Vladdy!: Warriors 117 Kings 109

As the third quarter came to a close, I wasn’t planning on recapping this game. The Warriors trailed by 14, and if they had gone on to lose, I was just going to write one line in the comments to the last post:

I think Don Nelson could have solved the puzzle of this game.

But surprise to end all surprises, Keith Smart stepped up and solved it himself. The key to beating the Kings in this game was to go small, with David Lee at center, and Vlad Rad at power forward. On offense, spread the floor and let your great slashers and shooters work. On defense, use your quicker players to deny King’s penetration, and when you get the rebound off of that inevitable Tyreke Evans brick, RUN.

Of course, if you are of a mind to question Keith Smart, plenty of questions remain. Why did he wait to go to this lineup until all other options had failed? After Amundson had ignominiously fouled out in 13 minutes against the Kings putrid front line? After Udoh had been exhausted? Why did he try to guard Cousins with Udoh, and Landry with Lee in the third quarter, when it should have been the other way around?

Why does Keith Smart only put his best lineups on the floor when the Warriors are in uphill battles? Why does Keith Smart only ask his phenomenal open court team to push the pace when they are staring defeat in the face?

Those are questions for another day. For this day, Keith Smart found the answer in time, and got the win. Let’s hope it continues.

Vlad Rad: It was only yesterday that I wrote that the Warriors best lineup has David Lee at center, and Vlad Rad at power forward. But in general, I have been writing on this theme since the start of the year. And its been a very lonely job. To my knowledge, Smart’s use of Vlad Rad has been met with open ridicule by every prominent Warriors commentator. Marcus Thompson, Rusty Simmons, Steinmetz, Lauridsen, all of them.

Only one Warriors commentator has seen fit to find the good in Vlad’s game. Only one has tried to present both sides of the story through every disaster, every brainfart, every yanking. Only one has insisted, through everything, that hidden inside Vlad Rad is a very good basketball player.

That would be me.

We saw every bit of how good Vlad can be in this game. Let’s start with his defense on Carl Landry. If you replay only one quarter of this season, make this the game, and watch Vlad defend Carl Landry in the fourth quarter. The same Carl Landry that had burned through every Warriors defender for 20 points and 9 rebounds up to that point. Vlad held him to 2 points and 1 rebound.

But it was how he did it that was so special. He denied him the basketball. And he denied him the basketball so spectacularly that I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed it done better. Landry grew so frustrated that he began throwing Vlad all over the court, and even off the court. Vlad wasn’t intimidated in the slightest. He stuck his nose right back in Landry’s shirt, and never took it out.

(Like Alex in A Clockwork Orange, Dorell Wright should be required to watch Vlad’s fourth quarter defensive performance for three days straight, while having his eyelids held open with clips, and being fed intravenously. Maybe that would work.)

And even while he was so focused on Landry, Vlad was still actively engaged in rotating to prevent the Kings’ guards from penetration. Vlad Rad is the Warriors’ best help defender, by far. There is no one close to him. Particularly Dorell Wright, who somehow manages to show up late on every single rotation. To my eye, Vlad never misses a defensive rotation. He is great at it.

Now let’s talk offense. Everyone of course will be talking about the terrific clutch three that sent the game into overtime. But just as Udoh’s highlight reel sequence last night obscured the real value of his performance, Vlad’s shot will obscure his total contribution to the Warriors’ offense in this game. It is almost difficult to describe what Vlad does for a team on offense, because he has what is called a total floor game. He can do everything. Shoot the three, and thereby open up the middle of the court for David Lee and the Warriors slashers. Slash to the hoop himself and finish with authority. See the floor and make the perfect pass.

Oops. Of course, Vlad’s performance would never be complete without one completely egregious brainfart. And that thrown away outlet pass would once again have been the story of this game if he hadn’t rewritten the ending.  But it’s because he is such a good passer that that pass was even attempted. He is a great passer, and the Warriors offense never runs better than when he is on the court, playing the four.

Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s long for the position. When Biedrins returns, Smart will probably slip right back into conventionality at all times. If that happens, it would be a pity, because Vlad belongs at the four, where he can competely distort the opposing team’s defense.

If he is moved back to the three though, it should be in front of Dorell Wright. He is a better basketball player than Dorell Wright. He did something in this game that Dorell Wright has never done in his life.

He was a stopper.

Prediction: This Warriors season hit rock bottom in the third quarter of this game. Curry will be back for Christmas, and I don’t care if Biedrins ever comes back. It will all be uphill from here.

I’ll turn the mike over to our superstar, Monta Ellis:

Before the season ends we will be right in the hunt for the 8 seed.

