No Lightning: Thunder 112 Warriors 104

This game highlighted a lot of the things that the Warriors are currently lacking. The Warriors lack, quite obviously, a long wing defender who could have been used to guard Kevin Durant.  No Stephen Jackson, no Kelenna Azubuike, not even a Cartier Martin.  Durant went for an effortless 45 and 11. The Warriors lack, at least at the moment, a starting center who can rebound and defend the paint.  The Thunder out-rebounded the Warriors by 14, and Russell Westbrook went to the line for 17 free throws, making 14 on the way to a 28 point 8 assist performance.  The Warriors lack a power forward who is capable of matching up against the Jeff Greens of the league.  Like, perhaps, Anthony Randolph.  The Warriors were forced to give Anthony Tolliver help on Green, which exacerbated their problems on the boards.

And the Warriors lack Monta Ellis, superstar.  Monta is back, but he has not been the star of any of the three games he has played since his return.

Monta Ellis: It was a theme of mine earlier this season, while Monta was struggling to get into game shape, that the Warriors as presently constructed cannot win unless Monta is the best player on the floor.  On this night, he was very far from the best player.  His mid-range jumpshot was flat and short, and he seemed a step slow.  His handle was uncertain, and he had a tough time creating for his teammates. 2 assists against 5 TO’s.  In short, Monta looks a lot like he looked to start the season.  Either he’s rusty, or his surgically repaired left ankle, errr… his sprained right foot, is still bothering him.

He also got his fingerroll blocked twice from behind. Perhaps he needs to either start dunking those, or take a page from his below-the-rim rookie teammate and finish them off glass with the rim for protection?  Just a thought from a guy who’s always played below the rim.  Way, way below.

He nearly redeemed his game with two big crunch-time threes.  But I think he made a bad decision with 1:00 left and the Warriors down three.  On the fast break, he had an open three to tie, but he also had a wide open CJ Watson 12 feet from the hoop.  A pass to CJ there sets up a layup for either CJ or himself on the give and go.

Corey Maggette: Looked more like himself in this game, with an efficient 26 points on 14 shots.  He also assisted nicely in the first half.  Unable to guard Durant, and perhaps unwilling to guard Green, Maggette was matched up for the most part on Sefolosha and Harden.  The problem with that was that the Warriors’ missed his presence on the boards.

Stephen Curry: Had a very poor game.  Like Monta he was turnover prone against the quick defense of Westbrook and the Thunder team.  His legs also seemed to desert him in this game.  He had a tough time keeping Westbrook out of the lane and off the boards.  But a lot of that had to do with the fact that Nellie used him to give help on Durant and Green, and Biedrins was ineffective. In the second half, Curry came up short on most of his shots, going 1 for 5.

Nellie pulled him down the stretch, going with CJ Watson and Coby Karl.  Matt Steinmetz tried to make a stink about that post-game, which is his predilection. I think it was simply a case of going with the hot hands over a rookie who was out of gas and struggling.

The Centers: Turiaf was very good in this game, tying his season-high for points with 8 in the first half, and pulling 8 boards.  Biedrins was another story, once again failing to show up to start the game. He had 0 rebounds in 9 first half minutes. He started the third quarter just as poorly, getting a quick hook from Nellie after getting beat down court and giving up a silly foul. He finally began to play in the fourth quarter, helping to trigger a last-gasp Warriors run with his defense.

But it’s clear that Biedrins is still a long, long way from the player he was at the start of last season.  Stamina issues, rust, or continued injury are slowing him considerably.

The Little Three: CJ Watson played a very solid game.  Its nice to see him start to hit his open shots again.  He also finished some tough layups, which is uncharacteristic.  Progress or anomaly?

Vlad Rad is completely lost in space.  Nellie went to him in desperation in the second half. After a particularly Vlad Radian turnover, dribbling into a half-court trap, followed by an airballed 15 footer, he got the quick yank. That’s three games in a row in which the inactive Anthony Morrow has outplayed Vlad Rad.

The D-League All-Stars: Anthony Tolliver didn’t make much of an impact in this game.  We’re beginning to get a picture of what he can and can’t do. With his sound defensive fundamentals and strong body, he is quite effective against bigger players.  But he will struggle against the quicker and more athletic power forwards in the league.  Jeff Green made him look slow, as will Carl Landry in the next game, I’m guessing. His poor rebounding totals (3) weren’t all his fault. Green is a stretch four, and pulled him out of the paint.

On offense, Tolliver is turning into an interesting player. Nellie is starting to use him in the high post, and he has proved to have nice vision and a nice passing ability. He had three assists feeding slashers to the basket.

