Cheated: Nuggets 123 Warriors 122

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair.”     — Macbeth I,i.

Bill Spooner, Jason Phillips  and Mark Ayotte are the three refs that cheated the Warriors out of this win tonight.  If they are going to take it on their shoulders to change the outcome of an NBA game in the final seconds, then I think it’s only right that they get full credit.    

What happened at the end of this game was obvious to all that watched: With three seconds left, and the Warriors up 1, Corey Maggete fell to the floor to secure the game-sealing defensive rebound, and called timeout. The refs turned a blind eye to Maggette’s timeout call,  and a blind ear to the Warriors’ bench, who were also calling for it. On the ensuing jump ball, they gave George Karl an instantaneous timeout as soon as J.R. Smith touched the ball. And then, on a J.R. Smith desperation heave from 40 feet, Bill Spooner, Jason Phillips  and Mark Ayotte decided to call a phantom foul on Monta Ellis and award this game to the Denver Nuggets.

An abomination.  Unfortunately, a fact of life in the NBA.  What can you do? Nothing but make a record.

Before the repugnant ending, this was a pretty good basketball game. The Warriors overcame a lot of adversity to get in position for this win. Once again, they got next to nothing from their big men.  Biedrins and Turiaf got a combined 6 points and 7 rebounds.  Anthony Randolph was putrid on offense, and completely invisible on defense. The Warriors got outrebounded by 12, while giving up a ridiculous 19 offensive rebounds.

Once again the Warriors got next to nothing from their little three, Morrow, Watson and Vlad Rad. They got a combined 14 points on 6-16.

But the Warriors’ big three were magnificent.  Particularly Corey Maggette, who scored 38 points on 12-16, with 7 rebounds.  And Stephen Curry, who had the game of his young career: 26 points on 10-13, including an incredible 6-6 from three, and 6 assists against 2 turnovers.  Along with Monta Ellis, who contributed 32 and 6, the big three were responsible for close to 3/4 of the Warriors’ points.  They put the Warriors on their shoulders, and it looked like they were on the verge of putting this game away, until Bill Spooner, Jason Phillips and Mark Ayotte decided otherwise.

Monta Ellis: Monta is as good an athlete as exists in the world today.  He knew he could get to J.R. Smith’s shot, and he knew he had the body control to avoid fouling. That was the problem. Monta’s self-confidence gave a bad ref the opportunity to steal the game.

There is little question that Monta would have been better served by backing off.  There is no reason to challenge that closely a running 3 point shot 40 feet from the basket with no time left.  But I don’t feel it is completely fair to blame Monta for this play. Because he made the play.

Which is not to say I don’t find fault with Monta in this game.  I do. With less than a minute left, and the Warriors up 1 with possession, Don Nelson put the ball in Monta’s hands, and asked him to make a play. And once again, as has unfortunately been the case all season long in crunch-time, Monta came up short. He tried to split a double team, and lost the ball. Turiaf, who got his hands on the ball for a moment, was credited with the turnover, but it was Monta’s.

For me, this turnover spoiled what was otherwise a splendid performance. It was, I believe, Monta’s second of the fourth quarter, and another of the many crunch-time failures that he has suffered so far this season. At least at this stage of his development, Monta has not displayed the decision-making ability, nor the handle, that you would want from a crunch-time playmaker. Is he the player that the Warriors want to initiate their offense at the end of the game?  Don Nelson made a very interesting choice at the end of this game, that put that in question.

Stephen Curry: So many things were impressive about Curry’s performance in this game. The incredible shooting.  The beautiful cross-over to escape a double team, drive and left-handed behind-the-back dish to Maggette.  The great look up court to find Morrow cutting to the basket. The perfect lock and lob to Monta Ellis.  The great control with which he played, on both ends of the court. Only 3 fouls this game.

But nothing was as impressive as how Curry ran the Warriors’ team in crunch time.  After scoring 20 in the first half, Curry took all of 2 shots in the second half.  Both in crunch time.  Both exactly when the Warriors needed them.  And both 3 pointers. And he buried both of them. He also came up with a huge steal, and blocked a Joey Graham shot, for which he wasn’t credited.