From his mouth to Santa’s ears.  Happy Holidays, everyone!

55 Responses to Vladdy!: Warriors 117 Kings 109

  1. I see the good with Vlad. No doubt. But my god, does the bad stand out. I love his competitiveness but he needs to check it sometimes.

    There is no worse response to the outlet pass brain fart than the jacking of the contested 3 at the other end (and I recall a similar response against the Rockets). There is no worse reaction to the botched rebound versus Houston than the Flagrant 1 lash-out.

    I hold hope that the farts can be erased from his repotoire, but I fear he is a known quantity at this stage in his career. Fingers crossed though.

  2. And also, for the love of god, can we improve our FT shooting (utilising instruction from shooting ‘coach’ Mark Price). Without Steph around to ice the game – no lead is safe.

    The Warriors are not a good enough team to leave points at the line.

  3. That was my question, if Vlad played 3 in place of DW. What a mystery this guy is. I don’t recall many similar performances last year. So he was really hurt then? But this is the last year of his contract, right? Is he playing well for a trade/new contract?

    But here’s FB on VR in the Dallas game last year:

    Vlad Rad: Why does Don Nelson crave big men who can shoot the three? For the answer, you need look no further than the performances of Monta Ellis and Anthony Morrow in the last two games. When you can spread the floor on offense, you force your opponent to bring one of his big men out to guard at the three point line. Your opponent can then no longer guard your entire team by packing the lane, or packing a side. He is forced to pick his poison. In the last two games, that poison has frequently been a single-covered Monta Ellis, or an open Morrow three-ball. Vlad Rad’s presence has had a radically transformative effect on the Warriors offense.

    But Vlad Rad was much more than a spread-the-floor four tonight. He drew the difficult assignment of guarding Dirk Nowitzki, and delivered in spades. He got right up in Dirk’s chest, and challenged his shot. When Dirk got by him, he fouled him to keep him from dunking. And for a player who is new to the team, he seems to have already picked up the defensive scheme. His rotations were solid. This is a very intelligent player. And how about those 12 rebounds and 4 steals? Vlad, is that you? In the brief stretch of games in which I’ve seen him, Vlad has made me feel that Don Nelson may have hit the jackpot in his forced trade of Stephen Jackson.

    http://feltbot.com/2009/11/24/six-is-enough-warriors-111-mavericks-103/

  4. Love, Hate, Love.

    My biggest gripe with Vlad is his incostistancy. I realize his minutes are equally inconsistant. To his credit he’s trying to push this team to be better with his recent rant at an open practice and the energy he has been showing on the court. I especially like his effort on the boards late in the game last night. So today it’s Love Rad time and I agree that he should be starting at the 3 with Dorell coming off the bench.

    Berko: I agree. FT% has to improve but may be a reflection of too many minutes ala a lack of depth and the injury situation. Regardless they should be at least 75%.

    This win was more about the Kings self destructing than the Warriors playing good basketball.

    Merry Christmas Warriors fans, may your tree be filled with bananas.

  5. I don’t care if Biedrins ever comes back. It will all be uphill from here.” I’m so with you on this line, Andris is just not fit for this team. I’m of the thought that Smart needs to discontinue giving D Wright these unquestioned minutes, Vlad (with inconsistencies and all) is every good as Dorell Wright and perhaps a better player, period. Not because he hit the big shot but he creates mismatches when he’s tuned in and thinking.

  6. Basketball for Dummies

    Dear “Only One”

    How cliche to ‘Pop your jersey’ after V-Rad has a heroic game. Look forward to more V-Rad updates after his more typical games peppered with meltdowns.

    Although I do detect he might be entering into “Contract drive” mode.

  7. 4 times in the last two games I have slapped my head in disbelief at something Vlad has done. Thank god the last time it was for sinking that miracle shot to save the game. I hope that quells some of the negative posts for a while. And I hope even more that he learns to take care of the ball when he gets it under the defensive basket. Enough with the game-killers that obliterate all the good he does!

    That said, I sorta agree that the third quarter could be the nadir of the season (hopefully.) I would have put it more strongly: the season could have been lost right there. But as spirited as the Warriors became, it was due solely to the dissolution of the Kings. 9 turnovers? That obliterated almost all of their lead, and that inexplicable loss out of bounds of the rebound by Cousins with 2 seconds left was more than a gift. That had to be the nadir of the Kings shitty season. And did anyone else notice how often the camera was on his face ? Very instructive. I have never witnessed a professional athlete so immature in his facial expressions and gestures. Holy shit did we ever dodge a bullet. That lad is a team-killer.

