Three Straight: Warriors 102 Suns 96

Anyone else sense a little momentum building for this too small, too soft to win Warriors team?  A few quick thoughts on the Phoenix game:                  

— The play of the game for me was Ekpe Udoh’s decision to take his own shot (left hook off the dribble) in crunch time rather than pass back to Ellis. The first time we’ve seen that kind of confidence from Udoh, and an indication that he now considers himself a full-fledged member of the finishing unit. A huge development for the team.

— Words can’t describe how bad a decision Mark Jackson made when he called timeout with the Warriors on a runout with two Suns completely out of the play. I of course startled the Thaiblonde out of her blankets with some regrettable epithets, and then Jim Barnett followed up by subtly questioning the decision a few plays later.  Thank you, Jim Barnett.

It is idiotic to take your team out of a fast break simply because you think it’s time to slow the tempo. Especially when it really isn’t the time to slow the tempo, with a full 3:55 left in the game and only a 5 to 7 point lead against the Phoenix Suns.

The one mitigating factor is that Jackson was desperate to get Nate Robinson off the floor, and I really can’t blame him for feeling that way. But it was still a terrible, over-controlling rookie decision.  In the middle of a two man advantage, you have to trust your players. Even Nate Robinson.

— We saw the good Nate last night, until that last TO. I continue to feel that Nate’s difficulties are emotional in nature. He’s always looking for the homerun instead of the single. He needs the crowds’ love and attention more than he needs a win.

— Markieff Morris has been really up and down lately, as have been his minutes. Gentry is playing him with the finishing unit though, and we saw flashes of the reasons why in this game. He spreads the floor and can also get you a jump hook in the paint.  He did a much better job staying in front of David Lee than the Suns other bigs.

I’m wondering if his recent struggles have anything to do with those heavy wraps on his knees? We may not know the full story there.

— If Klay Thompson truly is a two-way player — and he looked pretty good in this game, albeit against terrible opposing guards — then there will no longer be any debate about the draft pick. He’s going to be elite at his position offensively. As I have predicted — for those of you who think I’m a hater — from day one.

— I liked Mark Jackson’s creativity with his lineups last night. One note: When you’re going small, with say DWright on Channing Frye, and Gentry is trying to make you pay for it with post-ups, then FLIP THE SWITCH: Make Gentry pay for it on the other end with DWright iso face-ups. Frye can’t guard that, as we saw on the exactly one play that was called for Wright, which he finished for the And One.

— Amnesty David Lee?  Mark Jackson recently stated in a post-game that Biedrins is the Warriors’ only “legitimate” center.  Does that mean that Bill Russell (6-9″ 215 lbs) — whom Ekpe Udoh increasingly resembles, in defense if not in rebounding — was not legitimate?  How about the guy who ripped out Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s heart in the 1974 Finals, Dave Cowens (6-9″, 230)?  Was two-time champion Dave Cowens — of whom David Lee is the living, breathing reincarnation — a legitimate center?

I wonder how long the Warriors brass will stick with this line if the team that Don Nelson built continues to gel.

I can guess: right up until the moment Joe Lacob renders the question moot by trading Monta Ellis.

60 Responses to Three Straight: Warriors 102 Suns 96

  1. I do believe that D.Lee is a better center than Biedrins on both sides of the court, but only if McGuire is alongside.

    D.Lee is not the reincarnation of Dave Cowens. Cowens could block shots and more importantly provide both interior and perimeter help. D. Lee cannot do either. One can only speculate as to whom Nellie would play at center, but in my opinion, he would play mostly Udoh at center.

    When Jackson went with Bieddrins, D.Lee, or another player at center other than Udoh, Phoenix shot 25 for 33 from the floor. Such is totally unacceptable. With Udoh playing center, Phoenix shot 13-39 or 33% from the floor. I can’t believe that Jackson did not play him more than 22 minutes, and allowed Biedrins to remain on court even after Phoenix made it’s first eight of twelve shots.

    Jackson still refuses to have the Warriors run.

    • Agreed Frank – why Udoh doesn’t get all the minutes at PF/C alongside David Lee doesn’t make any sense to me. Unfortunately, Udoh puts up nothing for stats – but changes shots/blocks shots and protects the rim. When Udoh goes in the game, +/-. The tide moves into the Warriors favor.

  2. I like the overall analysis, but I have a nitpick (as usual):

    Cowens played 30-40 years ago when players were much less athletic than today. As a result, I can’t see a valid comparison about center play between Cowens and David Lee, even though they’re about the same height and weight.

    To quote a favorite Felty line, stats lie — in this case, height and weight across generations. Further back in the ’50s and ’60s, for example, Lee would have been an unstoppable beast for all but a handful of pro or college teams (USF with Russell being one of the few).

