» 2008 » October

  • Oct

    By Geoff Lepper

    Don Nelson always said he’d go with the lineup that gave him the best chance to win.

    He never said anything about giving it any rest, however.

    The King of Smallball went big for once Friday, and it worked for 44 1/2 minutes. Then came the inevitable fatigue, and a 112-108 overtime loss to Toronto.

    Stephen Jackson once again played point, Corey Maggette moved to the 2, Al Harrington to the 3 and Ronny Turiaf — who a couple weeks ago was slated for only for backup center duty — manned the 4.

    But for all the great work that group did in staking the Warriors to a 93-88 lead, it all came crashing down in the final 3:30 of regulation, when Golden State scored once — a 3-pointer from Harrington that came only because of a fortuitous bounce after Jermaine O’Neal spiked a drive by Maggette.

    “Everybody had their shot at it,” Nelson said. “We didn’t deliver that much, but we got the ball where we wanted it when we wanted it. We were 3-for-16 in the fourth quarter. You can’t do that and expect to win.”

    A typical possession came with 46.5 seconds left and the Warriors clinging to a 93-92 lead: Maggette gathered in a pass on the right wing and turned to face Raptors swingman Anthony Parker. After three ineffective jab steps elicited no movement from Parker, Maggette settled for a 17-foot jumper that came up short.

    At the other end of the floor, Chris Bosh practically sprinted past a gassed Andris Biedrins — one of four Warriors to play more than 40 minutes Friday — for an uncontested dunk.

    “In the preseason, we weren’t playing 40 minutes,” said Harrington, who was already sucking wind in the classic hands-on-knees position midway through the third quarter. “Right now we are, so it’s something we’ve got to get used to, get adjusted to, and quick.

    “The preseason is usually a time where you’re resting. It seems like we should have been playing a little bit more so we’d be prepared for now. It’s going to take us a couple of games to get adjusted to and then we’ll start knocking our shots down in the fourth.”

    ** Going big worked defensively because the Warriors were able to dominate on the glass even though Sam Mitchell went with Nelson and tried to out-muscle him by using a combination of Jermaine O’Neal, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani combo.…

  • Oct

    Allow me to pause for a moment to highlight the fact that, per Tim Kawakami, the Warriors are now scrapping with former coach Mike Montgomery over more than $1 million of disputed salary.


    Montgomery and the Warriors: Ends in arbitration.

    Don Nelson and the Warriors (part I): Ends in arbitration.

    Don Nelson and the Mavericks: Ends in arbitration.

    Is there ANYONE who thinks that the new $12 million, two-year extension Nelson just signed — part of which is deferred money — is going to get paid without the involvement of many, many lawyers?

    I thought not.

    On to the games:

    Warriors (0-1) at Raptors (1-0), 4:05 p.m.
    Pick: Warriors +7

    Golden State threatens to steal the game outright, but when do-it-all captain Stephen Jackson misses the final 3 minutes to single-handedly fix a flat tire on the team bus, Toronto ekes out the win.

    Knicks (1-0) at 76ers (0-1), 4:05 p.m.
    Pick: Knicks +7.5

    One game was as long as I could stay away. Damn you, Knicks, you had me at “Mike D’Antoni.”

    Kings (0-1) at Heat (0-1), 4:35 p.m.
    Pick: Heat -6

    I had the Kings penciled in here, then realized Sacramento was in town for a night off in South Beach on Thursday. Has anyone done a study of Miami ATS when the opponent has spent the previous night there? I’m thinking 80 percent, easy.

    Magic (0-1) at Grizzlies (0-1), 5:05 p.m.
    Pick: Magic -6

    Even if this was the only NBA game scheduled for tonight, I still wouldn’t watch it.

    Bulls (1-0) at Celtics (1-0), 5:05 p.m.
    Pick: Celtics -8.5

    I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of these games where I keep saying, “Boston has to be able to cover that — they’re the freaking defending champions!” and it just doesn’t make a lick of difference.

    Nuggets (0-1) at Clippers (0-1), 7:35 p.m.
    Pick: Nuggets -2

    And, of course, Marcus Camby is not expected to play.

    Spurs (0-1) at Trail Blazers (0-1), 7:35 p.m.
    Pick: Trail Blazers +2

    This is one of those games where I’m going to be a day late — should have picked the Suns over the Spurs but didn’t, and should be picking the Spurs over Portland, but I’m not.

    Yesterday: 1-2
    Season record: 5-13

    – Geoff

  • Oct

    By Geoff Lepper

    The annual talk in Warriors camp of improvement on defense begins to sound a bit like the NBA’s version of Chicken Little after a few years.

    But the patter grew in importance this time around because of the absence of injured guard Monta Ellis. Not that Ellis was a particularly sticky defender; he was far too easily rubbed off on screens last season, and despite his quickness, rarely put intensive pressure on a ballhandler before the mid-court line.

