Memphis Blues: Grizzlies 91 Warriors 90

Oh, Mama, can this really be the end?
To be stuck inside of Mobile 
With the Memphis blues again.  – Bob Dylan

The Warriors franchise hit absolute rock bottom tonight.  Which means it’s time for Feltbot to look at everything that was encouraging about this game.

Yes, I’m serious.  I’m a bit of a contrarian, but it’s not about that.  I am also notoriously early on my calls — that’s how you make money — but it’s not really about that either. Well, maybe a little bit. What it’s really about is that I saw a lot of improvement in the Warriors in this game.  Yes, I’m serious.

Starting with the fact that they tried to win the game. By which I mean, Mark Jackson tried to win the game. By actually playing the style of basketball that this roster was built to play.

Mark Jackson:  Coach Jackson might be turning a corner with regard to the Warriors’ style of play.  For the second game in a row, the Warriors broadcasters stated that pushing the pace and generating early offense were points of focus for the Warriors.  I think we can assume those talking points are coming from Jackson.

And unlike the Pacers game, in this game, those talking points were actually put into action.  I saw a lot more pace to the play of the Warriors starting unit to start this game, as the Warriors jumped on Memphis early.

And I thought Jackson did a great job with the Warriors rotations.  I loved the fact that he didn’t return with Biedrins in the fourth quarter, but made the commitment to match up small for small and offense for offense in the fourth quarter. That will be a winning choice on a lot of nights going forward.

His players just didn’t get it done on this night.  As Nellie would have said: “Their smalls were better than our smalls.”

The Memphis Grizzlies:  Before going into your well-deserved fit of apoplexy over the play of the Warriors backcourt, you should stop for a moment and give some credit to the Grizzlies.  This team is for real. They are legit. And they are getting better.

Mike Conley and Marc Gasol broke out in last year’s playoffs.  I think Conley clearly outplayed the “allstar,” Russell Westbrook.  He is just a tremendously assured player, and a team leader on both sides of the ball.

Gasol was also incredibly good in last year’s playoffs.  And now he’s legitimately great.

Yes, I’ll go there.  I think he’s the second best center in the league.  Don’t laugh. He was the Western Conference Player of the Week this past week. And he’s currently the 8th ranked player in fantasy basketball: 15 and 11, along with 3 assists and 2.5 blocks and other goodies.  I’m particularly well-disposed towards him since he’s kept my Stephen Curry-led fantasy team afloat through Ankle-Gate. (Oh yes, I scooped Gasol in the fourth round.)

Fantasy basketball just gives you an inkling of the stats Gasol’s putting up. Unlike Greg Monroe, he’s about more than just the stats. He’s a winning basketball player, the anchor of the Grizzlies defense, and a terrific pick-setter and facilitator on offense.

The pundits are going to start noticing soon that Gasol’s a legitimately great center. Just as soon as someone like Jeff van Gundy tells them.

We haven’t even gotten to Zach Randolph, who’s out this year, and Rudy Gay, who was out last year.

Nor Tony Allen, who as the premier defensive wing in the league has had a huge impact on the Grizzlies identity. (Does anyone else find it curious that the ex-Celtic whom Joe Lacob busted a gut trying to get was the completely overrated Kendrick Perkins, and not Tony Allen? Lacob let the Grizzlies scoop up Allen for peanuts, while he was busy signing Jeremy Lin and tanking, errrr… preparing for the lockout.)

Tony Allen won this game for the Grizzlies.  He was the guy who took on Monta Ellis single-handedly and won.  The guy who shook his team by the ears and said, “Let’s go!”

He would have looked great in a Warriors uniform.

Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry:  Our stars got absolutely steamrolled by the ferocious defensive pressure of Conley and Allen in this game.  12 turnovers: ball game.

Don’t panic.  This kind of play won’t last.  I remember an almost identical thing happened a year or so ago against the tremendous wing pressure of Westbrook and Sefalosha of the Thunder.  They picked apart the Warriors wing entry passes and dominated the Warriors backcourt.

