You’ve Been Served: Lakers 124 Warriors 118

An incredible, gutsy, inspiring effort from the newly reassembled Warriors kept them in this game right until the end.  Only a heroic performance from Kobe Bryant allowed the Lakers to prevail.

Are the Warriors a mess?  Is Don Nelson washed up?

Don’t believe it.  This game, on a road back-to-back, during the holidays, against the best team on the planet, has served notice on the league.  This Warriors team is primed to go on a run.  They’re talented, they’re hungry, and once again, finally…

they’re big.

Monta Ellis:  A little too gassed, the Lakers defense a little too tough, for him to take this game over.  The positive?  He recognized it, and played a beautiful team game.  7 assists/1 TO.

Corey Maggette: Carried the Warriors in this game. 25 points on 11 shots? That is unbelievably elite efficiency for a wing player. After years of being buried on the Clippers, he’s making his name under Don Nelson’s direction. A stud, and a winning basketball player.

Feel like booing?

Beans: Biedrins is currently a shadow of himself.  I’d like to see him start taking it to the hoop on the pick and roll, rather than flounder like a fish looking to pass it off.  It will come.

Still managed to grab 8 boards.  The Warriors lost the rebounding battle by only 4 to the Lakers.  HUGE.

Rony Turiaf: Incredible emotional leader of the defense in only his third game back.  His block on Kobe at the rim one for the ages.

But his rustiness shooting the ball, particularly at the free throw line (or was that a result of his conditioning?) hurt the Warriors down the stretch.  Once, when he bricked them both. And then, when he passed off from point blank range, for fear of getting fouled and going back to the line.

I learned something else about Rony tonight, from the Thaiblonde.  It was after that incredible CJ Watson out of bounds save and assist to Turiaf for the dunk, and went like this:

Me:  Great play!

Thaiblonde:  Turiaf needs smaller shorts.

Me:  Huh?

Thaiblonde:  His pants keep falling down.

Me:  Huh?

(rewind)

Me:  OMG.

Anthony Randolph: On a “per 36 minute” basis, averaged a quadruple double: 6 pts., 6 reb., 5 asts., 5 bs, in 19 minutes.  Say what?

Yet more proof that stats per 36 minutes lie?  Or is Randolph really that good?

I have an idea why Nellie sat him in the fourth.  He wanted Vlad Rad on Kobe. And then Maggette is his closer. And the Warriors were fighting from behind and needed shooters. And Randolph did get yanked earlier for failing to block out. And Phil Jackson went small. (I loved Jackson’s post-game comments. He told his inquisitors, “We forced them to match up small with us.” And barely cracked a smile saying it. Vintage Big Chief Triangle.)

But Randolph finally did enough to make me ask, why not more minutes? That’s a first of the season for me, and a sign that mini-KG is coming on.

Vlad Rad: That defense on Kobe? 11 points on 3-5? 5 rebounds?  Tantalizing.

That fastbreak layup he allowed to get blocked?  Enigmatic.

The Thaiblonde burst out of her blankets on that one: “You can’t be soft! You have to dunk that!”

To his credit, Vlad dunked the next one.

Stephen Curry: As predicted, Curry put the torch to Derek Fisher. But once again, he made a couple of silly, lazy passing turnovers in the third quarter, that helped change the momentum of the game. YANK!  For the third straight game, Curry spent the fourth quarter nailed to the bench. Don Nelson is sending the rook a message.  A STRONG message.

If his early season progress is any indication, there is little doubt that Curry will get that message. Soon.

Chocolate Rain: Aggressive, creative.  Made Sasha Vujacic pay for whacking him in the nuts.  Loved it.

CJ Watson: 14 points on 4-6, including 4-5 from three. 4 assists, 1 TO. 2 steals.  Handled the point at crunch time.

The best backup point guard in the NBA.

15 Responses to You’ve Been Served: Lakers 124 Warriors 118

  1. Incredible, Gutsy and Inspiring? Are you talking about the USA Victory over the Soviets in Lake Placid or Jimmy V’s speech at the ESPY’s?

    This was a game the W’s should have WON and they didn’t. They Outplayed the Lakers for three qtrs and then let Kobe go off. Kobe, without a doubt is the best player on the planet but the rest of his mates were playing terrible. Make somebody else beat you. I counted at least 4 times in the 4th where Kobe had wide open looks at the basket. No excuse for that. The W’s played great and Don Nelson Outcoached the “Zin Master” but there is no Moral victories in this one. The PLAYERS would tell you that, Felt.

    BTW, Turiaf’s Block on Kobe at the rim is arguably his best play of his Career. Hopefully they make Poster of that one for him. AWESOME!

