Growing Pains: Suns 102 Warriors 91

Not going to recap this Suns game. I wrote up something quite long, but have decided not to post it. Too negative. I’ve saved it, and will probably use some of it in later posts. I hope not. Perhaps it’s completely unjustified. I’ll try to take the long view, and wait for the Warriors to get all their pieces back. It would be nice if this Warriors team could play just one decent stretch of basketball with all of its pieces, wouldn’t it?  Just one stretch in what, four years now? Five?               

But at the moment, I’m a little down on Mark Jackson. Jackson killed his players in his post-game comments. (That didn’t take long, did it?) Said it was inexcusable that they gave up 16 offensive rebounds and kept putting the Suns on the line. I think this rookie coach should pause to take a look in the mirror before he speaks. And maybe consider whether his gameplans, and the lineups he’s putting on the floor, might have contributed to these last two losses.

To understand what I mean, I refer you to my post on Keith Smart’s gameplan against the smaller Bucks last year, a game in which Ersan Ilyasova and MBam coincidentally also had 16 offensive rebounds against the Warriors.

On a positive note, for me at least, the Timberwolves waxed the Spurs on a back-to-back, one night after waxing the World Champs.  Those following the comments in the last thread will know that puts me at 2-0 on my Timberwolves bet, which will be continuing.

I discontinued my Warriors bet before the Suns game, indefinitely.

40 Responses to Growing Pains: Suns 102 Warriors 91

  1. Felt, good job by you. Frankly, I’ve always been an Adelman-is-overrated kinda guy but in gambling the ultimate bottom line is always “scoreboard”, so good luck with your Twolves money.

    I have no problem with Jackson (or any other head coach in pro sports) calling out his players after poor performances. In fact, given that MJ is also a “man of the church”, I was curious as to his approach when a little hollering and screaming (accompanied by maybe one or two bad words) could arguably be called for both during and after games?

    The Suns are not a good team and will be in the lottery come next summer so with games vs SA and LAL up next this was a much needed win they screwed up on. Needless to say, 2-5 after their first 7 games is not the start they or us fans were hoping for.

    It’s hard not to get into that “here we go again” and “same old Warriors” kind of mindset after these last two games. Along with getting everyone back, this team needs to get smarter and they also need more scoring punch from their bench. This was a huge flaw of last year’s team and IMO remains a huge flaw now that I’ve had a chance to watch a little of Klay Thompson (again, a Mike Dunleavy clone?). While their bench has improved from an overall skill standpoint it’s still lacking in good shooters. The defense is no longer “sieve-like” but will it be improved enough if the offense fails to break 100 pts more often than not? I doubt it.

    A good game to change that “mindset”? Seeing as how the Warriors last beat SA on the road right around the time the Chicxulub asteroid hit the Yucatan, I’d say a win over the Spurs on Wednesday would be a great start.

  2. “…maybe consider whether his gameplans, and the lineups he’s putting on the floor, might have contributed to these last two losses…”

    A big 10-4 on that, good buddy.

    Setting up your team to lose, then publicly embarrassing them for the obvious outcome, is a solid gold-certified path to failure as a leader. Even if it really was entirely the players fault, blasting them in the press doesn’t exactly build rapport.

    Let’s hope that either
    a) MJ sees the light before his players tune him out, or
    b) Lacob doesn’t wait too long to dump him.

  3. The Warriors lost the three games they lost because they didn’t score enough points. They should be able to score no matter who is out, as they have in the past.

    Part of the problem is the bench. Barnett made the comment about Morris that he was a natural scorer–and did he score yesterday. Other teams have players who can come in and shoot, to get the scoring going and spread the defense. Can the same be said about anyone on our bench? Rush is our closest bet.

    Then there’s the matter of how to play them on offense, and I’d like some opinions here. My best guess the last two nights was to get Curry off the ball, which was tried late last night. And of course, run, run, run.

    Curry would probably do it anyway, rack up fouls, but I wonder if the talk about poor defense in the back court has an influence. He’s got to back off, maybe attack more intelligently, as Ellis does. And with two point guards in the backcourt, we’ve got 12 fouls to give. There has to be a way Ellis and Curry can spread them out.