And all of this came before he made the play of the game.

With 24 seconds left, after having seen Monta fail one too many times, Don Nelson decided to put the ball in his rookie’s hands.  For the first time this season, Stephen Curry had the responsibility for getting the Warriors a last shot. Curry caught the ball at the top of the key, and then drove right.  When he drew two defenders, he reversed direction with a live dribble, and looked for the open man.  It was Monta Ellis, on a dive cut.  Monta converted, and the Warriors took a 1 point lead with :15 seconds left.  It would have, and should have, been the game winner.

Stephen Curry demonstrated the kind of player he is in this game.  I have been making the argument all year long that he is as close to a reincarnation of Steve Nash as you could ever hope to see.  He is, in fact, right now, far far ahead of where Steve Nash was in his third NBA season. This kid is going to be one of the best point guards in the game.

And he just might be the player who should have the ball in his hands at the end of the game for the Warriors. Right now. As a rookie.

Corey Maggette: I’ve run out of superlatives in describing Maggette’s play as of late.  Let me just add this: in addition to carrying a huge scoring load, Maggette has been the Warriors best defensive big man this season.  He was the only Warriors player who was successful at keeping Kenyon Martin off the offensive boards.  And his huge defensive rebound with 3 seconds left secured the Warriors’ victory.  Isn’t that right, Bill Spooner?

Beans and Turiaf: They are just not there yet.  They are useful for keeping big men from dunking in the paint, but very little more. Nellie has voiced impatience with Biedrins’ play. I’m adding my voice.  The Warriors are desperate for him to show up.

Turiaf played the fourth quarter of this game, after suffering an ankle sprain. His heart is huge, but like Biedrins is merely a shadow of himself.  And now I fear he’ll once again be casting that shadow from the bench, at least for tomorrow’s game.

Anthony Randolph: Randolph has yet to show up in any of his starts at power forward.  He was miserable, once again, in this game.  Kenyon Martin ate him alive, both offensively, and on the offensive glass.  In his opening 8 minute stint, Randolph contributed 0 points, 2 TO’s, and only 1 defensive rebound. He managed a couple of rebounds against the Nuggets’ second unit in the second quarter, but only got one rebound in the second half. 5 total. That is just not getting it done, especially against an undersized Nuggets’ team.

Randolph was also very lazy with the ball, committing 5 TO’s.  After one particularly ugly turnover, Barnett commented that it looked like Randolph hadn’t completely woken up from his pre-game nap.

The bottom line: -6.

I’m going to start a new Anthony Randolph feature, for the edification of all of those in the media, and at home, that have been howling for Nellie to give Randolph more minutes.  I’m calling it:

The Play That Got Him Yanked.

Tonight’s play occurred near the end of the second half, and it immediately got Randolph yanked.  Do you remember what it was, home-gamers?

At 2:20 of the second quarter, Kenyon Martin was thrown an entry pass at the free throw line. Instead of playing good position defense, Randolph lunged for the steal.  He missed, and Martin ended up with an easy drive, drawing the fourth foul on Chris Hunter.  Nellie immediately replaced Randolph with Devean George.

Do you think this play, or any play of this sort, will ever get reported by the mainstream media? You can bet your bottom dollar that it won’t. Not ever. Doesn’t sell newspapers.

It will be reported here.

The Little Three: Once again, a major letdown.  And yet, the Warriors almost survived it.

Not sure why Vlad Rad got so little time in this game.  If I had to guess it would be this:  Denver Nuggets, 19 offensive rebounds.

CJ Watson has completely lost confidence in his shot.  Is it contagious?

Anthony Morrow is such a hopelessly poor defender that he has lost his job to a CJ Watson that can’t hit a shot.  That is the bottom line.  In the pre-season, I wrote that I didn’t believe that Anthony Morrow could ever be an NBA starter, due to his defensive deficiencies. Now, after the trades of Stephen Jackson and Marco Belinelli, the loss to injury of Kelenna Azubuike, and the desperation shift to power forward of Corey Maggette, Anthony Morrow has still failed to make himself the Warriors small forward. He is getting doused with kerosene and lit on fire every single game, in every conceivable matchup.