  2. California Dreamin

    I am so conflicted about the Warriors after this one. On the one hand, I want to buy into the belief that DN has a plan and am even willing to acknowledge that on paper he has somehow put together a very impressive 12 man roster…the 9 man rotation he used last night, plus Azuibuke, Bell and Wright is deep, talented, young and athletic. I get it.

    But I can’t help but feel that Nelson just doesn’t appreciate what Randolph brings to the team. He just has to play, just has to. It is not just about the numbers he puts up, but to the fact that when he plays he makes his teammates better because of his ability to protect the rim.

    I am also getting a tad tired of being reminded that “he is 20 years old.” So what. If indeed, he has the ability to become a Top 10-15 player in this league, and I think his upside projects that possibility, then he needs to be allowed to play at crunch time in order to get better.

    Look, I understand Nelson’s desire to win every game he can, be it for the record or merely because he is competitive, but he also has a responsibility to the organization to leave something better when he leaves than he got when he came in. He has already failed in that area once [94-95] and my fear is that he will so alienate Randolph with his silly substitution patterns that AR will bolt just when he should be positioning himself to become the force of the organization for years to come.

    I am open to an argument that shows me this feeling is not logical.

  3. I agree, CD. The he’s only 20 yrs old excuse is getting old. You don’t get better and learn on the bench. Nelson wants his wins . He does not trust AR at the end of games. AR played with A Lot of energy and stayed within himself last night. Then never saw the court in the 4th. I just hope AR’s confidence isn’t shakened. He seems like he’s doing everything Nelson is asking of him

  4. CD: Unlike Webber, Randolph is locked up for 2 more years on his rookie contract, and a restricted free agent after that. So although keeping him happy would be nice, it is not high up on the priority list of any coach. See: Jerryd Bayless, Tyrus Thomas, etc. Not to mention Stephen Curry.

    Getting them to play the right way is at the top of the list. In Randolph’s first 10 minutes last night, he pulled 1 rebound. That’s not going to cut it, and Nellie let him hear it when he pulled him out, according to Jim Barnett.

    I’m pretty sure that when Randolph stops having teachable moments, and develops more consistency on his outside shot, he will get more time. Nellie needs his four man to be able to spread the floor. Right now Randolph is getting dared to shoot.

  5. BG, the Warriors basically triple-teamed Kobe in the fourth quarter last night. And they had no one for whom he was a natural cover. Nellie tried fronting him with Vlad Rad and Monta.

    It will help greatly when the Warriors get Buike and Bell back. Bell in particular is known as a Kobe-stopper.

    I disagree that this is a game the Warriors should have or could have won. I was incredulous that they played the Lakers so close. And I disagree that the fact that the Warriors even came to fight doesn’t mean something. In this league of selfish players and competing agendas, and endemic quitting on the road, it means a great deal. The Warriors are a team that likes each other, and believes in each other, and shows up every night. Exactly what that means is going to be made clear over the rest of this season.

  6. CURSE OF MULLIN

    CD, I totally agree. Your point, in particular, about Randolph making his teammates better by protecting the rim, is right on. It more than offsets his occasional bonehead mistake. Let him play in crunch time. Randolph’s development is the single most important issue to the Warriors’ improvement. Not playing him in crunch time is retarding that development AND possibly pissing him off enough to leave when he has the opportunity.

  7. California Dreamin

    feltbot…I have been a supporter of yours and still think that for the most part your analysis is spot on. But you seem to feel [and I am not sure I agree] that the Warriors walk around singing Kumbaya and rejoicing at the day they got to put Golden State on their uniform signatures. I wonder if it is not just the opposite.

    You mention how the Dubs will be better when Azuibuke and Bell come back while I am wondering if they are not both counting the days till they can leave. Remember, Bell is an unrestricted FA and I think Azu is also since he has the option to void his contract after the season. I recall his agent [the same agent who represents Watson] saying that if the Warriors forced Watson back to the team when it was clear he wanted to go to Orlando, they could kiss Buke good bye after this year. I have not heard a retraction since. I also doubt Watson will be back.

    I can’t help feeling, and I hope I am wrong, that many of the players just don’t like the way Nelson handles things and view playing for the Warriors as being in temporary incarceration. They can’t wait to leave.

    I am prepared to admit I am wrong if Azu and Bell stay, but I doubt they will. This is my fear with Randolph. I saw it with Keith Wilkes back in his third year with the Warriors. He made it clear that when the team had a chance to make him feel welcome and accepted they failed [those were his exact words] and now when he had the whip he would use it. Saw it with Bernard King, saw it with Chris Webber, and now I think we are seeing it again.

