Tap Out: Lakers 107 Warriors 83

A game like this doesn’t deserve a full recap.  I’ll keep my remarks to a pointed minimum:

One game after heaping praise on Keith Smart, I’m going to take some back. First the disclaimer:  There is not a team in the league that should be able to beat these Lakers except the Miami Heat.  Once they picked up Matt Barnes and Steve Blake, their last remaining weaknesses disappeared. It is unfair how great they are.  The Warriors as presently constituted should NEVER beat them.

That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to beat them.  And I’m sorry, but Keith Smart did not try to beat them, not in the way that Don Nelson would have.  I’m not saying that a Don Nelson team has never been blown out.  What I’m saying is that Don Nelson never laid down for anyone. Don Nelson always gave his team a chance to win.

Just as there is only one way to win a war that is unwinnable, there is only one way to win a basketball game that is unwinnable.  Unconventionally. Keith Smart failed to give his team a plan to beat the Lakers, and that is why you saw them quickly get dispirited when their shots weren’t falling, and that is why you saw them simply quit. Whatever else you might say about them, Don Nelson teams never quit. Even down to a 5 man roster, they believed. Why? Because they knew their coach and leader had given them a plan to win.

This Warriors offense got everything they wanted in the Clippers game. It was quickly apparent that they would get nothing they wanted in this game. But Keith Smart failed to adjust, failed to do what Nellie would have done: simplify. The Warriors had one, and only one, matchup that they dominated in this game.  Reggie Williams against Derek Fisher and Steve Blake.  Yes, Reggie struggled coming out of the gate.  So what?  Don Nelson would have iso-ed him play after play, pick and roll after pick and roll. Don Nelson would have demanded that Reggie Williams take over the game.  He would have demanded that Reggie Williams get up 20 shots.  He would have given Reggie Williams the belief that the game rested on his shoulders. He would have given Reggie Williams the green light.

And under those circumstances, great scorers — which Reggie Williams is — have responded for Nellie.  Game after game. Year after year. Decade after decade. The ball in the hand. The demand to be aggressive. The green light. It works.

But whether it worked or not last night, one thing you would not have seen is Reggie Williams put his head down and quit. He would have played 40 minutes, and played hard.

What else would Nellie have done?  Well, what besides Monta Ellis and Reggie Williams against Fisher is the best weapon on this team without Stephen Curry? David Lee in the pick and roll.  Go back and watch the first quarter, if you have the stomach for it.  Did the Warriors run even one pick and roll for David Lee? Did the Warriors even once go to what is their most unguardable play?  They did not.

Keith Smart believes very strongly in getting Andris Biedrins going at the start of the game by running some post-up plays for him.  But he apparently doesn’t believe at all in getting his best offensive big man going. Curious. The Warriors paid the price for that in this game. David Lee also put his head down and quit.

What else would Nellie have done?  We all know the answer to this.  He would have scrambled the game, trying to take the Lakers out of their comfort zone, looking for something that worked.  In the common parlance, he would have gone small.  David Lee at center guarding Pau Gasol. Vlad Rad, Dorell Wright and Rodney Carney at power forward against Lamar Odom.  Yes the Lakers would have a dominant inside edge and a dominant rebounding edge.  But the Warriors would have the edge in speed, and in spreading the floor.

It wouldn’t have worked.  Not against Captain Matt Barnes and Steve Blake. But it would have been a try.  It would have been a plan, that if nothing else, would have given the Warriors team the belief that they could compete.  And then, if the last three years are any guide, they would have competed.

Keith Smart did not try. For whatever reason.  Perhaps a belief, common among inferior coaches, that systems should never be altered to circumstance. Or perhaps a fear of being labeled a Nellie acolyte, and of losing his job.  For whatever reason, he didn’t try.

Keith Smart tapped out.

10 Responses to Tap Out: Lakers 107 Warriors 83

  1. Felt, there are a few ways you can look at last night’s game, including with both hands planted firmly over both eyes, but given the Warriors lack of desire to compete for rebounds and their putrid shooting display, this game was over before Jack N. ever settled into his courtside seats.

    Sure, the Lakers are long but rebounding has never been about size. Rodman was one of the great all time rebounders and was how big? Larry Smith? No, rebounding is a state of mind. It’s a dirty game that you have to WANT to play. And last night the Warriors’ mental toughness, with Lee leading the way in that regard, was MIA.

