the game tied at 108, everyone knew Monta would have the ball in his hands. He hit a tough fadeaway jumper in Danny Granger's face with .06 on the clock and it would be the last make of the game to give the Warriors a third consecutive victory.
Monta continues to prove he is unstoppable with the ball in his hands, as he finished with a game high 36 points, outplayed Danny Granger, and hit the biggest shot of the game. He continues to put up big scoring totals and carry the Warriors when needed. I strongly believe Ellis will be elected as an All-Star reserve. If he doesn't...I strongly question the integrity of the All-Star event.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Warriors cut down Nets on MLK Day at Oracle

The Warriors are winners of two in a row after beating the Clippers on Jan. 14 and the Nets today in the Marin Luther King Jr. Day matinee at Oracle.

The win over the Clippers was much needed, not only to stay above L.A.'s other team in the standings, but more so the win provided a psychological boost. After losing to the Warriors, the Clippers beat the Lakers and Blake Griffin scored 47 points in a win over the Pacers at Staples Center. The Clippers have some really talented young players on their roster and look to be moving in the right direction. Obviously, Blake Griffin gets all the attention with his dominant play, but Eric Gordon is their guy on the perimeter to compliment Griffin. Gordon proved to be a handful for Warriors defenders as he put both Monta Ellis and Steph Curry in foul trouble throughout the game. These teams will meet for the final time this season on Jan. 22 in L.A.

The Warriors were able to hold off the Nets on Jan. 17 for the MLK day game which started at 1:00 P.M. Both teams looked thrown off by the early start time, as the energy was casual and lacked the intensity. It looked like the speed of a walk-through in practice. While the Warriors led the entire way, the Nets wouldn't die, as they hit shots and out-hustled the Warriors for a few runs. Dorell Wright had a rough game. He wasn't terrible, but he made some errors that showed he wasn't focused. He failed to collect a long rebound that bounced right to him and it led to a Sasha Vujacic jumper. On another play, he got his pocket picked by Brook Lopez on a transition off a Monta Ellis steal. D-Wright's struggles were compounded by some missed lay-ups at point blank range. I like how Keith Smart subbed in Vladamir Radmanovic, who has been giving the Warriors a big boost off the bench. I can live with D-Wright having an off night, especially in a win. He still scored 10 points and he will bounce back against the Pacers on Jan. 19.

The Warriors got solid games from D-Lee and Monta, other than that, they played down to the level of the 10-31 Nets. Ellis scored 26 points and added nine assists and Lee scored 24 points and added 10 rebounds.

Opposing coaches have tried to use more zone defense looks to force the Warriors into settling for perimeter shots. In theory, it doesn't make sense since the Warriors shoot the ball so well, but it's been effective at times. With a dribble perpetrator like Monta Ellis, a big who passes as well as D-Lee, shooters like Curry, D-Wright, Reggie, Vlad...the Warriors should shred anyone who wants to play zone. I would like to see the Warriors use more zone to lure teams into a shootout pace and create fastbreak opportunities off missed jumpers. Maybe it would also help them foul less.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lakers beat Warriors in thriller, Kobe and Monta duel

The Warriors should not be disappointed after losing to the Lakers 115-110 Jan. 12. They led the two time defending champs at the end of the first, second, and third quarters. Both teams played their a game. The Warriors moved the ball and hit open shots in the half court and scored fast break points off Lakers turnovers. The Lakers got back in the game with a 15-1 run toward the end of the second quarter.

In the first half, the Warriors didn't commit stupid fouls (outside of Dan Gadzuric), they closed the quarters out strong, and took care of the ball. In the third quarter, they fell back into fouling. The Warriors fouled the Lakers six times before L.A. committed one on the W's. The fouls in the third quarter prevented the Warriors from getting out on that fast break which served them well in the first half. Monta Ellis carried the Warriors and Kobe Bryant carried his Lakers.

In the fourth quarter, the game turned into a duel between Monta and Kobe. Despite the outcome, it was Christmas/Hanuka for basketball fans. Credit the refs for letting the two stars play because it got physical between both of them. Monta got up in Kobe's face and Kobe took Ellis to the rim and scored. Kobe got up in Monta's face, only to have Ellis step around him and hit a reverse lay-up to answer.

The duel between the two unstoppable offensive forces invoked memories of a game I attended with my dad when I was 17 years old. On Dec. 6, 2000 Antawn Jamison and Kobe Bryant each scored 51 points in an overtime thriller won by the Warriors.

The Warriors played a great game, but the Lakers stole the momentum in the fourth quarter with Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom dominating the paint and the front line of the Warriors. The under-performing front line of the Warriors has been a subject of discussion around the Bay Area. Andris Biedrins has been the name people cite when referring to the lack of production. Biedrins, who is making $9 million a year, has not only been unproductive, but has become a liability. His inability to make a free throw has spiraled into a phobia of working around the rim and has made Biedrins down right timid. Opposing team have scouted the Warriors to not pay attention to Biedrins, as his defender can leave him to help on defense.

