There are so many positive story lines to this victory I don’t know where to begin.
I’ll start with the most important: How many times in your life have you seen an NBA team go with a lineup of a center and four point guards? At the start of the fourth quarter, the Warriors stepped out with Anthony Randolph, Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and… Acie Law and CJ Watson. And dominated the garbage time. Thank you, Don Nelson.
You see, that’s one of the things I love about Don Nelson. Something all those anhedonic haters out there will never get. If you let him, he will entertain you. He will make you laugh. He’s crazy!
And if you get him a halfway decent roster, he will also find a way to win. A roster like the scrappy band of NBA rejects and D-leaguers that he turned into a killing machine and led to the greatest upset victory in NBA history 3 short years ago. I have never gotten more enjoyment watching basketball than I got watching Nellie dismantle the Mavericks, and turn the Squeaky General and Mark Cuban into quivering cubes of outraged jello. Nellie made me laugh.
Let’s see, anything else worth mentioning?
Oh yes, there’s this: It was the Minnesota Timberwolves. Perhaps the worst basketball team that has ever been, or ever could be, put together. There is not a single player on this team I would take on the Warriors besides Al Jefferson. And maybe not even him, because in Nellie’s system, Jefferson could only play center, and I’ll take the defense, shot-blocking and running ability of Biedrins and Turiaf for this system, thank you very much.
The Wolves also happen to be the only team in the NBA that is smaller than the Warriors. Jefferson is a banger, but he’s playing out of position at center. And Ryan Gomes, at 6-7″, is not exactly imposing at power forward. They were unable to punish the Warriors depleted front line.
So this game was a gift. Something that came along at the perfect time for this maimed, dispirited, and if you believe the gossip-mongers, fractured Warriors squad. It was wonderful to watch the sharing disposition, the beautiful ball movement, and then the smiles and laughter on the bench of this Warriors team. It was a gift. Thank you, Kevin McHale and David Kahn.
Hard times are about to continue, in the form a long road trip without Biedrins and Turiaf. But we’ll take this gift in the spirit in which it was offered, and look at all the positives as they were demonstrated up and down the Warriors roster:
Monta: I’ve been hard on Monta, but he played a beautiful game tonight. Does he really have his old quickness back, or was this simply the Minnesota Timberwolves? I’ll let you answer that for yourselves. And I won’t make mention of his elevation. Oh, hell.
Monta came to play tonight. He played great defense, starting several fastbreaks with steals. He scrambled for 10 rebounds. On offense, he made several nice drives. And he hit a couple of jumpers. Nellie opened the game with a catch and shoot play for Monta, to get him started. It worked. He only picked up 3 assists, but that doesn’t reflect the way he was looking for his teammates.
Private Jackson: Contentious film session? Shouting match with the coach in Nellie’s pickup? Something or somebody got in Jackson’s ear this game because Point-Jackson has never looked so good. Jack turned down his shot all night long in favor of finding his open teammates. The result, an incredible 15 assists against 3 TO’s. One big difference I noted in his isolation game was quickly passing to the open teammate before the double team closed on him. A fantastic adjustment, long may it last.
And his defense was vintage. Ryan Gomes has been torturing the likes of Al Harrington and Brandan Wright for years. Power forward Jackson just flat shut him down, while also giving help all over the floor. 6 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocked shots.
This is a player who has quit? There is still one Warriors fan who loves Private Jackson, no matter what comes out of his or his agent’s mouth.
Kelenna Azubuike: I loved typing every letter. Buike was on fire tonight, largely because the Warriors continually found the extra pass, and he was the open man. How many times have the Warriors hit their first three point attempt of the game this season? I think Buike’s was the first, and when it hit the net I somehow knew immediately everything was going to be all right. Buike proved tonight he belongs in the starting lineup. Can we get the guy a nickname?
Stephen Curry: Curry continues to look lost in the starting lineup. Why is this a positive? Because there are signs that his role as a starter may soon be coming to an end. Anthony Morrow started for him in the second half. It’s not exactly Feltbot’s Prescription, but its getting closer. Perhaps, if Stephen Jackson is still around when Biedrins and Turiaf return, we’ll get a look at the real, killer Warriors lineup.
I believe Curry’s struggles are strictly due to his role playing alongside Monta Ellis. He could struggle for 20 games in a row, and I would still take him over Jonny Flynn in a heartbeat.
Acie Law: There was a real Acie Law sighting tonight. I don’t know if he was playing small forward or power forward in the four point guard lineup, but he was guarding some pretty big dudes. And he kicked some ass. This is one tough little guy. He can D-up, he can push the ball up the floor, he can beat his man off the dribble, and he can find his teammates. If he could shoot like CJ Watson, he’d be a starter. If Jackson gets traded, you can expect Nellie to find a role for Mr. Law.
And now, let’s end on the real positive story line of the night:
Mr. Anthony Randolph: The Wolves have a backup center who looks like Daryl Dawkins’ baby brother. Whatever his name is, he was born to be pwned by Anthony Randolph. Randolph had his best game of the season, beginning with getting his first rebound within 5 seconds of entering the game. He never looked out of control. And Nellie ran several different plays for him, to show him reasonable ways in which he can get his offense. Most were pick and rolls for dunks. But my favorite was a give and go statue of liberty hand-off with Curry that resulted in a running bank-shot. That shot actually looked like it could become a go-to move!
Randolph also hit several short jumpers, all under control, all within the offense. And he looked like he knew the plays, and he looked for and found his open teammates. With :08 left on the clock in a 40 point blowout, Randolph found a seam, drove the lane, and… found an open Stephen Curry in the corner.
Thank you, Don Nelson.