It didn’t last. Curry and Ellis have owned the Thunder’s backcourt ever since that game.  And they will own the Grizzlies backcourt in the future.

What needs to change?  Well, first, obviously, Curry needs to get his conditioning back.  This may take several weeks.  Second, Curry needs to knock the rust off his game.  And third, Curry and Ellis need to re-establish their chemistry in Mark Jackson’s system.

Who knows how long that will take?  Because Mark Jackson, at least up until now, has not been too clear himself what his system will be.  Are the Warriors going to pound the ball inside to the Kwame Brown Era, or use guard play? Walk the ball up the court, or push the pace?

There were positive signs in this game that that fatal indecision is getting resolved.

With one minor quibble:  Against aggressive and defensively talented, ball-denying wings like Conley and Allen, the Warriors cannot initiate isolation with a simple wing entry.  They need to start with a high pick and roll, penetrate and swing the ball.  So on the possessions they want Monta to initiate, they have to let him bring the ball up.

You know, like the Mavs did with JJ Barea against the Heat in the Finals. Anyone on the Warriors staff watch that tape?

That would have eliminated at least half of the backcourt’s turnovers.

The Nightmare:  Another huge positive in this game.  Please take another look at the sequence that began at 7:15 2nd Q:

1) Udoh/ Nate Robinson pick and roll.  Yes, yes, yes!  It took over a year to get to a play that Don Nelson would have run from day one.  Did you see how wide open that play was?

It wasn’t pretty, Udoh was a little slow to roll, but Nate completed the pass, Udoh picked it up with no problem and finished. More please!

2) Udoh challenges Gasol’s shot, and on the miss TRIED TO BEAT HIM DOWNCOURT.

Yes, yes, yes!  This is how Ekpe Udoh can beat big centers!  Come to think of it, this is how David Lee and Andris Biedrins have beaten big centers. And can again. Yes!

It didn’t work on this play.  Gasol ran with him, there wasn’t much separation, and the pass was deflected.

But ask yourself this: would Gasol have run with the Warriors centers the fifth time they tried to beat him downcourt? The sixth? Don Nelson would have found out the answer to that question. That’s the question he asked of Eric Dampier, back when we believed.

On this night, though, I will take some small encouragement from Mark Jackson’s baby steps in the right direction.

3) At 6:35, with Udoh now matched against Haddadi, the Warriors iso’d Udoh on the left midpost. Udoh faced Haddadi up, and dribbled right around him to the rim.

Yes, yes, yes!  Isn’t this what I have been arguing for?  Ekpe Udoh is a high-post center.  He’s more mobile than the guys guarding him, and he’s a very good (and very under-utilized) passer.

This wasn’t technically the high-post, but it would work equally well there. And Udoh didn’t actually finish this play, he missed the bunny.  He was so wide open at the rim though, that he forced the rotation, which opened up the offensive rebound putback for Dom.

4) Later in the game, Udoh faced up against Marc Gasol on the right wing. Drew him out of the lane, and buried an 18 footer in his face. Yes. Yes. Yes.

These four plays represent the way that Don Nelson would have played Ekpe Udoh from the very first day he set foot on the floor.  Just like the way he played another rookie by the name of Anthony Randolph, remember?

Udoh is a lot better basketball player than Anthony Randolph.  And I caution all those people who have been so quick to label Udoh a bust, and an inferior player to Greg Monroe.

You have never seen Udoh play.

Not the way he was supposed to be played.  Not the way Don Nelson drafted him to be played.

Until tonight.

And that’s where I’m going to leave this game. On an upnote.

…. No, sorry, I can’t resist.  I’m going to let my landsman Robert Zimmerman sing us out:

And here I sit so patiently
Waiting to find out what price
You have to pay to get out of
Going through all these things twice.
Oh, Mama, is this really the end?
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again.

43 Responses to Memphis Blues: Grizzlies 91 Warriors 90

  1. Feltbot,

    This was the best coached game by Mark Jackson, the lost was not on him, rather it was on Curry and Monta. Classic meltdown. They finally went small for a large part of the game. Loved it when Mcquire the Dominator was the 5. Warriors simply became rattled in the fourth quarter and lost, but oh was it fun for three quarters!