In 2008-09, Andris averaged double figures. He was a solid pick and roll finisher alongside Baron Davis and cleaned up on tip-in put backs. It seems like Biedrins' struggles are more mental than physical, but they need him to be the player he was back in 2006, 07', 08' in order to compete for a playoff spot. Otherwise, the Warriors are at a big disadvantage when they play any team that matters in the West.

One of those teams are the Clipper, who the Warriors play Friday night at Oracle. The Warriors will have to repeat their brilliance to beat the Clippers, who are playing great basketball right now. The Clippers front line of D'Andre Jordan and Blake Griffin will be a problem once again. But will the Warriors put a body on Jordan? Will they refrain from committed stupid touch fouls? Will they lure the Clippers into a fast break game? If the Warriors can hang close in the rebound category and turn the Clippers over, they'll have a chance.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Warriors take on Lakers for last meeting of season tomorrow

Still no news on the Carmelo trade talks, except the Nuggets threatened to trade the Melo man to the Knicks, as if to say "you're not my real dad!" The Nuggets front office has handled this whole thing terribly, and I know an incompetent front office from years of being a Warriors fan.

Hopefully a deal doesn't get done before this Monday when the Warriors take on the Nets on a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee at Oracle Jan. 17. Anytime the Warriors can avoid playing against Carmelo Anthony is good, no matter what team he plays for.

The time off will surely help the Warriors lingering injuries heal. David Lee's back and elbow, Steph Curry's ankle and hip, Monta Ellis' neck and ankle, Andris Biedrins' ankle, and all the other ailments that go unspoken.

The Warriors should be hungry after an ugly loss to the Cippers in L.A. where they played poorly. Ellis, Curry, and Lee had bad numbers and should bounce back like the professionals they are.

It will be interesting to see how David Lee performs against the Lakers. In first game, he was handily beaten and outplayed by Lamar Odom and held to zero points scored in a 107-83 loss at the Staples Center Oct. 31. In the second meeting against the Lakers on Nov. 21, a 117-89 loss also at Staples, David Lee was inactive. The game before was the loss to the Knicks when Lee encountered Wilson Chandler's foul mouth. The Warriors are still at a disadvantage compared to the Lakers, but I always like the chances of a team in the next game after a frustrating loss.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Carmelo Anthony might be headed to New Jersey

A Carmelo Anthony trade might actually be happening according to a Yahoo! Sports article by Adam Wojnarowski. The rumor suggests Anthony, Chauncy Billups, and the Piston's Rip Hamilton might soon join the New Jersey Nets. According to the article, the Nuggets would receive Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, and ex-Warrior Anthony Morrow.

Carmelo Anthony has been publicly unhappy in Denver and there were rumors Anthony and Chris Paul would join A'mare Stoudamire in New York to form a "big 3" to compete with Miami. Apparently Denver isn't interested in anything the Knicks have to offer, so New Jersey seems to be the likely home for Carmelo, especially with the deep pockets of Russian zillionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

The Warriors nation would love to see this trade happen. After seeing Stoudamire go to the Knicks and Carlos Boozer going to the Bulls, this could be another shift in power from the West to the Eastern Conference, a shift that certainly behooves the Warriors along with some other teams.

If the Nuggets lose Anthony and Billups, they will likely miss the playoffs. Also, the Suns are a team on the decline after trading away Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu as well as the questionable health of Steve Nash. The New Orleans Hornets are also not a lock to be in the playoffs. If the Nuggets aren't in, that really opens up the sixth, seventh, and eighth spots in the West. That means the Hornets, Blazers, Rockets, Grizzlies, Suns, Warriors, and Clippers will all compete for those last three spots.

If the Warriors can take advantage of this home stand that goes through January and into early February, they can take advantage of the Western Conference becoming slightly weaker. That's if the 'Melo deal actually goes down.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Warriors terrible in loss to Clippers

The Warriors took a step backward in a frustrating loss to the Clippers Jan. 9 at Staples. Blake Griffin and Baron Davis had double doubles and Eric Gordon poured in 25 points in a disjointed game with no flow. The Warriors committed 32 of the game's 52 total fouls, many of those fouls were of the touch variety.

Monta Ellis and Steph Curry combined to go 6-32 from the field and David Lee looked like Peter Griffin against Blake. Lee finished with 8 points and 3 rebounds. Outside of Dorell Wright, the Warriors were awful. That's what happens when a team like the Warriors plays a team like the Cavs, the overall play goes down from competing against a lesser opponent.