  3. I really hope Klay Thompson is chosen to participate in the 3-point contest. The kid is shooting 50% from deep.

  4. Blame where blame is due:

    So I complimented Bob Fitzgerald last week for not whining during the OKC game, which was on NBA-TV. Last night, the game was on NBA-TV again and he was holding it together for the national audience, but was wobbly. Finally, the dam burst late in the 3rd quarter and he whined at his absolute worst about the Warriors’ rebounding. It continued into the 4th quarter, and I was shouting at the TV for him to shut up.

    Later, I checked the box score and saw the Ws had outrebounded the Suns, 44-42. Bob, you’re on my s**t list again. Really, man. Put a frickin’ sock in it.

  5. Mychal and son Klay before the Warriors played the Lakers in LA.

  6. I cannot recall seeing another player who shoots the three with such consistently pure form/backspin/rhythm as Klay Thompson. The ball leaves his hand beautifully with pure backspin virtually every time it leaves his fingertips. Even Curry, who has a beautiful long shot, doesn’t do that as consistently.

    Felt, I’m glad you’re coming around on Thompson. He could become an elite player at the 2. It just depends on how intelligent he is and how hard he works. Based on his quick development so far, he has a very bright future. As I’ve said before, you put Curry, Thompson and Lee on the court at the same time and you’ve got 3 incredibly smart and unselfish bball players. They are a pleasure to watch together on the court, especially if they are paired with Udoh for defense.

    Lin hits 2 3’s in the waning seconds of the game tonight to win it. I’d say he can shoot just fine this year.

    • Yes, 16.7% from three before those two shots.

      • And 25% afterwards… Small sample size.

        Time will tell. Lin’s shot has improved tremendously – I was impressed in the two games I’ve watched. Complete confidence in his shot. Not the same player he was at Golden State or in Summer Leagues shooting the ball from the perimeter.

    • it’s not necessarily a small sample size. in college, lin shot 33 percent from the college 3 point line, which isn’t that impressive. given that sample size (4 years in college) and then the last few games, you can say reasonably that he’s (at this moment) a 20-something % shooter from the NBA 3 point line. of course, that doesn’t mean he can’t improve. even jordan didn’t have a great 3 point shot at the beginning of his career.

  7. Cowens was a much better defender than Lee; much tougher. And Lee has a more varied offensive game imo. Overall, Cowens was quite a bit better compared to his peers at the time. I don’t recall Cowens being able to jump much and Lee has good hops. I don’t see much similarities in their games, to tell you the truth. Similar height and both white and good competitors.

  8. MWLX@2 Name me a center today better than Kareem Abdul Jabbar, whom Bill Walton considers the best of all-time, and I’ll take your point. Cowens averaged 20 and 13 against Jabbar in the finals. In game 7, in Milwaukee, he put up 28 points, and completely destroyed Jabbar mentally and physically as the Celtics won 102-87.

    Cowens also held his own against Wilt Chamberlain and Nate Thurmond, and dominated Bob Lanier. To mention a few other centers not as big and athletic as today’s.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the 6-9″ 230 lb. Cowens could be a championship center today, playing for the right coach. Just as I had no doubt that the 6-9″ 240 lb. Ben Wallace would destroy Shaq in 2004. Just to mention one other center, smaller than David Lee, who got it done in the “modern” era.

    OT@9: Both Dave Cowens and David Lee are 6-9″. Both are left handed. Both have great jump hooks (I believe Cowens invented the shot). Both are completely ambidextrous, and shoot equally well with either hand. Both have deadly jumpers from 15 feet. Both are completely unselfish players. Both are great passers. Both are dominant rebounders. Both are hands-down the best running centers in the game.

    Both play all 82 games. Both are all-out hustle players. Both have incredible motors, and can go 40+ minutes, wearing their opponents into the ground. Both relish the defensive challenge against bigger players, and never, ever back down.

    Both are under-rated.

    Other than that, there are no similarities. Except, as you note, that both are white.

    • feltmeister, apparently you never watched Bob Petit, arguably one of the top two or three ‘power forwards’ ever, who was known for a great jump hook. he actually learned it from a teammate, who’s generally credited as being the first to popularize it, Billy McGill. there was a legendary playground pick up game in LA, 1955, when the college stars Chamberlain and Guy Rodgers. later teammates of course in the pros for Phi/SF, were in town and opposed by a squad led by Russell, who chose the local high school phenom McGill. McGill played for NY after college before going to StL and showing Petit the shot, with NY newspaper accounts of his ‘kooky hook’.

      • Wow, great knowledge Moto. Thanks! And no, I never watched Bob Pettit, before my time :> Did you?

          • Games back then look like they are in slow motion!!! LOL!