    Brandon Rush despite his causing one of the turnovers in the 4th (when he avoided a charge by throwing the ball away), continues to play real well. Is he not a spread 4? Hitting over 50% of his threes? He needs more minutes. Nate had a wonderful first half with his consistent hustle plays and the majority of his six assists. His hustle is incredible. And the fans love him. He is a keeper for next year, no matter what Matt says.

    Finally, you like Gasol, but the fact is he had 10 points in the first half when he was effective, then when the Dubs were running, he literally ran out of gas not making it back for defense several times. He was held to five points the remainder of the game, and Hollins was forced to put in Haddadi because Gasol was ‘gassed’. Speights was effective in the 2nd half because of Warrior poor interior defense (+1), but it was Gasol with a -4. The Warriors ran him off the court, just like we are supposed to. Dubs easily made Haddadi looked flustered as well, I guess you cannot teach height!

    I do agree about Tony Allen and Connely, clearly more poised than our guards Curry and Monta. Curry was the volume shooter tonight, he looked frisky all game, and it was good to see him more sure of his ankle, but he actually took several bad shots. No problem with the early offense, but off balance is not the usual method for him. Unusual for Steph to be sure.

    Udoh definitely needs to have a shooters camp in the offseason. Thompson is improving his percentage on his shots and is knock down when he is open. Your point about his rebounds has me noting one rebound! You are correct, it is not a priority as he is out of position to even be near the ball, it is not a priority. But his shot? Great.

    But your theme about Mark Jackson is correct, he went small and it went well for three quarters. I am not sure it is a pattern until we see it for five games though. Maybe it was because Lacob wasnt at the game, and it was like the kid goofing off while his parents arent home?

  2. Sorry, but I’m taking “The 5th” on last night’s game.

    Around the rest of the league………

    http://nba-point-forward.si.com/2012/01/23/monday-musings-what-weve-learned-through-the-quarter-mark-of-the-season/?sct=hp_wr_a2&eref=sihp

  3. felt, I agree about Udoh’s game and Curry’s conditioning–also, he needs to get that ankle strong enough so he can loosen his ankle brace–it’s painful to watch him hobble up the court. For the first time this season, I am officially on Jackson-watch, however. Sometimes a coach needs call a timeout to stem the wave and get in his players’ faces to get their attention and right the ship. Jackson’s passive bench approach can’t work all of the time. It’s not a lesson in Zen–this is War out there. I need to see some real-time game management from the coach. What happened last night in the fourth quarter should not happen to a well-coached team at home.

  4. Felty: Even with all the turnovers in the fourth quarter, with the Warriors lead dwindling, they needed to have Udoh guarding the rim. They should have pulled D.Wright. I think the best fourth quarter line-up is Curry, Ellis, Rush, Lee, and Udoh, unless D.Wright is hot shooting the ball.

    Glad to see Udoh putting arc on his jump shot and the Warriors going to driving to the hoop. At Baylor, he was terrific driving the hoop from the post, and not settling for a jump shot.

    Rush needs to take 10 plus shots per game, not six.

    Even though Robinson pushes the offense, his life-long problem making bad passes and decision-making continues. The Warriors should be playing Jenkins some of Robinson’s mintues, if not all, and integrating him into the offense.

    Agree totally with Our Team’s description of Jackson being passive on the sidelines.

  5. Feltbot,

    They had to keep scoring 4th. quarter. Shouldn’t they have pushed the tempo, and, since Curry and Ellis were well covered, looked elsewhere for scoring, specifically Rush and Wright if they couldn’t get to Lee? That was why they were on the floor.

  6. Also I’m wondering if they couldn’t have staggered Ellis and Curry, especially when the 2nd. unit faltered second half. You once made a comment one of them should always be on the floor.

  7. rgg, yes I noticed Curry and Ellis are off the floor at the same time, and I noticed that Nate got yanked early in his second half stint for his careless turnovers. I believe they should be staggered, with Ellis playing backup point. But where does that leave Nate?