Sadly, Cartier Martin is no longer with the Warriors, resuming his lonely exile in the D-League.  The Warriors are not allowed by rule to sign him to another 10 day contract, and don’t have the roster flexibility to sign him for the season. They could have really used his defense on Durant in this game.

His D-League replacement, Coby Karl, had a nice game in his place, though. Karl is a player with a terrific basketball IQ.  He moved the ball quickly, decisively and beautifully. So well in fact, that Nellie was comfortable letting him run the team down the stretch in place of the struggling Stephen Curry.

Karl’s problem, of course, is a pronounced lack of athleticism.  Which is why the crafty Don Nelson will be playing him at small forward, rather than his natural position of point guard. He appears to be a smart and decent defender on bigger players, although naturally Durant dipped him in cheese and ate him like fondue.

6 points, 6 assists, 6 fouls.  The mark of the Karl?

6 Responses to No Lightning: Thunder 112 Warriors 104

  1. But give Nelson some credit for some creative coaching. . . .

  2. I thought I would try something different for once. I decided to not watch the first half. What is the point anyways? So here I was stuck watching the 3rd and de ja vu…no adjustment, just crap. The only thing meaningful was Coby Karl and his penetration and ability to dish. This is how a PG is supposed to play and I hope Curry can watch some film and take some notes. Yes I like Curry and I still have my hopes on his shoulders but in 1 game, Karl showed me a better ability to penetrate than Curry. I can’t stress this enough, but the Monta Curry backcourt cannot and will not work. I know it is not entirely there fault, but you really can’t have two skinny dudes defending the better guards in the league…and I dont even consider Russel Westbrook that good and look what he did. Seriously what happens if the W’s win the lotto, you HAVE to take John Wall and Monta will have to go. I’m ok with this season being a waste, because well it just is, but let us do something about the future…I’m sick of Larry Riley’s empty promises. PS the Jackson for Vlad Rad just shows how pathetic the ability of management it. GO W’s but damn, it is getting seriously hard to watch the games.

  3. This is weird, being a ‘D’ league showcase team. Coby Karl looked good, better than expected, as has Tolliver and both Martin and Hunter looked at times like they could contribute at this level.

    But standing back, it is hard to believe that ANY team could win ANY game with 2 or three ‘D’ leaguers in the rotation. Maybe this team is destined (doomed) for a top 4 pick no matter what.

    On an aside, I notice 6’10″ Mareese Speights is languishing on the bench in Philadelphia. Any chance the ‘W’s have noticed and are working the phones?

  4. I meant to add–

    Good post, Feltbot. Again you explained things I didn’t see, especially on defense.

    I know we’re all tired of this, but it is still somewhat interesting that in spite of all the shortcomings you list, they still got close. What I remember most the third quarter are a half dozen really bad turnovers that led to a dozen quick points. If the team just executes well for four quarters—

    Team identity problems?

  5. FriendlyMisanthrope

    Disgruntled Broadside:

    Surely this season there been at the very least an indirect relationship between W’s players playing out position and getting hurt so much. The problem: Nelson would rather lose his way, going small, than availing himself of the talent we have, namely a team that led the league in blocked shots last year. Thus, he should have gone big this year: play at once AB, Turiaf, AND Randolph (who’s really a small forward, a taller Tayshaun Prince, but with Lamar Odom ballhandling skills), let shot blocks and their threat generate fast breaks, and model the team after the albeit more talented Denver Nuggests team of three years ago with Camby & Andre Miller. Having established that you can take out or slow down the other team from what the opposition wants to do, THEN bring in your little guys and go nuts, change the tempo, play small ball.

    Nothing revealed the holes in Nelson’s model then the Dubs’ losses to the woeful but talented Worst Teams in the league last year: Memphis, Oak City, Minnesota. Wanna play non-structured ball? Wanna play small? They love it–because they can out-athlete you.

    Don Nelson=castles in the air. It’s all about his “creativity”, his reputation as an “innovator.”

  6. CURSE OF MULLIN

    Scott Brooks, quoted in the Chron, said all it took to win this game was for the Thunder to play 8 or 9 minutes of real defense in the 3rd Q. That gave them a sufficient cushion to win the game. I think he is exactly right. Until we have players and coaches who play and demand good defense and rebounding, we aren’t going anywhere. We only have a problem in the 3rd Q bc we’re not very good and that’s when most good teams turn up the heat. Nellie’s defense is looking more PJ than Scott Brooks.

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