    The Kings had two players whom I want on the Warriors, Landry and Udrih, and significantly (I think) when Udrih fouled out the two seemed to be intelligently talking the situation over. Losing to this squad would have be a disaster for any team; I fear for Westphal’s job.

    And Monta put the team on his back and willed them to a win in overtime. Outstanding.

  8. Feltbot, talk about how Lacob dictates who are the starters? Smart may complain to Riley, but what can Riley do? Make an appointment to talk to Kirk?

  9. Rgg, I’d already forgotten that last year’s post on Vlad Rad, thanks for the reminder. Regarding why he’s playing so much better, I think both are true. Yes, he was really injured last year. And yes, he’s in a contract year.

    I agree that the Kings self-destructed last night, but I think it had quite a bit to do with the Warriors small unit taking away what they wanted to do on offense, and the running game making them fearful.

    A note on Anthony Morrow. Something tells me the Nets trade for Sasha Vujacic will turn out to be bad news for Morrow: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/boxscore?gid=2010122129

  10. Fear the beard?

    Vlad has had a long and unspectacular career. I wonder how well he fit in with the other teams. But if he wanted a team where he could move up and make a difference, that might best make use of his size and speed and skills, he has found one. I also wonder if he was one of Smart’s projects over the summer. We didn’t have reason to expect anything from him this year, other than be traded for his expiring contract. Apparently he was taken seriously in practices and proven himself there.

    I’m in a mood to fear the beard, for more unshaven Warriors.

  11. Is it just me, or has Lauridsen taken to plagiarizing me? Take a look at the first line of his latest:

    http://blogs.mercurynews.com/warriors/2010/12/22/whew-warriors-117-kings-109/

    And the title of my Twolves recap of a few days ago:

    http://feltbot.com/2010/12/15/a-win-in-the-worst-way-warriors-108-twolves-99/

    Can that be an accident?

  12. I disagree I think Andris and Lee are our best front court lineup. Rad should be coming off the bench. Granted he should be getting more mins, but I dont think he should be starting over DWright.

  13. From Rusty Simmons at SFGate:

    Lacob asked for patience: “Don’t blame the new ownership group for the sins of the past. Give us a chance to fix the situation. I hope we can do it quickly but in all honesty, it may take a little time and a few moves to get there.

    How long is Lacob going to lean on this one? Sacramento strikes me as the kind of team you get when you follow his conventional wisdom — size, etc. Factor in what happens when you don’t get franchise players but the best available.

    I think AL is alluding to you, FB. It is a form of praise. Also the phrase is used differently.

  14. TL: I am not arguing for VR to start. AB should start, especially against frontline centers. I’m simply saying the Ws most productive lineup will have either VR or EU (when he’s ready to take his 20 ft. shot) at the 4, and Lee at the 5. Many great team’s most productive lineups came off the bench. Havlicek (and Nelson!) on the Celtics, Ginobili on the Spurs, Cassell on the Rockets…

    rgg: It may not have been obvious to all, but I intended the double entendre that Adam made explicit. That win broke a 7 game losing streak.

    And I do take it as a form of praise, and I do think it’s funny, but let’s be serious: this was plagiarism, not an allusion.

  15. Here’s the link on the Lacob interview:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/12/21/SP6S1GTVV8.DTL

    I think that quote about not wanting to be blamed for the sins of the past is a complete joke. He inherited a playoff basketball team with a legendary and exhilarating style of play, and has all but destroyed it in three simple moves: Firing Nelson, and rejecting Pargo (or a suitable alternative) and Tolliver for Lin and Amundson.

    Which is not mention imposing his son on the basketball staff as “Director of Basketball Operations,” and dictating a style of play to his powerless rookie coach.

    Whose sins are these? I simply can’t stomach the fact that he said that… I feel a major post brewing.

  16. Lacob not wanting to be blamed for the sins of the past is the same excuse Obama tried with no affect on public opinion. People want change for the better, especially Warriors fans. So far absolutely nothing has been done by Lacob and Co to improve the team. How long must he continue to assess the situation before he relizes he does not have the right talent when it is so obvious to anyone else?

  17. Even if Lacob is right about anything, it is a craven remark. And at the very least he is only pandering to the crowd. But he apparently has exerted quite a bit of influence on a team that has, neutrally speaking, made overwhelming changes over the team of the last years — new coach, a whole bench of new players.

    At worst it suggests someone possessed of narrow vision, who hasn’t taken a critical look at what the Warriors had before or what they have now, and who has more in store for us.

    Owners should not be seen and not heard. They should just hire good people and pay the bills.