    The Warriors had severe problems simply initiating their offense last night. That’s on the coaches. They needed high pick and roll, as I suggested, or perhaps the guard screen that Portland employs, described in Steve’s link @2.

    Once the offense is initiated, neither Curry nor Ellis have difficulty finding the open man.

    • “How about this? Last year, under the universally scorned Keith Smart, the Warriors point-differential was -2.3. Under the universally admired Mark Jackson, the Warriors point-differential is -5.3.”

      Well that point differential is already down to -3.6

      I love how you manipulated the numbers. Next time compare them after the season is over instead of just 10 games. During which the Warriors had the 4th toughest schedule in the NBA.

      The one number you can’t manipulate is Don Nelson has ZERO NBA TITLES as a head coach.

    • The Warriors are probably best off running the offense through D-Lee in the high post in the 4th quarter. The pass to Lee flashing to the high post is easy and forces the defense to collapse on the wings. Also, a few back door passes from Lee to a cutting Ellis or Curry would almost certainly open things up on the outside.

  8. I’m thinking (guessing) ball movement. Even when Ellis or Curry didn’t turn the ball over, they were getting trapped. Against this kind of defense the ball can’t stay too long in anyone’s hands. Initiate offense early, passing before they cross the half court line, to Rush or Wright if necessary, who can swing the ball out again (and neither is probably ready for that).

  9. Trying to take a high-altitude view, I see two problems this season:

    1) the new coaching staff has had only 18 games (including pre-season) to implement its system (whatever that system is). Not nearly enough time.

    2) the team has played probably 17 of those games while missing at least one key player, sometimes two, due to injury, illness, etc. Another blow to system implementation.

    No team could coalesce with these obstacles. And this doesn’t even count the limitations of the roster.

    I’m trying to keep the big picture in mind as my interest in this season — which held up in the hope Curry’s return would make a difference — plummets to a new low after last night’s appalling loss. It’s small consolation that they played better in the first three quarters. The obvious panic in the fourth quarter will be a difficult memory to erase.

    Big picture, big picture, big picture….

  10. Thanks Feltbot!

    Easy to notice the late turnovers and missed shots. But with David Lee at center (and his usual foul trouble), the opposing team attacked the rim at will for easy layups. Udoh is the only player who seems interested in protecting the rim by blocking shots and needs to get more time at Center when this happens. Lee and Andris seem like they’re in constant foul trouble anyways.

    If the W’s are going to have the defensively challenged Curry, Ellis, and Lee on the court at the same time, I’d like to see Mark Jackson put them with Rush and Udoh in as they actually play NBA defense.

    Rush needs teammates who will set him up for his spot up shot. Rush’s handle is horrible. D. Wright’s handle is not any better.

  11. “The Warriors are slowing it down this season, and coach Mark Jackson is not too happy about it.”

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/24/SPQO1MT570.DTL

    • “…the Warriors have plenty of other guys who are capable of leading a break…swingman Dorell Wright has the necessary ball-handling skills and passing ability.”

      Uh, Rusty, have you ever actually SEEN Dorell try to lead a break?

    • “The Magic’s 87-56 loss to the Boston Celtics on Monday night still bothered Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy late Tuesday afternoon.

      “When you go to a game like that and you, as a coach, can’t find any answers, yeah, it’s going to eat at you for a long time,” Van Gundy said.

      “Even after tonight’s game that one will eat at me. It will eat at me probably in July, August, September, the year 2013, ’14, ’15.”

      THAT is a no-excuses coach. Mark Jackson, please take note.

  12. Hindsight is easy, of course. Here’s some:

    Curry and Ellis played 37 and 36 minutes, respectively. Both got slow and sloppy by the end of the game. For a running game the Warriors could maybe have gotten more than 12 minutes from Robinson, or used Jenkins for spot minutes. It’s great to have Rush on the floor, but he’s no PG.

    It would also have been nice to have Ish Smith last night! If the Warriors can’t/won’t use Barron, can we get Ish back?

    McGuire is great! But he should never shoot anything but layups! Maybe not even those!