Will his offensive contributions ever be worth that?

15 Responses to Cheated: Nuggets 123 Warriors 122

  1. IQofaWarrior

    Good catch on the Randolph yank. I missed that play live because I was typing in my laptop at that moment.

  2. Fun game (besides the end). I was VERY impressed with Curry. Now I finally see that he is very capable of being a great PG. At first I didnt see the hype and was getting more and more frustrated with his offensive passiveness and those lazy one handed passes. Today he showed flashes at being something really special. Hopefully he builds on it.

  3. As far as that call. As a part time HS Ref myself. I found myself thinking that you have to have some HUGE balls to call that fould in the end. 95% of refs dont make that call unless there is something absolutely egregious.

    Part of me was thinking Monta should not have put himself in that position, but then again JR is very capable of making that shot. You have to contest it. Tough break.

  4. So what did AR’s stat line end up at against the rest of the bigs on the team? He pulled down the most REB out of all the bigs on the floor. Even more than your favorite Beans…

    All I’m saying is you want to go after AR for one missed rotation but what about Nellie for taking out his best rebounding big?

    I’m sorry but the kid should be getting between 25-28 minutes just so he can get into the flow of the game. I’m all for taking someone out for missing an assignment but then you gotta give them a chance to make up for it. The fact that nellie doesn’t do that is appalling oh and you did forget to mention that AR dig spark an run to get the dubs back from down 8 into the game with hustle & rebounding…But mentioning that wouldn’t really help your argument

  5. The yank of Randolph was even worse than that. Devean George took the court for the last 2 minutes and looked as lost as anyone I have ever seen. His inbounds pass under the Warriors basket that was stolen and laid in for the last Denver points of the half was the margin of victory for Denver. Not to dump on a guy covered in rust, but come on…

  6. As much as Monta was a stud for us like he has been, he tried to give that game away and successfully did by taking a swipe at the ball like that. Lazy pass, fumbling the ball, and taking 3 pointers in a way that he just can’t. In this game, Curry should have been bringing it up at the end. Curry also better start looking for his shot more when he is on flames like that. It was ridiculous to take no shots in the 3rd. As far as AR, he is up and down, it is what it is. At least he is not Morrow who just can’t hit a shot anymore.
    Devan George does not belong on an NBA team, and Vlad Rad is fading away. Don’t get me wrong another loss is good for the chance to get John Wall, but damn if any game was a highway robbery this one was…

  7. Randolph gives inconsistency a bad name. The idea that he should play more so he can improve his consistency (“get into the flow”) is one of the dumber ideas going. He should play better, then he can play more. It’s the only incentive program that will work with a 20-year-old.

    Great analysis, Felty.

  8. We can now confirm that Monta is not an All-Star for two reasons.

    1. An All-Star makes a much smarter play at the end on JR.
    2. An All-Star does get done over by a ref like that in the final seconds.

  9. oops… should have read

    2. An All-Star does *NOT* get done over by a ref like that in the final seconds.

  10. Have to agree Berko. Several times this year I have raised the question: Would the refs do that to Kobe?

    To think they would make a call like that against him borders on the ludicrous.

    Which is one way of measuring how bad a call it was. For whatever reason, the game was stolen.

  11. unfortunately for morrow, his offensive game is missing, so what does he have to offer? monta needs to go. with arenas getting voided soon, they’ll need another headcase. ship em…

  12. These losses are just beginning to pile up…Well there is always next year!!! YAY!!!Ohh wait, more of the same next year too, hmmm…YAY, BOOO? I don’t know what to do anymore…

  13. Pingback: Some areas of concern after a win – Warriors Wire - The Press Democrat - Santa Rosa, CA - Archive

  14. It was horrible officiating. How many calls a missed for incorrectly called in any game and any sport. Fact is, you can not control officiating.

    As a player and coach you have focus on the aspects of the game you can control. There is a long list of errors, check that, stupid unforced errors and missed shots. Those are things which can be controlled and are the reason they lost the game.

    Yes the those were bad calls. But at least they can blame the refs instead of owning up to the mistakes, errors and otherwise terrible level of play from half the team.

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