    Emphasizing defense is playing not to lose. I would think that nothing weakens the morale of a team or disrupts its momentum more than not being able to score.


    • Don’t get me started, rgg :> I trashed my recap for a reason. Trying to start the new year in a charitable fashion. Let me just wait until Mark Jackson has all his pieces at his disposal before commenting. I’ll give him that, even though we’re a no excuses blog.

      But let’s just say I don’t disagree with anything you wrote.

      • It’s not a matter of personality but a flaw in theory. I will never get tired of looking at this game two years ago against the Lakers:;_ylt=AiKFoAgZ1YT9XIiQZrpY.oqkvLYF?gid=2010031509

        The Warriors were again hobbled, with only three of its starters and a few healthy bodies on the bench, Hunter starting at center. They had a chance to tie with seconds left to go against the Laker team that won the championship. And man, did they play with energy–they were scoring and staying in the game. There’s nothing wrong with our players’ character or spirit or resolve.

        Here’s the kicker: they were out rebounded 56 to 25.

  4. I apologize for any moderation problems. My site is currently suffering a spam attack, and akismet (my spam filter) is apparently suffering a nervous breakdown as a result, causing even my own replies to be held for moderation.

  5. There are lots of thoughts after watching couple of warriors’ games this year (i consider watching full game under huge alcohol influence a 1/3 of a game), but one thing is clear – this team is very arhythmical on offense. It’s heavy on the eyes. Even if their defense is improved, their offense offsets that improvement. It could be on the fact that we have a bench of defenders with little offense (though mcguire last night seemed to be more than adequate in his minutes).

    There’s very little hope watcing a game that if we dug a 10 point hole that we can have enough fire power to climb back. Besides Ellis these are mostly unagressive players. I see why jackson wants udoh be agressive on offense, but so far it doesn’t work too good. And even if kwame brown can solely due to his size have a nice position he rarely finishes with authority. He seems to be unable to get the ball in that magic square on the board almost in a point blank range. So our half court offense looks lost almost 90 percent of the time. Dwright having such a lousy start could be a big issue. There’s simply no spreading the floor.

    Besides chicago game, fast break was inexsitent and the one who loses most because of it is curry. It’s hard to get things done with bad finishers in half court sets and there being little fast break the boy must really feel frustrated. Court vision comes closer to zero if the court shrinks and warriors seem to be masters at that this year.

    It’s a young season (i know, usual warriors fans’ hope), we might get something out of this mix, if not, i, for the first time in curry years, will stop believing this team can work as it is constructed. But since great coaches come in rarely and great players don’t come to warriors, i guess we’ll be mediocre with emphasis on defense for some years to come.

    I prefered warriors to be mediocre with crazy offense, just for the share fun of it.

  6. Btw, feltbot, you were wrong in saying that warriors always had no problems beating suns under nelson.

    It seems that warriors have lost 13 straight at phoenix, that would make – what – 9 straight losses at phoenix with nelson in charge.

    • The Suns were a great team then, that Nellie regularly beat at home.

      • The point is warriors under Nelson did not beat suns at phoenix his last run here. His last season he won only once.
        Marc Jackson hadn’t had a chance yet to beat them at Oracle. So it’s kinda vague statement. Imagine if warriors beat spurs tonight in San Antonio, could one then say – Nelson couldn’t find a way to beat those Spurs, but Jackson just did – with having any argumentative weight to the above statement?
        I don’t think it’s fair argument.

  7. Curry’s turnovers:

    A lot of them occur when he’s running a slow half-court set and gets doubled up, as we saw against Philadelphia. He doesn’t have Ellis’s explosive speed or ability to drive to the basket. When Curry drives, he has to find his slots.

    Some of his turnovers are gross looking–throwing to people not there, as we saw last night. Sometimes he gets ahead of himself. But as Barnett pointed out last night, on a ball Curry threw out of bounds, he was expecting his teammate to make a cut that didn’t happen. On a turnover against Philadelphia, Curry was ahead on a somewhat slow break and got doubled up and turned it over. But as Barnett pointed out, he was looking for someone to throw it to on the break, as he should have expected–and no one was there.

    Curry can run a moving offense. That is his talent. And if he and his teammates ever get in sync, it will be a very effective offense indeed. They will be a step ahead of their opponents all the way.

