Thoughts on Game No. 21: Warriors 112, Thunder 102
By Geoff Lepper
So, how much do you think Warriors coach Don Nelson said he would fine anyone who dribbled downcourt and jacked up a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left on the shot clock against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday? $5,000? $10,000?
Whatever the case, the price was right in the Warriors’ 112-102 victory.
Where the Warriors managed to hoist four no-pass 20-footers in the space of nine possessions in the first quarter Saturday, they only did that once in the first quarter on Monday, and even that was by design: C.J. Watson was holding the ball at the end of the quarter, trying to drain as much clock as possible so as not to give Oklahoma one final shot, before hitting his own 18-footer.
Jamal Crawford was the biggest revelation on that front. Where he had been in the vanguard of the “Dribble, Dribble, Launch” Brigade in San Antonio on Saturday, along with Watson and Corey Maggette, Crawford was much more judicious in the application of his own offense Monday.
Against a team as pliable as Oklahoma City, Crawford could have gone wild; on Nov. 14 with the Knicks, he took 22 shots in 44 minutes and dropped 29 points on Thunder. But Crawford took only 13 shots Monday, instead choosing to show off his facility at getting Andris Biedrins an open layup off the pick-and-roll or with an unexpected wraparound pass.
In fact, the Warriors were guilty on occasion of being too unselfish, as when Ronny Turiaf passed up a wide-open dunk to give Kelenna Azubuike an opportunity to show off in his home state, only to be blocked from behind by Kevin Durant.
That was one of at least four instances of fast breaks gone awry, something that speaks, sadly, to the unfamiliarity of this team with running; it’ll be fascinating to see if Monta Ellis, when he does come back, sparks a renaissance in that area, or if the rest of the reconstituted team will struggle to catch up to his tempo.
I wasn’t in OKC, so I haven’t talked to Nelson about why Brandan Wright didn’t play in the final 17-plus minutes of the game. It appeared as though the decision stemmed from a couple of misplays: Wright was whistled for a defensive 3-second call at the 5:39 mark of the third that drew Nelson’s ire. And then on the ensuing possession, Wright was in the lane while Russell Westbrook went up for an offensive rebound and putback bucket.
Nelson was springing off the bench even before Westbrook’s shot cleared the net, calling on Biedrins to head to the scorer’s table.
The amusing aspect of the story: The Westbrook bucket was less the fault of Wright — who was fending off Jeff Green with his left hand while reaching for the ball with his right — and more that of Crawford, who whiffed entirely at boxing out Westbrook and thus set the whole play in motion.
Don’t forget the discount
Yes, it was a win, the Warriors’ first in 10 games and it’ll look just the same as their five previous victories when the standings get printed, but don’t forget about the quality of competition Golden State faced on Monday.
The defining play of the first half for the Thunder (and it was a tough field to choose from) came when Westbrook was bringing the ball upcourt against no pressure. He appeared to think momentarily of throwing a pass on the left wing and thus picked the ball up, but then changed his mind.
The only problem? He was still running downcourt as all this happened, which meant he couldn’t touch the ball again without incurring a traveling or double-dribble call. Crawford outraced Green to the ball at midcourt, gained possession and steamed in for a layup.
Fun with the +/- stat: Azubuike was plus-19 in 44:44, meaning the Warriors were minus-9 in the 3:16 that he rested. Crawford, on the other hand, was at even in 39:48 on the floor, meaning Golden State was plus-10 in the other 8:12. . . . How does Durant ever manage to get an open shot for the Thunder, given the lack of other viable options? I’m not saying you need to double him every time he touches the ball, but denying him the pass wouldn’t be a bad prescription. . . . After watching yet another last-minute inbounding snafu for the Warriors — this one leading to a turnover and a Thunder possession in which Durant bounced home a 3-pointer — I’ve come to a conclusion: Golden State needs to break new ground, roster-wise, and bring on a designated inbounds passer. Just think of it as the NBA’s equivalent to the NFL’s long snapper.
The Lineup Project
It looked like it would be a huge night for the Turiaf-Biedrins-3 wings combination after it demolished the Thunder’s second team with an 18-5 run to start the second quarter. But that group gave it almost all back with poor performances in the fourth period, and with Wright having been banished, Nelson went small for the final 3:01.
Lineup GS OPP Time
Large 0 0 0:00
Turiaf-Biedrins 38 37 20:38
Medium 56 49 22:41
Small 18 16 4:41
Without Monta. . .
