» Blog Archive » Game 26 (Wizards 118, Warriors 109), The Wrapup: Smallball Strikes Again
  • Dec

    Game 26 (Wizards 118, Warriors 109), The Wrapup: Smallball Strikes Again

    By Geoff Lepper

    Don Nelson focused his (quite brief) post-game comments after Washington’s 118-109 win Friday night on how the Warriors couldn’t stop Gilbert Arenas, but frankly, as his own team has proven, one player often can’t win by himself, regardless of how good he is individually.

    Case in point, obviously: Monta Ellis has quite simply played his ass off since Stephen Jackson left, and the Warriors have nothing left to show for it expect for fourth-place status in the John Wall Sweepstakes.

    Did Arenas close out the game, scoring 10 of the Wizards’ 14 points in the final 5:13? Sure he did. But all Washington did in the fourth quarter was nurse home the seven-point lead they had brought into that period. And that lead was built on the back of Caron Butler straight-up abusing the smaller, weaker defenders Nelson kept throwing at him in an orgy of smallball fun.

    Butler had 10 points in the third quarter, and here’s a quick recap of how they shook out:

    ** 7:37, Caron Butler makes driving layup, WAS 64-GSW 65: Butler posts up Monta Ellis in the left block. When Anthony Morrow digs down from the free-throw line, Butler bounces it top-key to Arenas, who fires the rhythm 3. The shot is long and caroms to Antawn Jamison, who feeds to Butler top-key. Butler drives on Ellis, spins into the lane when Ellis tries to loop around to the outside for a steal and hits with his right hand over Corey Maggette on the help.

    ** 7:07, Caron Butler makes 10-foot two point shot (Gilbert Arenas assists), WAS 66-GSW 65: Simplicity itself: Arenas feeds straight down the pipe to Butler, who has Morrow posted up on the right block. Butler backs down into the lane, bumps off Morrow to create space, hits the wide-open fadeaway.

    ** 5:52, Caron Butler makes 16-foot two point shot (Antawn Jamison assists), WAS 71-GSW 67: Jamison feeds Butler on the left-wing repost. Butler pivots to face up, puts his head down, swings the ball under his chin and comes up firing over Morrow, who offers no closeout at all, only a token hand wave as the swish lands.

    ** 5:26, Caron Butler makes 19-foot two point shot (Gilbert Arenas assists), WAS 73, GSW 67: After an Anthony Randolph turnover stops play, Morrow is pulled (good move, Don), in favor of the even more overmatched C.J. Watson (bad move, Don). Butler immediately goes to work on the left wing. Watson gets more of a hand in Butler’s face, but he once again nails a shot off the too-simple entry.

    ** 2:27, Caron Butler makes 1-foot two point shot, WAS 83, GSW 78: Butler, stationed on the weak-side baseline, simply reaches over Watson to snag the offensive rebound of Jamison’s missed 3 and feeds it back to the hoop.

    On a night where Vlad Radmanovic rediscovered his shot — or at least seemed to, based on the limited results (2-3 FG, with a make on his lone J) — and Morrow showed that his was still very much MIA (2-8 FG, 1-4 3FG), it was just unconscionable that Nelson didn’t at least attempt to use a conventional lineup, with Radmanovic at the 4, Randolph at the 5 and Maggette sliding down to the 3 to throw some actual size at Butler. There’s no way to know if it would have worked, unfortunately, but we know what didn’t work: Letting Butler have his every whim during a third quarter that, once again, decided a Warriors loss.

    Other observations as the Warriors fell to 7-19:

    ** If somebody asked him about it, I didn’t see it, but I would love to know Corey Maggette’s rationale behind his contested 13-footer with 1:52 left in the fourth quarter, the Warriors down six points and, most importantly, 16 SECONDS LEFT ON THE SHOT CLOCK.

    I have no problem giving Maggette the ball in that situation: He had been the Warriors’ most efficient scorer of the evening (6-10 FG, 11-12 FT). But when Maggette got stood up in the post by Jamison, why didn’t he feed the ball out to Randolph as a top-key safety valve? The play obviously was meant to get the ball back to Monta, but he was unable to free himself, and the Warriors needed to kick it back outside and reset, instead of hoisting with three stationary teammates spaced along the perimeter (offering no rebounding help, mere spectators as Maggette fired).

    ** Morrow just looks completely out of sorts right now. Obviously, the Warriors’ lack of any hint of post game allows opponents to play tighter on the perimeter to begin with, and Morrow’s singular talent makes him a target for even more scrutiny from defenders. But other than just magically starting to hit contested shots, I don’t know the path Morrow should be following. Does he need some help from screens, a la Rip Hamilton? OK, but the Warriors in general set terrible screens. Arguably their best guy at that job (Mikki Moore) will be out three months after surgery on his right heel.

5 Responses to “Game 26 (Wizards 118, Warriors 109), The Wrapup: Smallball Strikes Again”

  1. Nice to see more people calling out smallball for the loser of a strategy that it currently is. Good recap.

    Only quibble: why is Corey Maggette still your whipping boy? I didn’t like that jumper either, but it was one of literally twenty that we took with no available rebounders on the night, and it was one of the only ill-advised shots Maggette’s taken in over a week. What Maggette does is not pretty, but it is effective, and of late it has been brilliantly effective.

    If you want to call out the guy who’s killing us with ill-advised offensive decisions, you’re not looking for number 50… you’re looking for number 8. Monta is indeed “playing his ass off” in terms of effort, but he’s not playing very intelligently or effectively… all these forced shots and turnovers are just killing us. And while I’m never really excited to see Maggette shoot from the outside, *Monta’s FG% on jumpers is worse than Maggette’s is.* Maggette is playing circles around Monta right now, and I wish more people would give him credit for it, no matter how ugly his occasional bricks are.

  2. Ellis’s new hero is Maggette since Jacko got traded.
    And Cory is all about his stats, his shots, his numbers….why wouldn’t Ellis follow suit. Ellis just wants to be in the top 5 in scoring, team be damned.

  3. Good call on the W’s setting terrible screens, I’ve been noticing that since at least last year. They will have a guy kind of lazily roll in front of someone on his way through, but no one ever just plants himself square in front of a guard with elbows out to give him an easy, open shot. Especially Morrow, why can’t they do this for Morrow? More horrendous lack of fundamentals that is this team’s trademark.

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