  18. Ape, I don’t agree with you that this team doesn’t have the right talent. Particularly with the addition of Udoh, I believe this team has one of the most talented rosters in the league. WITH THE RIGHT COACH.

    I sincerely believe this is a 50+ win team — and perhaps better, depending on the upside of Udoh — in the hands of a Nelson, D’Antoni, Karl or Gentry.

    We have never seen this team play they way they are supposed to play. Not one game.

  19. Amazing timing. GSoM is an uproar over the fact that Rusty Simmons plagiarized his article from a GSoM fan post.

    Apparently, blog posts require no attribution in the eyes of mainstream media. Which is intensely humorous, since we provide 90% of the real content.

  20. “I feel a major post brewing.”

    Woohoo!

    Thanks fb (as always) for the knowledge. I’ve watched hoops for more than a few years. My first year of fandom was ’72 (Wilt and co. win 33 straight!), but I’ve not had the time to develop your level of expertise. And lest face it, it’s not just the time – some of you got it, and some of us don’t quite. I love that you see this as a 50+ win team if it had the right leadership. And I sure as hell hope that your prediction proves out. I miss the rush! As I posted once before, even I can see that it’s at least a 42 win team, which it is obviously not on pace for.

    LACOBFAIL!

  21. Watching the Knicks run the Thunder off the court, and I am oh so envious. Hate to enrage the faithful here, but it is not out of the question that I will become a Mike D’Antoni/Knicks blogger.

    To me, the basketball is paramount.

  22. I dunno Feltbot. I agree with everything you’ve been saying but want to tone it down. It’s still a very young team, with no real veterans (hard to count Vlad Rad), no players with significant experience on winning teams, except Monta once, who’s had to ride a roller coaster the last few years. And they’ve shown it with just bad execution–dumb turnovers (I accept smart turnovers) and dumb fouls–and uncertainty regardless of the system they’re using. We really saw it at the end of the the first halves with Houston and Sac, which hurt them in both. Then the injuries, especially Lee and now Curry, which have had a serious impact.

    I.e., I don’t know they would have done that much better with Nelson, at least in terms of wins. But we certainly would have had a much more watchable, more creditable team, which is a more realistic goal and for me my first priority. And perhaps they would have continued to develop something they could build on the next seasons, which Lacob & co. has thrown into doubt.

    And they have been shooting lately and running more. Here’s hoping Smart keeps pursuing this. At some point I have to make peace with what we’ve got and make one of two decisions: keep watching the games or turn the tube off, as I’ve been doing off and on the last decades.

  23. Vlad Rad has talent but (almost) never lets that get in the way of a mental meltdown. Felt, you and Smart both have been blinded by the talent, rather than the results on the court. So far he’s had about 10 lousy games and a couple of good ones this season. Let’s see if he can build off of last night.

    And, please, if Vlad is to play, play him at the 3, not the 4. He can’t defend or rebound the 4 position. I think Udoh will work himself into the starting 5 eventually. Lee and Udoh complement eachother. As Lee regains his shooting touch, they will be our best 4/5 combo.

    Good question about why Smart only has them run when they are behind. Been frustrated about that myself.

    Did you just give Lauridsen the choke sign with that comment about plagiarism?

    And give your arms a rest. Must be weary from patting yourself on the back so much today. (insert happy face here).

  24. “He can’t defend or rebound the 4 position.”

    I don’t know how u can have that opinion after watching last night’s game, OT. He DESTROYED Carl Landry in the fourth quarter.

    And please take a look at that excerpt posted by rgg, above, detailing how VR defended Nowitzki in the Warriors 6-handed win in Dallas last year. Did you watch that game?

    Surely you’ll concede that Vlad Rad is a better defender of fours than both Al Harrington and Matt Barnes? Those guys are all Nellie needed to win 50 games and knock off a #1 seed.

  25. Hmm… I just tried to post a simple link to my TWolves post on Lauridsen’s blog, asking if it was coincidence, and it was held for moderation…

    Pretty sure that’s never happened before when I’ve linked.

  26. Wow! The hyperbole continues (“This is a 50+ win team”). No, this is not a 50+ win team, regardless of who’s coaching it. This team has 3 very good players in Ellis, Curry and Lee. The others range from average to borderline NBA players, with their “impact” based solely on the quality of the team on which they play. Or to put it another way, if a sizeable number of players from the Warriors bench were released today the response they’d receive from the rest of the league would be lukewarm, at best.