Since the victory was expected, the Warriors remain on pace for a 7-19 record when Monta Ellis’ suspension is up. Here are the remaining five games in that stretch, with predictions from mid-November:
Dec. 10, vs. Milwaukee: SAFE WIN
Dec. 12, vs. Houston: LEAN LOSS
Dec. 13, at Denver: LEAN LOSS
Dec. 15, vs. Orlando: LEAN LOSS
Dec. 17, at Indiana: TOSSUP
11 Responses to “Thoughts on Game No. 21: Warriors 112, Thunder 102”
Why is Biedrins always the inbound passer? Shouldn’t the inbounds passer be someone who is more in tune with the art of passing, the team does have “point guards” afterall.
Weeda won by 30 with Jack.
Biedrins is the inbound passer because they dont want him to be intentionally fouled because of the poor free throw percentage. But Nelson still wants a big man in there for rebounding and maybe lowpost scoring or tipping. Therefore It makes him the de facto in bound passer. Although they might change that plan now.
I’d love to hear what Nelson says about Wright after he sees tape of the rebounding banishment. If he was, in fact, blocking out Green while reaching for the ball, does Nelli expect him to block out for his teammates and still get that rebound? I think Nelli still feels like BWright is the reason they don’t have JRich and is taking that misguided reasoning out on him. JRich was all heart and effort. BWright is much more laid back in his play and demeanor. Randolph’s style is more like JRich’ and he seems to be in Nelli’s favor more than his abilities (at this stage in his development) dictate,
Can we all chip in for airfare to send Crawford to a junior high basketball camp somewhere so he can learn to box out?
ajbry, the warriors would have at more than the 20+ turnovers they had with jax. send him and his awful contract somewhere, anywhere…
Ajbry: Let’s watch the sarcasm. With Jack in, the game slows down — and we’d almost certainly lose in the fourth quarter. Plus, Nelson couldn’t have banished Wright so (relatively) late in the game — when the team still lead by 15-20 because of HIS impact. No, We were lucky to be without Jack and (especially) Maggette yesterday. Another case of addition by subtraction. Too bad nelson’s still there, though.
Geoff, regarding your opening comment about (not) hoisting 3’s with plenty of time on the shot clock, one of the most troubling plays of the entire game for me was in that category. It occurred with about 6 1/2 minutes left in the 4th. Our 18-point lead to start the quarter had begun to evaporate, and Kevin Durant had just hit another 3, cutting our lead to 12. Momentum was clearly shifting. Jamal Crawford, our veteran presence on the floor at that point in time (who finished 1-5 from behind the arc for the game, btw), proceeds to bring the ball upcourt and immediately hoists a 3, which was not only ill-advised, but went ugly. As Fitz likes to say, it went “wide right”. Within the next minute, they cut our lead down to 8 (and Crawford turned it over twice).
Sj JIm how is that play troubling ? Crawford if we could finish around the basket wouldve had an easy double double and from the start was actually provding that veteran leadership.We were destroying them with the high screen and roll in the 3rd with Crawford and Biedrens .It wasnt Crawford who decided to go small and decided to run isolations in the 4th. That was all Don Nelson.I thought Crawford was terrific considering hes out there with a young team on the road and was able to to get us the win to break the streak.
Ray, you ask me how it’s troubling, and then you go on to describe other (positive) things that Crawford did. I’m not saying he didn’t have a decent game overall, but that play bothered me a lot. He’s a veteran, he should know better than to jack up a bad 3 like that (especially when he’d been cold from that distance) so early in the shot clock when we needed to stem the tide of O.C.’s run with crunch time approaching. We had just gone from being up 18 to being up only 12, and a minute after Crawford’s ill-advised shot it was down to 8. It was a bad play at a bad time from a veteran who should be leading by example. How is that not troubling? By the way, did you disagree with or not understand Lepper’s opening premise? Ball movement. Shot selection. Discipline…
Geoff- Thanks for giving the rest of the story on Wright’s missed rebound. I couldn’t watch the game, but over the last couple of years I have been continually frustrated by the Ws wing players acting like spectators when defensive rebounds come off. If you’re not releasing down the court put your body on someone in a defensive rebounding situation - is that so hard to teach or learn? The Ws bigs get more than their fair share of criticism because of this.
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TagsAcie Law Al Harrington Allen Iverson Andris Biedrins Anthony Morrow Anthony Randolph Baron Davis Brandan Wright C.J. Watson Chris Cohan Chris Hunter Chris Mullin Corey Maggette Dan Dickau DeMarcus Nelson Devean George Don Nelson Gilbert Arenas Jamal Crawford Jason Richardson Jeff Fried Jermareo Davidson Keith Smart Kelenna Azubuike Kevin Durant Kevin Garnett Kobe Bryant Larry Riley Marco Belinelli Marcus Williams Matt Barnes Mickael Pietrus Mikki Moore Monta Ellis Patrick O'Bryant Richard Hendrix Robert Rowell Rob Kurz Ronny Turiaf Stephen Curry Stephen Jackson Stephon Marbury Steve Nash Troy Murphy Vladimir Radmanovic
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