The Warriors didn't work to create good shots and constant fouls prevented them from initiating early offense or any type of fast break. The W's showed a general lack of energy against an active and talented young team.

The Clippers are a team on the rise. Since team USA last summer, Eric Gordon continues to prove he is growing into an elite scorer in the NBA. Baron Davis is rejuvenated and Blake Griffin has provided B.D. with assists galore. Griffin's activity drives this team. When Chris Kaman gets back, this team will have some depth and be a factor for the 8th spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

The NBA is funny. Sometimes teams come out and simply play bad. Even the Lakers, who were a juggernaut, stumbled for a stretch of games when Andrew Bynum was reintroduced into the lineup. The Warriors are allowed a poor game and so is Monta Ellis.

The Warriors will be home for the rest of January and be able to practice. This game will give Keith Smart a long list of things NOT TO DO. The Warriors cannot afford to commit so many fouls, especially touch fouls. The Warriors need to work on three on two and two on one fast break conversions. These are must-have opportunities which must be converted in order for the Warriors to beat any decent team and they've been poor at converting these. The Warriors need to do a better job of closing out quarters as the Clippers won the game in the last five minutes of the second quarter on a 21-4 run.

The Warriors shouldn't play this bad in the next game, unfortunately the next game is against the Lakers. It should be competitive, unlike the previous meeting with Lakers where the Warriors were flogged the whole game. The Warriors get the opportunity to avenge this loss on Friday Jan. 14 at Oracle. I think Ellis will have a big game.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

W's handle injury riddled Cavs in a laugher, 116-98

Aside from the meetings against the T'Wolves, the Jan. 6 game against the Cavs was a laugher and I hate games like that.

The Warriors played down to the Cavs level and didn't have to work to score. The body language of the Warriors players was casual. Rather than take the Cavs seriously and finish the game early, they let Cleveland hang around in the first half. The Warriors, now the NBA's best three point shooting team, poured in the treys as they hit nine of their first 12 attempts, but sharp shooting will not always be there.

The Warriors turned the ball over, but Cleveland was simply awful and didn't punish Warriors misques. Any other team would have burned the Warriors for the mistakes they made, but the Cavs were too bumbling. The Warriors played tight defense when the Cavs knocked on the door, but the defense was fairly casual for most of the game. The Cavs shot themselves in the foot with unforced errors and turn overs.

The most disappointing event in the contest was when Mo Williams committed a flagrant foul on Steph Curry in the third quarter. With the contest well out of hand at that point, a frustrated Williams wrapped up Curry while the W's guard was gliding in the air on a breakaway layup and totally vulnerable. Curry fell hard on his hip and left the game. Curry converted his free throw attempts, left the game, and returned briefly in the fourh quarter.

Usually when defenders commit that "wrap up" type of foul, they hold onto the offensive player to slow their momentum. It's what Jim Barnett calls professional courtesy. Maybe if this was game seven of the NBA Finals, I could see that type of foul being more appropriate (a la Detroit Pistons of the 80's), but that was not the situation. The Warriors were trouncing Mo's poor Cavs with minimal effort, his pal LeBron ditched him for Miami, and his team is the worst in the league. The Warriors, however; are still competing to make the playoffs in the Western conference and Steph Curry is an integral part of the Warriors accomplishing that.

Mo Williams: LeBron left the team largely because he didn't believe in you. You turtled under pressure in the playoffs, but at least you won't have to worry about being in the playoffs for a long time, maybe the rest of your career. I almost feel sorry for you, Mo. Just last season you LeBron, and all the Cavs were dancing and choreographing pre-game routines, and now your team is a long faced bunch that can't beat anyone. Don't mess up our season just because LBron didn't think you were good enough and took his talents to South Beach. Your foul on Curry was classless. To quote Kobe Bryant, "You need a hug."
I was pleased to see David Lee shove Williams to the floor with 3:34 left in the game as Williams went up for a layup. Lee could have fouled even harder, but he just wanted to send a message, not actually jeopardize Williams health like Mo's foul on Curry.

Hopefully eating a cupcake like the Cavs didn't make the Warriors too soft for the next game against the Clippers Sunday Jan. 9. The Clippers are playing great basketball. Baron Davis is playing like the Baron Warriors fans grew to love back in 2006-07' and he has Blake Griffin to throw down his passes for dunks. While Davis and Griffin are threatening to put up double-doubles, Eric Gordon can quietly rip of a 30 point game. There will be some interesting match-ups in this game. Will Monta guard Baron? Or will Keith Smart use Dorell Wright like he did against Chris Paul in the fourth quarter? Perhaps Ekpe Udoh will be called upon to defend Blake Griffin.