    Feltby, you’ve got to be right, something is very wrong with Biedrins. In the pregame show they said he had 20 points last year against the Grizzlies. From his play on Monday that’s hard to even imagine. 16 minutes, 3 fouls and 0 pts. from a starting center!

    Great to see Jackson use Udoh offensively as something other than a last-option dump-off. He looks far better in a motion play than when trying to create his own shot with a short clock. That’s a challenge for any player, and it has probably made him look worse than he really is.

    It’s also nice to see that Jackson reads your blog. How else to explain his sudden conversion to smallball? OK, it’s possible that the Warriors brain trust figured it out on their own, in their own way. Maybe it signifies that the coaches have given up any hope of quality minutes from Barron or Tyler this season. But still, however they got to feel the need for speed, it’s a big philosophical changeup from all those games lost pining for Kwame. Let’s give you credit for that, Felty. What the heck.

  13. An important factor in evaluating Biedrins play against Memphis is how the team played with him on the courtThe Warriors played extremely well during his limited minutes of play, even though he did not score, nor garner many rebounds.

    As Memphis shotonly 6-23 (26%), from the field during Biedrins 16 minutes of play, which is part of the reason the Warriors outscored Memphis by 12 points during his 16 minutes. He carried out his defensive duties by defending the rim.

    So who cares that he only garnered 2 defensive rebounds. Memphis poor shooting demonstrates his contribution to the Warriors doing well when he played. His lack of rebounds is virtually meaningless.

  14. Steve and Chapeau Blanc @13:

    Nelson himself, in his interview after he, uh, retired, said that the best way to keep the small two guard front court of Ellis and Curry was to have a swing forward. The roster is a bad compromise of competing philosophies where neither won. Lacob didn’t come close to the kind of big front court team he wanted, and in trying to get an anti-Nelson squad, he hobbled the team of offensive flexibility and power. Not Jackson’s fault.

    We can only wonder which way the team will go next, but it’s hard not to suspect more bad compromises.

    • Bad compromises. RGG that is a brilliant phrase that describes the last 20 years as a Warriors fan. Outside of We Believe, Warriors fans, like myself have had to deal with Bad Compromises over and over again. Starting with C-Webb leaving, it’s been smack in the face after smack in the face. I’m afraid that we’re in for another lost season because of the latest Bad Compromise that you mentioned above.

    • I’m puzzled, rgg. No one’s blaming Jackson for the roster. And the Warriors do have a swing forward/guard, Brandon Rush.

      • Sorry, no, you’re not blaming Jackson. Yes, Rush is the obvious candidate–but is he being used that way? I’m just trying to figure out why they’re not scoring more down the stretch. Another 16 point quarter.

  15. Disappointing players and teams from ESPN’s 5-on-5 (Sac and GSW both make their lists).

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/page/5-on-5-120124/nba-most-disappointing-players-teams

  16. 33-33

    • So…let’s see…add this, subtract that, carry the one… Wow! The Warriors are going to win 28 of the next 50 games! That’s great!

  17. “What would you do about the Warriors?”

    http://www.csnbayarea.com/blog/warriors-talk/post/What-would-you-do-about-the-Warriors?blockID=637730&feedID=5882

    Will the Dubs win another game this season? If they don’t beat Portland tonight, probably not. The Blazers are playing their 3rd game in as many nights, not to mention that Oracle has always been a house of horrors for them. Win or else time for GSW.

  18. Q & A with Joe Lacob (Kawakami)

    —————————————

    -Q: You had high hopes, so how disappointing is it to be sitting at 5-11?

    -LACOB: It is disappointing. I think everyone knew the one big risk in this season was that it’s a compressed schedule, no training camp to speak of, not a real one, no summer camp for guys like Ekpe Udoh.

    With a new coaching staff, in fact an entire new organization, there was always that risk of a slow start, perhaps. Not that I’m blaming any of this on that.

    So a little bit disappointed certainly up to this point. I think mostly because we’ve been in so many games, it’s just an odd way to lose.