    With the exception of the outstanding play of Monta Ellis, there is nothing even remotely “great” about this team, yet I’m constantly bombarded with the word “great” when reading Felt’s analysis of the players, from Reggie Williams scoring, to GSW’s 3-point shooting prowess, to Vlad Rad’s passing, even their overall ability as a running team. Nonsense. RW continues to run hot and cold, bricking far more shots then he swishes. Volume scorers are what they are…..inconsistent shooters. One of the more “painful” highlights from last night was Williams choking at the free throw line towards the end of regulation after being fouled taking a 3-pointer. Vlad Rad makes one 3-pointer then usually airballs or bricks the next 4 or 5 he takes. DWright either hits every 3-pointer he takes or none at all. Other than Curry (and maybe Ellis, much improved from behind the arc) where are all these “great” 3-point shooters on this team?

    As for Udoh, I’m sticking by my prediction of another Joe Smith. I’m sure he’ll have a decent career, but also like Smith, I’m sure that career will see him play for numerous teams as the years go by. Good enough for the NBA, but never good enough to be deemed indispensable by any one team. How good are his hands? Small sample size thus far, but against Sac had that pass from Williams underneath the basket go right through his hands, and also lost control of the ball while attempting a post up move.

    I do believe with better health and an easier schedule in Jan and Feb the Warriors will win their share of games in the near future. Beyond that, and even more importantly, beyond their core 3 of Ellis, Curry and Lee, this team has a LONG way to go before the word “great” is an appropriate manner of description, whether individually or collectively.

  27. Steve, I respect your right to have your own opinion. But if you are going to continue to call Reggie Williams a “volume shooter,” who “bricks more shots than he swishes,” then I am going to continue to challenge you to explain his shooting percentages. Last year, 50% field, 36% three. This year, 47% field, 43% three. By any standard, those are elite shooting percentages for a shooting guard. Michael Jordan’s career percentages: 50% field, 33% three. Kobe Bryant’s: 46% field, 34% three.

    As for my use of the word “great” to describe the core of this team — which several posters believe is hyperbole — I admit it is very difficult to visualize something that has never been realized on the court. But I believe that Monta, Curry and David Lee are an elite core, IN A NELLIEBALL SYSTEM. I don’t believe more than a handful of NBA teams have a better trio of players. And I believe that Don Nelson would tear the league apart with this trio of players, the same way Mike D’Antoni is tearing the league apart with Amare Stoudemire and… who? Simply tear the league apart.

    Just as an example I think Nellie would have beaten Sacramento by double digits in regulation last night, by playing Lee at center, and Vlad Rad and Dorell Wright at 4, and Reggie Williams at THREE (where he would have been absolutely unguardable, while giving nothing away to the Dontae Greenes and Omri Casspis of this world), and guarding Beno Udrih — who should NEVER beat a team the way he beat the Warriors in the first three quarters — with Acie Law from the START of the game. (Trying to guard Udrih with Reggie Williams was the kind of sheer idiocy that only a non-thinking “system” coach would subject his team to. Nellie would never accept such a brutal matchup. He inflicted those matchups on the OTHER team.)

    And Nellie would have run pick and roll with Lee and Ellis against that fat ass DeMarcus Cousins until Westphal’s head imploded. Play after play after play.

    And he would have run on every rebound, on every steal and on every made basket until that fat ass DeMarcus Cousins and his equally slow backup Samuel Dalembert collapsed.

    I know it’s difficult to visualize, and I know I will NEVER be able to prove my contentions, because Keith Smart is not Don Nelson, and at least under this owner, he never will be.

    But I can visualize it, and I will continue to express it in terms that I believe in, because I have never shied away from lost causes. This blog was a lost cause from the start.

  28. Tiger, thank you from the bottom of my heart for that link. It will be used, as you know very well :>

  29. felt: Vlad’s been getting KILLED at the 4 all season until last night. He had one good game at the 4. From that you conclude he’s great at the 4? That’s crazy.

  30. There is a difference between saying that Vlad is “great” at the four, which I’ve never said, and that

    1) four is his best position, and
    2) currently Lee at 5 and Vlad at 4 is the Warriors best lineup;

    which is what I did say.

  31. Felt, I absolutely agree with you that if Nelson was still coaching this team they’d be better and more exciting/entertaining. Better offensively and as a result more exciting. His schemes would put everyone in better position to excell and his matchup strategies would bedevil the opponents. Couldn’t agree more! Unfortunately, for me, you and the other supporters of Nelli, he isn’t coming back for Act III. That leaves us fans with Smart and HIS coaching of THESE players. I can find little if any greatness in that combination.