    But without Ellis’ innate scoring talents, the Warriors figure they’ll need to lock things down tight defensively to compensate.

    “Most Don Nelson teams aren’t teams that have had to hang their hat on defense,” Warriors forward Al Harrington said earlier this month, before his rift with the coach was brought to light. “But we’re going to have to, in order to hold the fort down until Monta gets back.”

    The results were mixed in the Warriors’ 108-103 loss to open the season on Wednesday. With Stephen Jackson playing all 48 minutes, primarily at the point guard position, Golden State was able to switch with impunity, as Nelson wanted. But the Hornets still shot 50 percent from the floor, and the Warriors only generated 14 turnovers, down from their average of 16.9 last season.

    Golden State had come in with reasonably optimistic expectations after a solid set of exhibition games.

    “I think we had one game that I wasn’t pleased, but with our defensive grade system, if you get in the 60s, from 60 to 65, you’re probably going to win,” Nelson said. “And our total grade point was 59 for the preseason. It was pretty strong.”

    That’s a change. There’s no point comparing raw scoring totals, since the Golden State’s pace of play skews that data so heavily, but a look at other benchmarks, such as opponent field-goal percentage, shows that Warriors of recent vintage have not fared well. Only once in the last nine seasons have they finished higher than 20th on that list.

    “We have guys that can play defense here,” newcomer Ronny Turiaf said. “Maybe the writers are not talking about it, or didn’t talk about it in the past, but I think that’s going to be a surprise to everybody, to see that somebody else can really play lockdown defense.”

    During the preseason, the Warriors were better at providing help defense than they had been last season, but began to suffer breakdowns when the player…

  • Oct

    So after pretty much tanking yesterday (thankfully, Sam managed to go one worse, proving I’m not the worst prognosticator on this board), I decided to call in reinforcements to take over today’s fairly light slate. A transcript follows:



    Hello, AccuScore.


    Love to. How about Global Thermonuclear War?


    Later. Let’s compromise on NBA Against The Spread.


    /Sound of computer whirring

    /Sound of computer whirring

    /Sound of computer whirring


    That’s why I called you, AccuScore.

    (All times Pacific. You want them Eastern, you start your own Web site.)

    Bobcats (0-0) at Cavaliers (0-1), 4:05 p.m.
    Pick: Bobcats +10

    Confidence: High
    I love that AccuScore predicts Larry Brown’s benchwarmers are going to get more time (3.2 minutes) than Sean May (2.7).

    Rockets (1-0) at Mavericks (0-0), 5:05 p.m.
    Pick: Mavericks -4.5

    Confidence: I Repeat, High
    Tracy McGrady really hasn’t gotten injured yet?

    Hornets (1-0) at Suns (1-0), 7:35 p.m.
    Pick: Hornets +3.5

    Confidence: Remains High
    Shaquille? On a back-to-back? You’ve GOT to be joking.

    Yesterday: 3-9
    Season record: 4-11

    – Geoff

  • Oct

    By Geoff Lepper

    OAKLAND — While Baron Davis and his Clippers were getting waxed from the get-go by the Lakers on Wednesday, the Warriors really could have used his expertise in the final moments at Oracle Arena.

    Tied with 1:56 to go, the Warriors were outscored 7-2 the rest of the way.

    Golden State missed its last five shots, had a critical possession go awry when it couldn’t complete a simple inbounds pass and watched the New Orleans Hornets take a 108-103 victory to begin the 2008-09 2007-08 season.

    A year ago, the Warriors’ plan would have been simple: Put the ball in BD’s hands and get the hell out of the way. Golden State went 9-2 in games decided by three points or less last season using that M.O.

    This time . . . not so much.

    “We went where we got decent looks. We didn’t make them,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said. “Last year, Baron made all of them. That doesn’t happen all the time, either. . . . I thought we just had one of those years last year where we made all of them. I think we won six or seven games with game-winners and probably only missed one.”

    The Warriors didn’t get that chance Wednesday. Down 104-103 with 14.2 seconds left, a clearly fatigued Stephen Jackson tried to inbound the ball to Corey Maggette, only to have it bounce out of bounds, allowing the Hornets to build their lead to three points. Al Harrington up-faked Chris Paul out of the way to get an open look at a 3-pointer, but it missed. And that was the end of the Warriors’ chances.

    ** So much for the deeper, more talented Warriors bench. Jackson played all 48 minutes — guarding Paul, then Tyson Chandler and everyone in between — Kelenna Azubuike was on for 43, and Harrington for 42. The Warriors only used two reserves for any length of time. Brandan Wright, the second-year forward who allegedly had earned a place in Nelson’s rotation, was nowhere to be found, along with Anthony Randolph, Marcus Williams and Marco Belinelli.

    “I told the subs that I’m not going to be able to play these guys this many minutes on this next road trip or for long periods of time, so we’re going to use our bench more as we move on,” Nelson said. “I chose really just to play six or seven guys most of the minutes tonight. I…