    Of the 11 losses, I think in nine we’ve either been tied or ahead in the fourth quarter. I think that’s close. That’s the part that’s really disappointing. We have been playing some good basketball, we just don’t have he ability so ftr to close quarters and close games.

    -Q: You’ve been vocal saying this is a good roster. Are you still convinced this roster is good enough to compete, as is, for a playoff spot?

    -LACOB: It’s hard to say “convinced” when you’re 5-11. But I do believe in our guys. I do think we have a lot more talent than our record indicates.

    I think our coaching staff really, under the circumstances, is doing a good job. But clearly we’ve having some issues and we need to address them. We all are—Larry Riley, Bob Myers, Mark Jackson, Michael Malone… we’re all addressing them and discussing the issues and figuring out how we rectify things..

    -Q: So how do you rectify things?

    -LACOB: I think it’s been 16 games. Though the fans are disappointed, though I am disappointed, though we’re all disappointed, Mark Jackson and his staff, and the players are all disappointed…

    But we’re not going to panic. I still think it’s early, 16 games in. Other teams are having problems, too.

    How about the New York Knicks? They went out and got another big acquisition, but that doesn’t seem to be working, at least so far. The Celtics are off to a slow start. The Lakers are only 10-8.

    So I don’t want to panic. Obviously, it’s not what we were hoping for. We are all disappointed. Every day we’re on the phones to other teams, talking about possible moves. You’re always doing that, exploring things, keeping the lines of communication open.

    At some point, could we make a move? Yes, to improve our team. But it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll occur.

    -Q: The one big very questionable decision I can point to is using the amnesty on Charlie Bell and not on a bigger deal. Do you regret that move now?

    -LACOB: You can always look at things… there are certainly people that were critical of that, thinking we should’ve used it on another contract or saved it.

    We considered all those options and we felt by doing what we did we had the best chance of going after, it’s been well-chronicled, the two free-agent centers we went after. We wanted to have enough money to go after them—DeAndre Jordan is a talented young center and that was a big contract we offered him; obviously they matched.

    The alternate would’ve been to amnesty a bigger contract–without getting into names, that would’ve been a big man, right?

    And the problem is we still lost the DeAndre Jordan in the bidding and we would have not had a center. It was too big of a risk to do that.

    You can question it and certainly we could’ve gone a couple different ways; I feel we made the right decision at the time. You can’t amnesty a contract that comes to the roster in the future.

    -Q: But of the two other amnesty options you had…

    -LACOB: One of them certainly has more value than you’d want to lose in an amnesty, in my opinion. That would’ve been insane.

    The other one, there was too much risk to do that. He has value. I just feel that for us in our situation it was the right move at the time.

    -Q: You’ve repeatedly said the Warriors will be making big moves. Were there moves available to you in the off-season, I’m talking about Chris Paul (though I know you can’t say his name), that you could’ve been more aggressive with?

    -LACOB: We have been extremely aggressive in free agency. I think everyone understands that and we will continue to be that way and we are positioned for next summer to do that again. We will continue to be very aggressive in that respect..

    I can’t comment on specific names, we were very…

    [CELLPHONE DROP. CONVERSATION CONTINUES AFTER I CALL HIM BACK.]

    All I was trying to say is that there’s a lot of different reasons you can make a trade or not make a trade.

    Let’s just say we have to overcome two decades of not being an attractive place to be. We think it’s different now–we’re making it an attractive place to be. Very attractive.

    But that isn’t obvious to everybody yet. You’re making assumptions we could’ve made a trade—yes, we could‘ve made the trade, but we may not have been able to convince a player to be here. When you’re giving up a ton to get him, you can’t necessarily [CELLPHONE DROP] …

    We’re doing everything we can, It’s just not an easy thing to do to get a great player here. We will succeed eventually, whether that’s now, a month from now, a year from now, I can’t say.

    We’re going to keep being aggressive. But it’s nothing you can legislate. I try to explain this to fans when I talk to them: You can’t dictate that someone can come here.

    -Q: How do you assess Mark Jackson so far?