    I understand what those RW shooting percentages are saying, but the eyeball test for me says something totally different. A lot of his points are scored on drives to the basket, which I believe is his strength offensively. Inside shots would also equate to a healthier FG%. Watch this 10:20 highlight package from the Sac game. Williams takes 4 shots in the package, with 2 of his 3 makes on layups. Also, watch his reaction following his missed FT at the end of regulation. He didn’t miss that intentionally, even though it was ultimately a blessing that the shot was missed. His FT shooting last night was just plain horrible. Bob Fitz had the line of the night when he stated that the Warriors foul shooting was just that……FOUL shooting. And it’s been that way all season long, not just Williams last night.

    The Warriors are a long ways from great. They need more good players, lots more, to go along with their core “Big 3″. They also need smarter players. This is, overall, a low basketball-IQ team. And those kind never ever contend for or win championships.

    Felt, thanks for the response and your explanation of these “great” Warriors. Always look forward to reading this blog.

  32. feltTroll you’re embarrassing yourself…

    Let’s see the team has lost 14 of their last 16…sounds like they need “A win in the worst way”…and you “OWN the phrase?

    Now if Adam had said “The Warriors have the talent to win 50+ games if only Nellie was coaching”…then you might have a point!

    Get over yourself!

    ~and the flock sits silent~

  33. BTW you might have noticed…I’m returning YOUR HANDLE “basketball for dummies”…one of the many handles you’ve used on your trolling runs! Which I’m sure you won’t have the balls to admit!!

    No fun anymore when you start hitting below the belt accsuing someone of plagiarism on such a flimsy coinsidence…

    ~and the flock sits silent~

  34. I have no idea who BfD is, as he seems to have so many personalities, but I’m damn sure he’s never been me. I have always been content to create trouble as feltbot.

    It’s being reported that Stephen Silas is leaving the Warriors to join his dad on Charlotte’s bench. Is this an opening for the Director of Basketball Operations?

  35. “I’m damn sure” your conscientious is clear…sleep well

  36. I just realized who is the perfect candidate to replace Stephen Silas:

    Keith Smart.

  37. fb, would choosing between the Knicks and the current Spurs be a tough choice for you, or not so much? It is, of course, more fun in many ways to latch onto a team on the way up than one that’s already near the top. Sometimes I tend to think Nellie fans should see themselves as the great beauties that they are and play the field for a bit until Mr. Right fully distinguishes himself. Or do you feel he already has?

    (apologies for the girly imagery to those who have problems with that sort of thing; didn’t feel like spending time working out a suitably macho metaphor)

  38. GM, it’s interesting that you assume that we should latch onto one team and one team only. If we are fans of beautiful basketball, shouldn’t we love it equally wherever we find it? But I think I agree with you. It’s in our nature to want to pick a team, isn’t it? We want to fall in love. (Just thought I’d expand on your metaphor :>)

    The Spurs are certainly playing beautiful basketball right now, and there’s no doubt they are a better team than the Knicks. But I’ve always had trouble getting into the Spurs, although Popovich is a coach I admire as much as his mentor, Don Nelson. It starts with Duncan: He’s just too emotionless for me, too joyless. His game is flawless, but I don’t get a lot of pleasure in watching it. It’s robotic. I took a lot of pleasure in watching Nellie light him up with Dirk. And of course that’s the other problem. The Spurs were the arch-enemy of Nellie’s Mavs.

    D’Antoni’s Knicks are to me the living avatar of Nellieball. The relentless running. The punishing of big, unskilled players with small, highly skilled players. The beautiful open court passing. The deadly three point shooters. The ever-changing and ingenious game plans.

    It could be our team. We have the players, as was proven when we kicked the Knicks’ butt in MSG with our rookie coach. But alas, it seems obvious now that this Warriors team will never again get to play the style of basketball for which it was assembled.

    I had hopes that the Miami Heat would offer something similar. But Riley, like Lacob, seems torn between recreating his Showtime Lakers, and his own brutal version of the New York Knicks.

  39. I realize the Lauridsen “A win in the worst way” saga is distracting and utterly tiresome to readers. My apologies, but I viewed it as necessary. And it’s now over. Here’s the text of my last post on his blog:

    “What got my attention was not the use of a simple and apt phrase, but also the invention of the double meaning, just days after I had invented it. I have been around for a while, and read a whole lot of sportswriting, and in all that time I’ve never seen that double meaning used once. So to see it used twice in one week was very surprising to me.

    I have accepted Adam’s statement to me that he did not see my post before writing his, and that his words are his own.

    However, I do not believe I was wrong to bring this up. I would do it again, and will do it again, should any other writer raise my eyebrows.”

    Flame away.

