The Warriors lost their seventh game in a row last night, and are currently the third worst team in the league, by record. It is easy to get down as a Warriors fan watching this season play out, particularly when the Warriors don’t give much of an effort, as we saw in the Houston game. In this game, however, with the return from injury of Corey Maggette, and the return to dominance of Monta Ellis, we saw the return of the heart and effort that has characterized the Warriors’ play in this most tragic and difficult of seasons. As a fan, I can derive enjoyment from that, even if the result is a loss.
The core of this team, as currently contructed, is Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, Corey Maggette, Andris Biedrins, Rony Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike. Is there a quitter in that bunch? Anyone who dogs it? It is not only the talent, but also the heart of this Warriors team that gives me hope for the future, and sustains me during this bleak period. I continue to believe that if Cohan and Rowell give Nellie room to operate, and this team ever returns to full strength, winning is around the corner.
It begins, of course with Monta Ellis.
Monta Ellis: The superstar returned in the last two games. And for all the current discouragement, a team that has a superstar is never very far from winning. As this game showed.
The Mavericks are currently third in the Western Conference. Simple question: What would the score of this game have been if the Warriors were playing with Anthony Randolph and Kelenna Azubuike, and Biedrins and Turiaf were healthy and playing like they did at the start of last year?
Whatever the poison-mongerers like Tim Kawakami and Adam Lauridsen keep writing, that’s how far the Warriors are from winning. In Dallas, against the three seed in the West. On a back-to-back. With a dead rookie.
Something to keep in mind.
Stephen Curry: If you’ve ever wanted to see what the rookie wall looks like, you’re looking at it. I’m guessing this was brought on by the spate of 48 minute complete games Curry played when Monta went out. Curry simply can’t feel his legs right now.
Take another look at the end of the game last night. Nellie brought Curry off the bench in the final seconds to practice getting a last second shot. Curry drove the lane and picked up the foul. But before he shot his free throws, he stood for a long time under the basket, bent over and grabbing his shorts. I was thinking, is he that tired after 3 seconds back on the court? Then it hit me: he can’t feel his legs. He’s looking at them like they’re impostors. Check it out.
Corey Maggette: Not one of Maggette’s best games, but what doesn’t show up in the boxscore is how hard he had to work for his shot. The Warriors showed none of the ball-movement that has created wide-open looks and layups for Maggette in the past. I thought that was the chief difference in Maggette’s game and Marion’s. Kidd repeatedly found Marion under the basket for easy lay-ins.
Devean George: His defense on Dirk Nowitzki was pretty impressive last night, and easily as important as Monta’s scoring in allowing the Warriors to creep back into this game. He held Nowitzki to two free throws in the third quarter. Nowitzki did come back to score 9 in crunch time, but George made him work for those shots, and also turned him over twice.
George has now shut out Carmelo Anthony in a fourth quarter in Denver, and Dirk Nowitzki in a third quarter in Dallas. On one leg. He is something on one leg that Marco Belinelli is not on two: a bonafide NBA player.
The Centers: It may be wishful thinking, but I think Biedrins is starting to look a little more like himself. It helped, of course, that the Mavericks played small ball all night, with Dampier out.
One unspoken casualty of his free-throw shooting has been the high pick and roll. The Warriors almost never run it, which I can only attribute to Biedrins’ fear of going to the line. That might also be the reason he always rolls the wrong way. This play should be a staple of the Warriors’ offense. I’ve been very disappointed to see it missing in action.
The Warriors started the game with a big line-up of Biedrins and Turiaf. The line-up worked about as well as could be expected, which is not at all. The Warriors out-rebounded the Mavs, but couldn’t put the ball in the hole. They wound up with 21 points for the quarter. I’m guessing that by using this line-up in the first quarter, Nellie was buying time for Devean George in the second half. He knew he couldn’t use Anthony Tolliver.
CJ Watson: With Curry missing in action, Nellie went to Watson down the stretch. It wasn’t one of his better games. He looked unsure down the stretch, failing to create open shots, and committing a couple of turnovers. The one big shot he should have taken, a momentarily open three with 1:54 left, he passed up, resulting in a Warriors’ loss of possession.
The D-League All-Stars: As Nellie would put it, they looked like D-Leaguers. There was no one on this Mavs team that Tolliver could guard. He works against the big dudes, not so much against the athletes. Nellie played him only in the second quarter. Coby Karl needs to hit threes to be effective. His drives remind me of Belinelli’s.