    -LACOB: I love Mark Jackson. I think he’s an outstanding individual and an outstanding coach in the NBA. He’s going to be an outstanding coach. He’s learning.

    I think he’s had some growing pains. I think he’d be first to admit it… He’s learning his roster. He clearly has to adjust to certain things and learn–not everybody can perform like he wants them to perform.

    I think he’s really done everything right, within the confines of the roster we’ve given him and the amount of preparation time he had.

    We’ve started slower than … but it’s not as if we’re getting blown out of every game; we’re in almost every game.

    We’ve lost a few games that clearly we got beaten by, have to own up to that. Certainly in Charlotte, that’s a bad team on the road, that’s a game we should’ve won. We clearly were beaten.

    But we’ve beaten some really good team like Miami and Chicago, and been in a lot of other games

    The guys are competing hard. We’re making a lot mistakes. Those mistakes have to be corrected either by teaching or repetition. And if player can’t make those corrections at some point, then we have to think about changing things.

    I’m firmly behind Mark Jackson and his staff.

    -Q: Do you believe you’ve over-estimated talent on this roster from the beginning of your ownership? I’ve said it before and I’ve tweaked you about it recently. Isn’t it just over-optimism on your part to think this is a good team?

    -LACOB: Well, as of today, you have a better argument position than I do. We’re 5-11. We can’t hide from that.

    We have not closed games. We have not performed to the expectations we as an ownership group and management have for this team.

    Can’t hide from that. You want to print that, print that. We’ll take our blows and we’ll just move on here, see if we can’t rectify the situation and prove we were right. If not, we’ll admit we’re wrong and move on.

    -Q: When do you make that decision? I mean, this same starting unit was not great last year, either. Are you waiting too long to make that call to change things?

    -LACOB: Last year was a very different situation. We inherited what we had last year.

    People say we didn’t change the starting lineup, and that’s true. But we have changed the supporting line-up, the second unit, quite a lot. Our bench is far superior to last year, with a lot of youth associated to it.

    It’ll take a little time for those guys to mature—Klay Thompson and Charles Jenkins have shown flashes. They’re going to get better. But these are guys who have come in and give some good peroforrmances and shown some real skill.

    You have to look beyond the record sometimes and say, all right, take apart the pieces and what do you have here? We have a lot.

    Kwame Brown’s injury definitely hurt us a lot. The one thing we really needed to add a lot was interior defense. We’re very soft defensive in the middle everyone knows that.

    And we did add some with Kwame Brown, maybe not our first choice but he did a heckuva job and was getting better and better and it was terribly bad break when we lost him.

    But the bench is better.

    I think our approach is better, but the record is not. Obviously we’ve got to fix that.. I don’t know if that’s another 10 games or whether that’s a whole season; we’ll evaluate it as it goes and see how it goes.

    Hey, aren’t you going to ask me your usual question? (Laughs.)

    -Q: Umm… you mean about David Lee?

    -LACOB: I should say two usual questions, one of them is David Lee. You’d have to say he’s been very good this year.

    -Q: Good at times, not good at times, that’s what I’d say.

    -LACOB: I’m an advocate of David Lee.

    -Q: I knew that. So the other question being…

    -LACOB: The can-Monta-and-Steph-be-a-winning-combination question.

    -Q: Yes, how about that one?

    -LACOB: That is going to be a question everyone’s going to ask until we’re shown to be a victorious team.

    I think we did add some size on the backcourt, but it’s young–with Klay, Brandon Rush can play the 2 and 3. I think the size issue has sort of been addressed.

    But I think the guys do have to perform at a higher level than they have in terms of taking care of the ball and leading us on the floor.

  19. White Hat @19 (and Feltbot?)

    Actually, what I’m wondering is if they shouldn’t move Rush to starter over Wright. Do they gain on defense? At any rate, Rush isn’t shy to drive and obviously isn’t having problems shooting. I like Wright a great deal. But he’s been tentative, and maybe playing there will help him build back some aggressiveness against weaker defenders.

    I just checked their numbers. I was surprised they weigh about the same and Wright is taller. (Length?) Rush looks bigger and tougher.

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