  40. Three questions in regards to a coaching change:

    1. Who would be the best candidate for the players on this team who might be available (available is key here)?

    2. Who would be the candidate Lacob would choose who might be available (quite likely an entirely different question)?

    3. How would either of these coaches compare with Smart, especially #2, our most likely bet?

  41. feltbolt,
    nice little warriors info. I am getting tired of the backbiting of another blog that I have frequented for years. I will stay turned. Keep up the good work.

  42. ESPN’s David Thorpe on Ekpe Udoh

    Ekpe Udoh, Warriors:

    “In action for the first time this season, the big man from Baylor displayed terrific energy in a tough loss to Houston.

    Going into the draft, I wrote that he had a chance to be a guy who had to be double-teamed in the post on offense, but who never needed help when defending in the post. Those kinds of guys are very rare.

    Yes, he’s a long way from being that guy, but he showed low-post talent and some solid (and in one case, spectacular) defense in that game — a sure sign that his development into a front-line NBA player must be at the forefront of Golden State’s plans. He and Stephen Curry make an intriguing combination, and when teamed with Monta Ellis and David Lee, the Warriors have a potential top-four core that can be dynamite.”

    “Those kind of guys are very rare….” I guess you can put David Thorpe in the feltbot camp.

  43. Paul Westphal, a great coach, is nearing the end in Sacramento.

    http://ken-berger.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/11838893/26623365

    Prediction: This is not the last coach that DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans blow up.

  44. If you haven’t caught any Knicks games yet, Landry Fields, the rookie out of Stanford, is one more reason to watch them. Here’s Donnie Walsh comparing him to John Havlicek:

    http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/knicks/fields_of_dreams_TshRmiWBy37DVcmxLVj3LP

    I was fortunate enough to scoop him up off the waiver wire early in the season for my fantasy team, and he’s paying big dividends. (But it cost me Reggie Williams, who at that time was buried on Smart’s bench. Just one more reason why Smart has made me a little grumpy.)

  45. Felt,

    I know this will never happen, but there should 2 awards for rookies –
    ROY and MVR, Most Valuable Rookie. Let Griffin or Wall win ROY and give the MVR to Fields. I’ve watched a lot of Knicks games. Incredible 2nd rd. pk.

    And I wonder what AR is thinking as he sits and watches Fields. Or when he watches Shawne Williams (back from the dead) play.I hope he gets that he needs to learn how to play. Stop expecting to get minutes when you suck.

  46. Lacob: “Don’t blame the new ownership group for the sins of the past.”

    Man, this phrase rankles me in so many ways. I can’t think of anything else he’s said that makes me question him as much. “Sins” — the language is horribly suggestive of a narrow and misguided mind, hypocritically appropriating some spurious moral ground. Either that or he’s simply careless in his language and thought.

    Also Lacob is shrugging responsibility for the major decision he has made. Note that in trying to correct these “sins,” he didn’t fire Rowell or Riley or Smart, and the changes made to the roster once he took over were minor (I’ve heard CJ didn’t want to play third guard again, I don’t know Tolliver would have made that much difference though I wanted to see him, I didn’t mind Lin but assumed we were going to get something out of Bell, Pargo isn’t playing now? etc.)

    The major decision, of course, was firing Nelson, and doing so at the last minute. I don’t know he would have won many more games — the team is still young and the bench weak — but he could have developed an offensive core to build on later with trades, setting something in place that could have had lasting influence. If anyone could have maximized the potential of the team’s unusual but extremely talented backcourt — Curry/Ellis — it was Nelson. And figured out how to best add Lee to the equation. And he would have helped mature two 2nd. year, talented players, Curry and Reggie.

    Etc.

    Nelson would also have had something he’s had only fleetingly the last years, guys who are willing and eager to play together. This what we saw at the end of last year and is the thing we’ve most seen this year. He probably would have bumped heads with Ellis but so what. That wouldn’t have slowed either down. We know how Curry and RW feel about Nelson. Lee would play his heart out for any coach, but with Nelson he would have been rewarded with marquee stats. And maybe he wouldn’t have brought the best out of Biedrins or Vlad, but how much of a loss? Smart as assistant could have handled the details, maybe smoothed things over with players, his talent.

    All of this could only have happened if Lacob knew how to evaluate what he had from last year and recognized the potential in what he might have had if Nelson had stayed. Apparently he didn’t know — and we have cause to be worried about how well he’ll evaluate the team this year.

    Bah, humbug.

  47. Here’s a couple thoughts for you about Lacob’s “minor” personnel decisions, rgg: If Nellie were still running the team, obviously Lin would not have been signed, and Nellie would have had a backup point guard he knew he could play. Nellie was also very comfortable with Reggie Williams running the point from the small forward position, as he proved last year. He knew what to do with Reggie.

