» Blog Archive » Thoughts on Game No. 17: Knicks 138, Warriors 125
  • Nov
    30

    By Geoff Lepper
    48minutes.net

    It was the end of a difficult five-games-in-seven-days road trip. Their captain and team leader was on the bench in street clothes because of a badly swollen and sprained left wrist. They were facing a highly motivated ex-teammate who wanted to prove a point.

    The Warriors better hope one of those excuses holds water. Because when Golden State dropped a not-nearly-that-close 138-125 decision to the New York Knicks on Saturday for its sixth consecutive defeat, it wasn’t just a loss.

    It was comprehensive surrender. Total capitulation.

    So total, in fact, that Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat said he saw Warriors coach Don Nelson leaving the bench several seconds before the final horn sounded. Honestly, I didn’t catch that, but I can’t say it would shock me if it was true. Whenever the camera caught showed a glimpse of Nelson on Saturday, he looked to me like a CEO who was stuck testifying before a Congressional sub-committee — someone supremely interested in being anywhere but there at that moment in that time.

    New York Knicks guard Chris Duhon drives on Golden State Warriors center Andris Biedrins (Associated Press photo/Frank Franklin II)

    New York Knicks guard Chris Duhon drives on Golden State Warriors center Andris Biedrins (AP photo/Frank Franklin II)

    Of course, you’d probably look like that, too, if your team was allowing a mid-level talent such as Chris Duhon to break a Knicks franchise record that had stood for nearly a half-century. Duhon had 22 assists, or one more than Richie Guerin notched on Dec. 12, 1958.

    “Wow, what a player,” Nelson said. “He looked like Steve Nash out there. Unbelievable performance. Whether we zoned him, switched him, it didn’t matter. He still found a way to hurt us. Really impressive performance.”

    The utter inability to even hint at an effective countermeasure to the Knicks’ high pick-and-roll — which David Lee rode to a career-high 37 points and 21 rebounds — was enough to render a Warriors fan nonsensical with rage.

    The Warriors consistently tried to stop Duhon (or Anthony Roberson) by having the big man step out on him, either to switch fully, or merely to impede his progress momentarily. But one of two things would happen:

    New York Knicks forward/center David Lee in a familiar pose from Saturday: Readying himself for a two-handed jam (AP photo/Frank Franklin II)

    New York Knicks forward/center David Lee in a familiar pose from Saturday: Readying himself for a two-handed jam (AP photo/Frank Franklin II)

    A) The smaller defender would fail to properly cover Lee on the roll, providing an engraved invitation for Duhon to find Lee immediately with a pass for a two-handed dunk;

    or B) Duhon would sail right around the larger man before zip a bounce pass to Lee (or, if the defender hung on a little longer than usual, hit him with a wraparound). The end result: Still a two-handed dunk.

    “It was just embarrassing,” said center Andris Biedrins, who was part of the crew that couldn’t stop a guy who looks like Conan O’Brien’s younger brother.

    What I cannot understand for the life of me is why on Earth the Warriors didn’t make an adjustment, why somebody didn’t say, “Hey, let’s have the big man stay home with Lee, and make Chris Duhon — a historically poor shooter whose 41.8 field-goal percentage from this season marks a career-high by a wide margin — hit some open 15-foot pull-ups if the Knicks want to hurt us with this play.”

    I mean, it couldn’t have hurt to try that, no? Especially given the fact that Duhon was the only Knicks starter to shoot less than 50 percent from the floor Saturday.

    Even if it didn’t work, it would have given the Warriors one more possible excuse.

    The Lineup Project
    As always, “small” equals one big man, “medium” equals two and “large” equals three:

    Lineup       Score               Time
    Large         N/A                 0:00
    Medium     26-22, GSW     9:26
    Small         116-99, NYK   38:34

    The medium numbers were tilted by a 3:15 stretch in the middle of the third quarter when a pairing of Biedrins and Anthony Randolph helped Golden State go on a 12-4 run that cut the deficit to 102-90.

    More on this to come Sunday night — check back for details.

    Notes
    Marco Belinelli started in place of the injured Stephen Jackson, played 6 minutes, then wasn’t seen again for another 90 minutes or so of real time before Nelson suddenly stuck him back on the floor — for all of 2 minutes. No wonder the guy has his brother spreading the word in the foreign media about how unhappy he is. I’m shocked he hasn’t gone the full Sarunas Jasikevicius route, openly questioning why the Warriors won’t make a deal and set him free. There’s always time for that, I guess. . . . When Lee passed the ball to himself for a slam in the third quarter after intercepting a Biedrins pass, it made for great highlight material. But here’s a tip, David: When you’re on a 2-on-0 break, and the other guy is the point guard (Duhon) who will eventually set up seven point-blank buckets for you, you might want to think about passing the rock as a sign of gratitude. . . . Hey Al Harrington: 36 points? 12 rebounds? That was straight filthy right there. By the way, great quote from Al in the early edition of the Chronicle gamer regarding Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni — and the implied differences between D’Antoni and Nelson: “Coach D’Antoni is one of the coolest, nicest coaches I’ve ever played for in my whole career. He’s so positive about everything. No matter what’s going on in the game, how you’re shooting, he won’t let you put your head down. That’s great to be around.” . . . The ambidextrous success Lee had around the basket came in stark contrast to Biedrins’ game, which is becoming much easier to defend because his off hand (the right) is just not enough of a factor. Biedrins did switch hands once during the game to score with his right, as did second-year forward Brandan Wright; after missing a tough lefty shot while turning over his left shoulder and into the lane (and a Knicks defender), he used a right-handed flip to score in a similar situation later in the game.