    If there as one thing that Chris Mullin got, it was that building a team is not just about accumulating names that sound good on paper, it is about making them feel like they are part of something worthwhile and sustainable. I submit for your approval that incorporating Randolph into the team’s long term plans [and to me this means more than yanking him simply because he makes 20 year old mistakes] is worth more than an occasional short term victory over the Lakers. And they lost anyhow!

    Look, again, I am not one of those silly Nelson haters who cannot find anything good to say about him. I was happy when he was rehired and genuinely give him credit for the playoff win over the Mavs.

    As you know I even defended him last year in his treatment of Randolph. I am having a harder time defending him this year. Randolph deserved more than 18 minutes last night and if he is not going to be rewarded for doing things to improve [he has] and doing things Nelsons Way [he is trying] then what motivation does he have to stay focused. We all look back on our lives at a a boss or teacher who just didn’t like us and was not going to change no matter what.

    I fear this is happening with Randolph and if it does, it is all Nelson’s fault in my mind. AR is talented, enthusiastic and spirited. All things the Warriors need on the court right now.

    feltbot, it is your job to convince me that my views are misplaced.

  8. And I take my job very seriously! :>

    CD, I don’t know about which players have plans to leave the Warriors, or want to leave. I do know that we have Buike locked up for two more years. [Can he really opt out after this knee injury? His agent was making typical agent noises. KA will control his own future, and its pretty clear that he would be a starter under Don Nelson.] And are we so certain that CJ won’t be resigned next year? He’s a pretty darn good player, and Nellie obviously loves him. The big thing with CJ is that he wants PT and wants a payday. He’s getting one, and the other is coming.

    As for AR, the Warriors have him completely locked up. And you have to believe that he knows he is getting run, under Don Nelson, that he wouldn’t get under any other coach. Point center? Freedom to jack up 20 footers? Leading the fast break? Can you imagine him trying to play for Larry Brown, or Pat Riley, or Phil Jackson in the triangle? Girlfriend, please.

    Randolph wants more PT. So does every other young big in the league. How much PT is Earl Clark getting? Javale McGee? The noises you hear coming from Randolph and his camp are completely standard. And they should dissipate long before his free agency, if the potential he’s showing is real. If he keeps growing, Nellie will play him.

    When I look at the Warriors team, I see of group of guys that obviously likes each other. And I see a group of guys that is playing extremely hard, every game. Under Don Nelson. This is by no means a common thing in the NBA. It means something.

    To me, it indicates that whatever the state of their personal relationship with Nellie, the players believe in him as a coach. They believe he knows how to win. And they believe they are going to win.

  9. California Dreamin

    felty…thanks for the reply, much appreciated. I think you are mistaken on Buke. He got a 3 year deal [this is the 2nd year] with the ability to opt out after the second season. His agent said he will do precisely that, though I fully acknowledge that, in the irony of ironies, his injury may make this less likely.

    I think Watson is gone, though I know Nelson does like him. If you get the chance, check my facts on Buke, I suspect I have it correct.

    Again, thanks for the response.

  10. I would enjoy your posts so much more if you weren’t given to such hyperbole.Not sure that you need all that swagger to achieve your Apologetics… Reminiscent of what was said of Polonius,”your manner is much too broad to bear”.
    I for one would be better served if your journalistic style were more objective.Your player evals are pretty accurate,but Nellie’s,SHHHEEEESH!

  11. I’m not sure what level of hating don Nelson would be acceptable to you. But i’m pretty sure I’m best served communicating my own feelings and letting you make of them what you will.

  12. Turiaf returns and the Warriors defeat Phoenix and Boston and have the lead against the Lakers ON THE ROAD with 2 minutes left. I guess it makes sense to blame Nelson for the team sucking, doesn’t it? Playing with a legitimate center and then playing well has to be coincidental, doesn’t it?

  13. CD, this is what I found on KA’s contract and the Watson imbroglio.

    http://basketball.realgm.com/src_wiretap_archives/60998/20090805/watson_situation_could_determine_azubuikes_fate/

    If there were a betting line, I would like to get something down on KA not opting out. As for CJ, at this point in the season, do you still think he’s unhappy? I wonder.

  14. California Dreamin

    I think its 50-50 with Azuibuke because of his injury and I believe the Warriors have almost no chance to keep Watson. He will say all the right things about being grateful to the Warriors for giving him the opportunity to play in the NBA and for all the things he has learned, but unlike you, who rightfully thinks he is an outstanding #3 guard, I believe he views himself as a starter who will never crack the Warrior combo of Ellis and Curry.

    I hope I am wrong and that both come back but don’t think it will happen.

  15. I think he might be a decent starter, but you, me, CJ and his agent are apparently alone in that opinion. He didn’t get a single offer in a year in which Ramon Sessions was the preeminent free-agent point guard.

    Ramon Sessions.