    So would Curry have had to play all those minutes, on the ball, when he was hurting, if Don Nelson had been left in charge? Would he have been required to play man-to-man defense against the quickest point guards in the league, as Smart ever so ridiculously required him to do? Would he have worn his ankle down to the point of reinjury?

    Now let’s just assume that Amundson was healthy and available at the start of the year. Do you remember what happened when David Lee got injured? Keith Smart went to those abominable Biedrins+Gadzuric frontlines, which completely shut down the Warriors offense because neither player can spread the floor, and other teams were free to triple team and zone Monta Ellis. Would playing Amundson instead of Gadzuric have helped that? No, it wouldn’t because Amundson is an even WORSE shooter than Gadz. Amundson is not a 4, he is a non-shooting back-up small ball 5, which Joekirk completely don’t understand, because the limit of what they understand is vertical inches, pounds, and dividing rebounds by minutes played.

    Can you imagine how differently those games would have been played if Tolliver had been on the floor instead of Gadzuric? Tolliver, spreading the floor out to the three point line. Tolliver, the guy shooting 44% from three this year. Tolliver, the guy who layed 34 points on Kevin Love in his own house. Tolliver, the guy who when he started to gain confidence and come into his own under Nellie was perhaps the biggest reason that the Warriors skeleton squad of Dleaguers and rookies finished on a 7-5 run to close last season?

    Gadzuric would never have seen a minute alongside Biedrins under Nellie. It would have been Tolliver and Radmanovich (whom Nellie was very happy to play when he was healthy), and yes, Dorell Wright and Rodney Carney. Period. And the Warriors would have run like hell, and put up 10-20 more high percentage shots a game than they are doing now.

    Personally, I think the decisions Lacob made radically changed the face of this season, and quite probably cost the Warriors a playoff run.

  48. No argument, though I’m skeptical these decisions would have made that much of a difference against the powerhouses that mowed us down.

    But it’s a moot point. Your argument presupposes Nelson was there making these decisions in the first place. These roster changes are minor compared to Lacob’s major failing, not keeping Nelson.

    And more and more I’m thinking this was a horrible mistake on his part. I’m guessing they still would have fallen short or at best squeaked in at the 8 spot. But the more important factor is what Nelson might have developed for the future regardless of results, a core of players, a system to build on. Instead Lacob will probably tinker around the next years with coaches and players, with middling to dismal results.

    The key is being able to read potential, in players, in coaches, in systems. Lacob doesn’t have this.

  49. Sac’s problem isn’t Cousins. Give Cousins another year or two and he’ll be near-unstoppable. The problem is that they don’t have a first-rate pg. Evans obviously isn’t a pg; he’s mostly taking up space (and ball possessions) as a one-dimensional 2 guard who can drive but doesn’t share the ball and can’t hit an outside shot. Can you imagine how good they’d be with Curry running the point and Cousins at the 5? Throw in a veteran 4 (like David Lee) to try to mentor Cousins and you’d have a contender in a couple of years.

  50. Our Team, I respectfully disagree on two points. Cousins IS the problem. There are certain teammates (people) whom you just don’t like and wish they would go away. I’d be surprised if there’s not a lot of that right now on that team. I’m, both for good and bad, reminded of Zack Randolph, what a team killer he was until he finally matured. That’s my second point. Randolph matured sometime after age 25. I predict the same for Cousins, not your one year. That’s a lot of killed coaches and teams in the meantime.

    On the other thread, I agree with everything said about Nelson. Is there any way Lacob/Gruber can bring him back and save face? Maybe to replace Silas? (!) Even if just as a consultant?

  51. I just realized that this is one of the great basketball-watching days of the year. Bulls at Knicks in the morning. Followed by Celtics at Magic(Gilbert Arenas on a good team!), then Heat at Lakers. Gonna skip Nuggets at Thunder (I’m not that sick!). Then of course the cherry on top: Blazers at Warriors.

    I kind of see what David Stern is getting at. This is his day to create new fans.

    And embitter wives and family :>

  52. Rusty Simmons tweets: “Stephen Curry’s jersey is hanging in his locker for the first time since Dec. 8. Looks like he’s gonna go.”

    Yes!

  53. Extremely impressed with The Nightmare’s on-ball defense on Aldridge tonight. I have no idea why Lee was guarding Aldridge when Udoh was in the game because Udoh made Aldridge terribly uncomfortable in the low and mid post.

    Udoh was a -6 tonight, but I blame that on the second chance points off Aldridge misses and the one bad pass that turned into 2 for Portland. Otherwise, Udoh looks like he will make a difference THIS season. Nice call on Udoh, Felty.

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