    Without Monta . . .
    Golden State once again lives up to my prediction by taking the L and staying on pace for 8-18. I have the Warriors winning three of their next five games: Monday against Miami, then the following Monday at Oklahoma City and finally Dec. 10 at home versus Milwaukee. Given how poorly they performed on this road trip, that may be even too generous. We shall see.

    Contact: geofflepper@48minutes.net

15 Responses to “Thoughts on Game No. 17: Knicks 138, Warriors 125”

  1. [...] back during the Vegas Summer League and has played in only two games this season. Boston Globe Marco Belinelli started in place of the injured Stephen Jackson, played 6 minutes, then wasn’t see…. I’m shocked he hasn’t gone the full Sarunas Jasikevicius route, openly questioning why the [...]

  2. Dear Geoff Landers,
    I’m not into conspiracy theories but this slide is surreal. Is a tank job going on? Is it possible that with 3 years to set the ship right, Nelson has been given RR’s blessing to lose for the chance at a high pick?

    No, I don’t really think they’re tanking, but a team really has to try to be this bad. Doesn’t it?

    Signed,
    Confused in Golden State

  3. Geoff, please show Nellie all the stats that show our big or medium line-ups have been the most successful. Apparently, Nellie is the only one on the planet that doesn’t know smallball isn’t working.

  4. This cbs sportsline article about Nellie is interesting, and it too entertains the notion of tanking.

    http://ken-berger.blogs.sportsline.com/mcc/blogs/entry/11838893/11979249

  5. Son of Ahmed,

    I really hope you weren’t among the Warrior fans who were expecting the Warriors to make a title run this season. Nelson has consistently said playing the youngsters will get you beat and so far he appears have a point. Those posters who were demanding Nelson play the younger players more are getting their wish but have to be willing to accept the good with the bad while they learn on the fly.

  6. Not sure what to say except I want to say something. Nellie pulled Marco after about six or seven minutes when he missed a defensive assignment and he never played again. That just sucks since 82 points were scored in the first half. What a joke to pull Marco when he could have benced every player at will. This coach has completely lost it; and, as usual, excpet for the blogs, the media is very quiet about the fact the Emporer is indeed naked as a jay bird.

    I emailed Marcus and asked him if there was any way to get some editorial time from the Times to begin a Fire Nellie movement but have yet to hear back, being Thanksgiving weekend and all. But no media outlet that I am aware of yet is screaming for Nelson to either be fired or kicked upstairs (yes, do the inevitable and fire Mully and end his misery) so Smart or someone else can start actually coaching this team.

    This is, relatively speaking, heartbreaking.

  7. I just think Nelson has something against Marco. Marco has the shortest leash on the team; one mistake and he is gone while other players can make multiple mistakes and not get yanked. And does Nelson think that anyone can prove themselves with playing times of less than 2 minutes per stint? Nelson seems like he is stuck in his ways and cannot adjust to play with what he has. I feel bad for the kid and they should just trade him so he can play and not rot on the bench.

  8. CL,
    My prediction for the team was 41 wins, and that was before the Ellis injury. I had low expectations in terms of wins, but high expectation in terms of developing the young, talented core of players on this team. I was willing to watch the team lose, so long as they were playing hard and unselfish basketball. We haven’t seen that. Making matters worse, Nelson’s rotations, small ball line-ups, and wacky defensive schemes have been vexing and counterproductive. I think Geoff’s statistical analysis show that the small ball rotations have been inferior to the medium line ups. He hasn’t even been able to collect a reasonable sample size to analyze a tall ball line-up.

    So, no, I’m not whining about losing; its the way they’re losing that is frustrating.

  9. [QUOTE]More on this to come Sunday night — check back for details.[/QUOTE]

    Did I miss it?

  10. Check out the big multimedia skills on Geoff!

  11. Son of Ahmed,

    “its the way they’re losing that is frustrating”

    Agree with you 100%

  12. “Wow, what a player,” Nelson said. “He looked like Steve Nash out there. Unbelievable performance. Whether we zoned him, switched him, it didn’t matter. He still found a way to hurt us. Really impressive performance.”

    That’s the biggest crock of horse bunky from the master of befuddlement.

    Watching Duhon blow by CJ and Crawfor as they reached for the steal 30x was like watching ground hog day. Nelson’s response: Classic Alfred E. Neuman. Nellie gets made King of Warriorland by Bobby and now he’s ready to retire? Revolting.

    P.S. Keep up the line-up stats Geoff, it’s a wonderful effort on your part.

  13. David: Didn’t have time last night, unfortunately. Check out the latest lineup stats here.

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