  8. the problems on offense will make even .500 a difficult goal to reach. Jackson himself admitted that they haven’t improved transition defense, which renders them dead meat against competently run teams once their offensive efficiency slips. the schedule won’t allow them the practice time for tinkering, not to mention the obvious gaps between talent requirements and the actual capabilities of the roster.

    the expedient means to boost the offense are the tried and true open court game and judicious use of three point shooting. the roster has lost a handful of perimeter shooters to attrition — Watson, Morrow, Radmanovic, Williams, and the likes of Wright, Rush, Thompson haven’t provided the same boost. the open court game isn’t likely to evolve until Jackson resolves his combinations with the reserve guards and wings. he didn’t even give Jenkins his first meaningful minutes until Phx.

    the schedule remaining this month is likely to expose the team further. getting six of the fourteen would probably be a good outcome.

    • after reading this article, which was more about how Brown is/was perceived than about the man, one can appreciate what clever cons some writers can be or try to be. Kang starts out sounding like he’s aware how much fans project fantasies and hopes onto the players, but in the end only gives Brown one practice and a short interview to give an appearance of objectivity amidst the litany of failed expectations. The article eloquently illustrates how and why pro athletes are alienated by the media that markets them.

      • And I just read Kang’s piece. Dead on, moto. Read Jenkins’s piece for some perspective. Kang’s pov appears elsewhere, with similar effects.

    • What a coincidence. Someone just emailed me Sally Jenkins’s essay, with the same title as this post–“Growing Pains.” You can find the first page here:

      but apparently the next page link is dead. I have the whole thing and may put up excerpts when I read it.

      Sally Jenkins is a terrific writer. I read her book “The Real All Americans,” about the Carlisle Institute and their Native American football team–starring Jim Thorpe. Strongly recommended–it’s a great read, a great story.

    • Brown has learned one thing in life. From Jenkins’s article:

      “Brown has been lectured and scolded and instructed, advised. And, perhaps, warped. The voices have overwhelmed him. They run together, all of them telling him what is best for him. ‘Most people,’ he says,’ are wrong.'”

  9. Curry was spectacular tonight until he went down. Monta was terrific. This is the best stretch he’s played. Period. DWright is lost in America and Rush and even Thompson should be getting his pt. Having said that, I thought both coaches did a nice job tonight. We just had no offense from anyone but Monta/Steph again.

    I like Udoh fine but he’s looking like he’s going to develop into a good bu 4. We needed a 5 when we drafted Udoh over Monroe. Riley thought Udoh had more athleticism even if he was more of a 4. Monroe went for 19 pts, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 block tonight in 38 mins. against the Bulls. He appears to be a star center in the making. I didn’t watch that game, but I’d say it’s past time for ownership to re-evaluate Larry Riley as GM.

  10. Another Warriors game, another depressing loss. You get the feeling after watching Curry continue to barely tweak his foot in games (last night and earlier in Sac) yet almost collapse in pain that even if they keep him out a month he’ll be back on crutches within a week of returning.

    It’s a shame but for the first time I’d seriously consider trading him if you could ever keep him healthy enough for a couple of weeks to where other teams wouldn’t be afraid of dealing and giving back equal talent. One thing’s for sure, if it wasn’t for buzzard’s luck the Warriors wouldn’t have any luck at all. Happy New Year! LOL

  11. You get the feeling after watching Curry continue to barely tweak his foot…that even if they keep him out a month he’ll be back on crutches within a week of returning.

    Agreed, Steve. Saw the twist happen then immediately thought his season/career is done. Of course, I do tend to jump off bridges way too soon. But I really don’t know how else to look at this.

    Any other thoughts/opinions? Anyone?

    • Is there a doctor in the house?

    • Saw Curry hurt his ankle and limp off the floor, acting like he was headed for the amputation tent. The same night, I saw LeBron land on someone’s foot, get hurt and continue to play . Yes, LeBron’s out of his game tonight, but I’m beginning to wonder if this Curry kid needs to grow up. It’s a sprain, for pete’s sake. The sad-little-boy face is not a good look.