    If you don’t shoot the ball well against LA you’re doomed from the start, and GSW couldn’t hit the ocean last night. And they had enough decent looks, but their shooting depth from recent teams is no more. Unfortunately, Reggie Williams shooting skills, even going back to the end of last season, is reminding me more and more of Jason Richardson. Hot streaks at times, but mostly needs a lot of shots to tally impactful numbers. I like Williams, but “great scorer”? Sorry, not for my money.

    Hey, the Warriors have played 3 whole games. Hardly a meaningful sample size, and the Lakers can make any and most teams look highly inefficient on a nightly basis. But even without Curry against a superior opponent I was disappointed in last night’s game, and my disappointment had very little to do with Smart’s coaching. Saying a team or players “quit” is very subjective analysis, and I don’t believe that was the case last night. IMO, lacking mental toughness and quitting are two different things. I DO believe if you want to beat the “big boys” in this league, especially on the road, you’d better come ready to fight it out in the ring. Last night the Warriors showed up without their boxing gloves.

  2. Steve, last year under Don Nelson RWilliams averaged 15 points a game as a third or fourth option, shooting 50%.

    50%. If you don’t think he’s a gifted scorer, then show me a few other 2 guards in the league with that kind of ability. He is also a 36% shooter from 3 in his short career.

    This year under Keith Smart, Williams is averaging 6 points on 39% shooting.

    With all due respect, I think you should take your analysis a little deeper.

  3. 2-6 for Reggie. I have to agree. The team is going to have to score to win in many games, and they might as well develop the talents they have. They’ll need Reggie later.

  4. When I saw Lin playing as early as he did, I took at as Smart’s surrender. I was hoping that when Monta or Reggie had to rest, DWright would slide down to the 2, or something more creative such as outlined in your post. But it seemed to me that Smart settled for using the entire 2nd half, if not more, as an additional preseason game to get Lin some experience and further see what he can get from Bell and other bench players. I felt forced to watch the game the same way.

    I expect this team to improve with experience (and better health) and provide more of the type of enjoyment that we got Friday night. What I take from last nights game is that I should not expect unconventional strategies to compete with and sometimes defeat teams with obviously stronger rosters. Relapse indeed. The D.N.T.’s?

  5. Felt, taking my analysis a little deeper will have to wait. GIANTS ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF BASEBALL! WOOOOOHOOOOO!

  6. Reggie Williams was awful on defense against Fisher and should have been replaced earlier then he was. Running more plays for Williams begs the issue. R. Williams was effective last year when he was given the ball when he wide open on the perimeter. This year a hand is in his face on most plays.

    You make no mention of the fact that D.Lee and Biedrens failed to play aggressive interior defense as they did against Houston. I agree with Steve’s post that the D. Lee and Biedrens played soft against the Lakers, unlike the Houston game.

    I think that Nellie may have gone smaller but he may have pulled D.Lee and Biedrens early and replaced them with bigger men given that the Lakers were dominating the offensive glass in the first quarter. We will never know.

    I agree that Smart did not run enough plays for D.Lee, particularly pick and rolls.

  7. CURSE OF MULLIN

    Feltbot: Wasn’t it you who wrote recently how overrated Wall is? Did you see him tonight against the Sixers (Jrue Holiday, a decent defensive pg)? 29 pts, 13 assists, 9 steals (yes, NINE steals). He’s still rough around the edges but the athleticism and competitiveness ooze from his pores. Back to the drawing board for you on that one.

  8. Easy COM, defense is played by teams, and Philly has probably the worst defensive frontline in the NBA. I stand by my observation that he can’t shoot. Let’s see how that plays out as good teams start game-planning for him. I know how it turned out for Brandon Jennings.

  9. Let me add, its obvious that he’s a highly talented player in the Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose mold. I am sold on all of those guys as special basketball players. I just think they are highly overrated as point guards. Wall is clearly a better passer than those 2. But he shares their inability to spread the defense.

  10. “I’m not fooling anyone by trying to make Reggie into a point guard, because that takes away from his natural game,” Smart said. “I can’t try to make Charlie into that. These guys have to play their natural positions.

    “That’s why it’s so important for Lin to be able to come in and give us quality minutes at backup point guard until we can get healthy.”

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/11/02/SPCV1G5U15.DTL#ixzz14FGkYgXk

    Huh? I guess all those games last year playing point forward for Nellie, and his 27 point 8 assist pre-season performance at point guard were not part of Reggie’s natural game?

    Who is coaching the Warriors, Keith Smart or Joe Lacob?