The game is a matinee, 12:30 on Sunday Jan. 9.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Warriors beat Hornets 110-103 in New Orleans

The Warriors entered this game with a fully healthy roster for the first time in 202 games (as told by telecaster Bob Fitzgerald) and it made the difference in a big road win against a quality opponent.

Both teams shot the ball well to start, but the Hornets took control of the momentum with a 9-0 run. Amidst the brief scoring drought, the Warriors tried to feed Lou Amundson in the post and A.C. Law took and missed some jumpers. The Hornets rejoiced to see these players try to initiate offense, rather than watch Monta Ellis, Steph Curry, or Dorell Wright shred them.

The Warriors bench was outplayed by that of New Orleans in the second quarter. The defense of the Hornets forced the Warriors into some ugly offensive possessions and the W's finished the half at 42 percent from the field.

Every team goes through dry stretches during a game. The good teams find a way to get to the foul line to survive these stretches. The Warriors were able to do this during their push in the fourth quarter, but not so much in the second quarter. The Hornets pushed their lead with a 12-0 run.

In the third quarter the Warriors were near flat line, down 13 points with four minutes left. A 9-0 run sparked by some three point connections by Ellis got the W's back within four, but they let the Hornets push it back to 10 going into the fourth.

The fourth quarter was dominated by the Warriors, as they went on a 13-3 run to start what would be a 38 point quarter and pull out an important victory for this team looking to make a run this month.

The emergence of Ekpe Udoh is a big boost to this Warriors front line. Udoh didn't light up the boxscore, but his activity and energy make him valuable on defense. On offense, he had a nice post up baby hook over David West in the fourth quarter. It showed his patience, skill, and readiness to play with the first team in a pressure situation.

The Warriors are a running team that thrives on early offense and struggle when the pace of play slows up. With a healthy roster, it will be fun to see how players who have not had court time with one another, develop chemistry.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Warriors fall to Magic 110-90

The Florida road trip, against the Heat and Magic, is equally as tough as the the Texas trip against the Spurs and Mavs.

The Warriors losses to the Heat and Magic were similar. The Warriors moved the ball on offense, specifically with Monta Ellis penetrating the lane then kicking to open three point shooters. They didn't have David Lee to work any inside game and the Warriors couldn't get to the rim when Dwight Howard was in the game. Still, they found ways to manufacture points by forcing turnovers and getting solid bench production.

Brandon Wright played his best game of the year as he scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds in 19 minutes. Hopefully the playing time will give B-Wright more confidence when Keith Smart needs him. Ekpe Udoh played better than the six points and four rebounds in the box score. He is a clever shot challenger on defense, as he doesn't commit many fouls. Udoh is also patient on offense. He can hit that 15 foot jumper and his pet shot is a baby hook inside.

In the second quarter, Monta Ellis sat for the first nine minutes and Reggie Williams produced seven points while the W's MVP rested.

The third quarter was a repeat of the Heat game Jan. 1. The Magic scored the first nine points of the half and grabbed momentum, as they hit 8-10 from three to start the half. The three's started falling for the Magic and the Warriors looked a bit demoralized. They couldn't seem to find the energy to chase three point shooters off the line and they weren't sharp executing the offense.

The Warriors need to find a way to work through the pattern of not knowing where to go when the perimeter looks don't fall. The three point shooting can disappear as quickly as it comes. They must find a way to run some plays through Monta, D-Lee, or D-Wright to force the refs to call fouls. When the shots aren't falling for good NBA teams, they force their way to the free throw line and stay in the game that way.Free throws also stop teams from ripping off big runs by slowing the pace of the game. The Warriors get to passive when they shoot well, but that's who they are. The three ball is their ticket to win.

The Magic, like the Warriors, need to hit three's to win. They count on teams doubling Dwight Howard, who kicks it out, then the ball rotates around the perimeter until it finds the most open shooter. It will be interesting to see how Eastern conference teams decide to play Howard. Will they live with him pushing his way around inside and stay home on perimeter shooters, or will they double more and risk leaving people open?

Eastern conference at a glance

The Celtics have played the best basketball so far, but health could be a problem down the stretch. Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett are the two players they cannot be without in the playoffs. The Magic, like the Mavs, are a better regular season team than a playoff team. They have too many liabilities on defense to win the East, let alone win a championship. Barring an injury to one of the "big 3", the Heat should be the team to come out of the East this year. They play defense, they can get to the line and make free throws, they run the floor...they can play grind out or shoot out. They will only build more chemistry as April approaches.

Warriors outlook

The Warriors went 1-3 for this road trip, but competed well. The loss to the Hawks was close the whole way and they gave both the Heat and Magic a first half scare. D-Wright is blossoming into a trusty offensive option and the bench is giving the Warriors more production. The Warriors should get Andris Biedrins back soon and get 10 out of 13 games at home in January. If the Warriors are going to get it together and make a push, this is the month it will happen.