Thoughts on Game No. 6: Grizzlies 109, Warriors 104
By Geoff Lepper
OAKLAND — Warrior fans were treated to a tantalizing glimpse of the future Friday — at least until a couple of deficiencies dredged up from the past blotted out the landscape.
The sight of second-year player Brandan Wright and rookie Anthony Randolph holding down the power forward slot in the absence of veteran Al Harrington (sore back) was a welcome one to fans who want to see the team build around those two potential stars.
But a 55-41 rebounding deficit and 13 missed free throws — hallmarks of Warriors losses from throughout the 2000s — cost Golden State in a 109-104 loss to Memphis.
“That’s a game we could have won,” guard Kelenna Azubuike said. “We’ve just got to take care of the little things down the stretch. We’ve got to knock down free throws, play defense. You can’t win like that. It’s that simple.”
Fourteen offensive rebounds and 11 second-chance points in the first half served as a lifeline for the Grizzlies, who shot 37.5 percent from the floor but still were down just 50-48.
That half nevertheless featured the first significant playing time for Randolph, who made his NBA debut Monday in Memphis with a meaningless 87 seconds. He came on with 4:24 left in the first quarter in place of Wright. He missed his first shot, a 19-foot jumper, and was called on the next possession for a foul trying to push Hakim Warrick off the block.
“I was over excited,” Randolph said. “I’m not even sure how to describe it. It was more than excited. . . . I was probably having a little panic attack.”
Randolph calmed down enough to collect eight points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes. After struggling with his outside shot for much of the exhibition season, it was gratifying for Randolph to gather all four of his buckets between 17 and 21 feet from the basket.
“I thought he looked pretty good tonight,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said. “He had some nice moments, and he definitely has a presence to his game. . . . He got some consistent minutes and made his presence felt a little bit.”
Wright, making the first of what’s expected to be many starts as the Warriors hand him the keys at power forward, finished with only six points, two rebounds and one chipped tooth in 21 minutes.
Nevertheless, the framework was laid in place for a Wright/Randolph partnership.
“I think once me and Brandan grow as players, we can be great defensive players, because we’re both so long and athletic,” Randolph said. “We complement each other. You take one out, it’s not like you’re losing anything.”
** Nelson said he went small in the third quarter in response to the Grizzlies’ shorter front line of Warrick, Rudy Gay and Darrell Arthur. And while Memphis did outrebound Golden State 16-11 in the period, that was more a byproduct of the Warriors’ inability to create any offense outside the paint. They were 1-for-9 beyond 10 feet, shot 39.3 percent total and collected only two assists as a team.
** Nelson has said for weeks that he doesn’t want the Warriors to take as many 3-pointers as they did last season. Now we see why. With Stephen Jackson’s 0-for-6, Golden State wound up going 2-for-12 from distance. That drops the Warriors’ season totals to 34-for-119 (28.6 percent), putting them squarely in the bottom third of the league.
** So much for the idea that Warriors rookie Richard Hendrix might provide some beef to bang with Memphis’ Marc Gasol: Nelson said that Hendrix will be making the Patrick O’Bryant Memorial Pilgrimage to Bakersfield, and soon.
“I don’t think that he’s ready yet, and I’m going to put him in the D-League, probably for most of the year,” Nelson said. “I think that would be good for him, and then we’ll take a look at him. I don’t see that he’s going to be NBA-ready for quite a while.
** Corey Maggette is still hoping to play Sunday in Sacramento, but it sounds like Nelson would rather err on the side of caution after letting him back into the game at Memphis on Monday with negative results.
“I think what I learned from the game in Memphis was that if he’s suffering in the first half, it’s better for me not to play him,” Nelson said. “Because first of all, he doesn’t play worth a shit when he’s trying to play hurt. And then it probably keeps him out an extra game afterwards, so it’s a lose-lose. So if he’s tender in those areas at halftime, and he wants to give it a go, I’m going to say no, let’s wait. I think that’s better for him and better for us.”
** As posited in this space earlier Friday, C.J. Watson did indeed start, although it was such a late change that rookie DeMarcus Nelson, who started the Warriors’ first five games at the point, was announced on the main scoreboard with the other four starters.
Watson finished with eight assists, eight rebounds and no turnovers, but shot 1-for-7 from the floor and had three of the Warriors’ six misses from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
** Larry Riley, the former assistant coach who was booted upstairs Thursday to replace Pete D’Alessandro as assistant general manager, will miss the creature comforts of traveling with the team in its chartered Northwestern jet. All except for one, that is:
“I won’t miss those doggone card games with Nellie,” Riley said. “He’s killing me. He’s just killing me. So that’s something I can give up.”
Said Nelson, a bit wistfully: “I don’t know who I can find to be that bad at gin rummy.”
10 Responses to “Thoughts on Game No. 6: Grizzlies 109, Warriors 104”
Kenny Seagle, Emperor of the North November 8th, 2008 at 1:41 am
well at least it wuzzent a boring loss…. but aside from the nice first dance (dont count that 87 secs) by randolph, strong image wuz of a more & more confident Andris…. hes stepping up as an alt/go-to guy…. but the way hes taking it 2 the hole, spin moves, foot work, etc… if u have a front line of randolph-wright-biedrins, u have a swarm of tall, long arm atheletic guys with good feets….capisci????
I won’t complaint at any losses this year when the kids get to play meaningful minutes.
Hendrix was supposed to be “readiest” of all our kids, yet he needs more time?
Dude woulda helped on the glass.
Any Griz player who drove to the basket got an easy basket. GSW need to foul and take charges, get physical, and protect the hoop.
commish November 8th, 2008 at 6:53 am
I just can’t believe Nelson kept in such a small ball lineup for most of the third with Wright and Randolph and Ronny on the bench. I mean we were getting creamed. So what did Nelson do? He brought in Marco who was equally abused. Marco still looks lost and nervous. He is getting good looks but just off. I wonder if he’ll get better with more playing time or is he, more or less, a bust? I did like his effort on defense most of the time. Anyway, in keeping with my Nellie bashing theme, I would say he lost this game for us in the third by staying small for so long. I just don’t get it. But at least a lot of younger players got burn. Too bad about Hendrix getting shipped to the D League. We could use one more big body other than Ronny.
Belinelli’s defense was considerably improved.
He just needs to make his damn free throws and finish intelligently.
The jumper should come around with more consistent time, but defense will earn him that time.
petaluman November 8th, 2008 at 1:42 pm
Any word on Watson’s recovery? His shooting is clearly effected by the injury or brace, or both. His FG% is down, but that can be a bad game or 2. However, he shot around 80% on FTs for us last year, and even higher in the NBDL. Right now he’s at 61% (of course, DN is at 13%). Wish him well from us!
In SL, I think we used Hendrix almost exclusively at center. What position does he play in practice, or are they working him at both PF and C? Although we don’t have direct control in Bakersfield, will they generally honor any requests they get from the donor team regarding what the player works on while there?
Stephen Jackson almost won that game for us but Nellie overplayed him again.
Jack is an All Star on a better team.
On a better team, Jackson is an effective third wheel behind two real all stars.
His efficiency statistics are pretty bad; his counting numbers look good due to pace and minutes played.
Jack is the key to wins. Remember how we started last year?
Yeah, with Mickael Pietrus at power forward.
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