  12. Curry’s ankle problem is completely dispiriting. And somehow completely fitting for the Warriors.

    But the Warriors problems go way deeper than the loss of Curry. I am completely unable to recap at the moment, out of profound embarrassment and incredulity over the direction of this franchise. I’m working on a rant that I need to get off my chest first, that may take me several days to cobble together. Apologies for the continued silence.

    It’s apoplexy.

  13. Last night made me miss C.J. Watson. . . .

    This team can be competitive with either Curry or Ellis alone, if built and run correctly. We have seen this. With both of them together, they could be a serious playoff threat. But there’s no way they can count all the time on the brilliant play by both of them together, as we saw the first half last night.

    My main thought last night was that they didn’t have anyone off the bench to help on offense, though I suspect some adjustments needed to be made last quarter, and I hope you can help us out here, FB. Last night, the only plan that made sense to me was give the ball to Ellis.

    But the last thing I want to see this season is a repeat of the last, where Ellis is putting in heavy minutes and carrying the load, really in desperation, with no better result than another mediocre season. Better to bring the others up and see what they can do, maybe see what the team can add with intelligent trades.

    Jackson made me gag in his postgame comments. I’m tired of hearing about energy, etc. I want to hear someone talk about the game and strategy. And if he’s going to have any hope, he has to feel free to experiment until he gets it right–and be free to take some losses in the process. Otherwise, he’ll end up in the same trap Smart was in last season, ratcheting himself into a narrow plan motivated by fear of losing.

  14. without knowing the details of the ligament surgery performed over the summer on Curry’s ankle, guesses will be more un-educated than ever. from the relatively brief recovery and rehab time, it probably was not major reconstruction involving ligament replacement. if it was only a minor repair, then they still have options left for more involved procedures that would of course erase the season.

    with the severely truncated preseason and limited practice sessions, it looks like Jackson has to do his roster/rotation evaluation the hard way, in the games that count. very few coaches possess Nelson’s great ability to very quickly assess players and their capabilities for his intentions, and it looks like guys like Wright and Thompson are being granted extended probations, Smith or Biedrins much less so. Udoh also seems to be on a somewhat ‘short leash’. ’tis difficult to rationalize the relatively light minutes for McGuire, even so.

  15. rgg: Jackson put himself into the Keith Smart “win now” bind as soon as he guaranteed that this team would make the playoffs this year, correct? And Lacob put the entire franchise in it by making a similar promise before that. I don’t get it.

    I feel bad for Westphall. But at least Keith Smart at head coach for the rest of this year should make the Kings appreciate Westphall by the end of the season.

    • Was the Westphall firing motivated by problems with Cousins? If so, sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Wow, Smart’s got his work cut out for him now.

    • For Warriors fans, the essence of this story is in the first words of paragraph #7: “Far from frontrunners……”, meaning the Warriors chances are slim and probably none. The story makes sense for only one reason — an effort by Howard’s agent to scare the Lakers or Mavs into making a deal sooner rather than later. “League sources,” my rear end.

  16. Damn hard to be warriors fan. First two quarters you see a highlight reel. Fastbreak. Overall energy – i even thought they get to 100 at last.
    And then bam! Curry injury, again. Ankles are tough thing. I had one almost torn off in a basketball game, couldn’t walk for two days. And did not play basketball for about 1,5 years. Now it’s fine, wouldn’t think it ever happened. But can Curry wait for whole season? If it doesn’t work, oh, man, such a waste of talent.
    After Curry’s injury warriors stopped and settled into that dreadful zone, thus making themselves prey to being eaten by threes. Then Ellis, whom we needed to have a chance to win, was chasing Parker and getting his last legs exhausted. Some different defensive approach was needed. And what was Kwame doing in the end? Shooting freethrows!
    Where was Rush, since obviously Wright was not doing anything much – has he regressed due to defense and half court offense philosophy taking over?
    Lee looked under the weather, but still used too much as a post offense in which he is not so good.
    I seriously think that this team can’t win with current FO/coaching strategy. They are not bangers. They should be free flyers. And freeflyers are best team players on current roster. Mixing them with bangers/no flyers (ala kwame, udoh, biedrins, who had one nice soaring above the rim, btw) makes for a strange hybrid. Like putting bad-asss tuning on a fast running car with a plan to make it somehow transform itself into buldozer.
    I might consider to be done with this team this year. Too little adrenalin, too much stress.