It’s been a long hard season, and Feltbot is worn down and needs an optimism IV. So how about a one-sentence recap: Chris Paul showed up, and the Warriors didn’t.
A mid-season back-to-back. Monta’s rustiness. Don Nelson’s game plan. Corey Maggette’s disgruntlement. Pick a reason, any reason. The fact of the matter is that the Warriors gave very little effort in this game. Don Nelson didn’t make too much of it, and neither will I. The woefully undermanned Warriors have played their hearts out this season for very little reward. They deserve a pass on an off-game. Let’s hope it doesn’t continue.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this game says something about the New Orleans Hornets. It doesn’t. They are a very mediocre team, going nowhere. They happen to have one completely transcendant basketball player, Chris Paul, who at 6-0 175 lbs. might be one of the top 5 players in the league. He has put the Hornets on his back, just like Lebron James has put a very mediocre supporting cast on his back the last few years. Lebron has enough to make a run in the playoffs; Paul will not get out of the first round, if indeed he makes it that far.
Don Nelson: Nellie made himself a major player in this game by choosing to go small from the start, with Maggette at the four and CJ Watson at the three. He stated post-game that he thought that strategy gave the Warriors the best chance to win. But for whatever reason, his player’s didn’t buy into it.
I pride myself on calling things like I see them. I’m a Don Nelson fan, but in this game he was out of tune with his unit. The small-ball Warriors just didn’t have the energy or the will to compete in the paint.
Corey Maggette: I’m giving him pride of place among players, because he was the chief dog in this game. Whether out of fatigue, frustration with Nellie’s game plan, or lingering annoyance with Nellie from the previous game, Maggette simply did not show up to play defense or rebound.
Monta Ellis: Played the distributor beautifully to start the game, picking up 6 assists in the first quarter. Unfortunately, it seemed to take him out of his game. He never tried to take the reins of this game. Did the game plan slow Monta down, or did a slowed-down Monta require this game plan? Nellie attributed Monta’s poor game to rust. Let’s hope that’s the case.
Stephen Curry: Curry looked like he was running in mud, and not all of it was due to Chris Paul. Back-to-backs have proved very tough for Curry in his rookie season.
After the Sacramento game, I thought to myself that Stephen Curry might be the most cerebral player to enter the league since Magic and Bird. I was forgetting one player: Chris Paul. What he does on the court has very little to do with athletic talent. It’s about intelligence. He is amazing to watch.
CJ Watson: Helped by being left wide open by Stojakovich and West due to Nellie’s small ball tactics, Watson’s dead-eye returned. It’s another irony in a season full of them that this performance occurred in this game. There have been at least 5 games this season which the Warriors might have won if Watson had been able to hit a shot.
The Centers: Once again their combined line didn’t look too bad, but the fact remains that Beans and Turiaf are making very little impact. Emeka Okafor is not this good. Randolph did a much better job on him in the previous game.
The D-League All-Stars: Perhaps relieved of the pressure of starting, perhaps helped by stepping in a few feet, Tolliver got his jumper to fall in this game. And then he actually hit a 3, his third in 24 attempts. Unorthodox style or not, I think it’s clear Tolliver can hit shots. He just needs to get his confidence and his rhythmn.
Martin had a poor game. It’s clear that Nellie wants him to be aggressive on offense. But games like this may indicate that his game isn’t up to it.
Vlad Rad: Who?