          • feltmaestro, my early memories of watching pro hoops go back to the early 60s when there was one or two nationally televised games each week on abc. many of the stars we do remember today came out of college at the end of Petit’s career, including Nelson. the game was played a lot closer to the floor, of course, with notable exceptions like Russell, Chamberlain, Baylor, Johnny Green, but on the plus side it was a lot smoother and more controlled.

          • Thanks Steve! Moto, my first memories were of watching Cowens, Silas, Nelson, Havlicek and JoJo White beat the Bucks of Jabbar and Robertson. Literally. I watched at a friends house, because my father didn’t believe in television. And I was hooked on hoops — and TV — for life.

    • Ben Wallace is also really 6’7″

  9. Markieff Morris watch:
    Against the Nuggets tonight, 21 points on 8-16, 2-4 from three, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks in 29 minutes off the bench.

  10. PeteyBrian: Your saying that Udoh “put up no stats” is true if one just reads his individual box score line. Reviewing stats in a box score tell us very little as to how well a particular player played defensively. Block shots give us some indication, but more shots are altered than blocked,and altered shots don’t appear in the box score.

    There is a need for a new and additional stat line for a player so that we can see how the team peformed when a particular player was on the court. I am presently construting such a stat line. Posters simply ignore that basketball is a team game, not an individual game. If one player is not making his shots, the other may be hitting their shots.

    The present stat line for a player often keeps fans from seeing what is actually taking place, and are sometimes misleading.Who cares if a big’s stats show he gets few defensive rebounds when other players are getting the same rebounds? Or, if he shoots 1-3, when others, during the same time of play shot 13-20?

    But today, we can go along way quantifying what Udoh does on the court defensively if we look at the fact that in his playing time against Houston, Houston shot only 32% from the floor and when he was off the court they shot 55%. Opposing teams are rarely going to win when that occurs, but Houston had a chance to win since Jackson only played Udoh 22 minutes.

    Houston’slow FG% was in part due to Udoh making guys miss their shots from the three point line, from the wings, and driving to the hoop.

    Given Houston’s low shooting % when Udoh was on the court, I figure that Udoh told 10-15 points off the other teams scoring during his limited playing time.

    That’s why when posters say they love Monroe’s numbers, and ignore that teams shoot the lights out when he is on the court.This is why he has negative rating when he is on the court, and Detroit is more productive when he is not on the court.

    With Monroe on the court, posters ignore that teams are likely to shoot 10 more points than they otherwise should have made during the game.

    On the other hand, Udoh’s large positive rating shows that the Warriors outscored Houston by a large margin when he is on the court.
    Also, one can see his contribution by the fact that Houston scored under 25 points in the second and fourth quarter, when Udoh played most of his minutes. In most games, teams have a hard time scoring 25 points in a quarter when he is on the court.

    Udoh’s offensive stat line is very misleading. Even though his shooting percentage is low, he rarely takes 5 shots per game. This is good for the team and it’s offensive production when Udoh is on the court. For other Warrior players who shoot a higher percentage are taking his shots and that’s good for the team. Some of these shots are even three pointers.

    The same goes for his lack of defensive rebounds, As he is keeping teams from scoring, which is his main responsibilty. And who cares if he doesn’t get defensive rebounds, when the same rebounds are being obtained by D.Lee, Curry, and Ellis? By the Warriors outscoring their opponents when he is on the court, his lack of defensive rebounds doesn’t keep the Warriors from outscoring it’s opponents when he is on the court.

    Only if teams garner more offensive rebounds than the Warriors and score more points off the offensive rebounds than the Warriors when Udoh is on the court, do even offensive rebounds become a factor. And by the way, he’s a good offensive rebounder.

    It’s really important in watching a game in accessing a defensive center to see if many points are being scored inside and the shooting % of the other team, not defensive rebounds.

    And with Udoh defending the rim, the Warriors perimeter players should not sag in and allow uncontested three point shots, They should be defending the 3 point shot, and lowering the opponents fg% from the three point line. The Warriors did this against Houston. So, Udoh in his own way is making Curry, Ellis, Thompson, and Rush better defenders.

    • Excellent points all around, Frank. I’m particularly interested in the rebounding point, since that is Udoh’s greatest weakness. I have found myself wondering whether the Warriors rebound as a team better with Udoh on the court. He really holds his box outs a long time, too long really if the point is to get the rebound yourself. But it does help his teammates.

      If I were working on statistical methods to measure Udoh’s productivity, I would concentrate on the fourth quarter only. Many bench players’ stats are inflated not just by their relative freshness compared to higher minute players, but by the fact that they play only against second lines.

      There’s nowhere to hide in crunch time. I’d like to see all players stats measured that way.

      • the stats that can pick up the team rebounding rate, and the opponents’ scoring from their offensive boards are “total rebound pct.” (there are splits for the most used line up configurations), and “second chance points”.

        with the woeyrs’ situation, it’s essential that the wings pick up boards. ellis is very inconsistent, thompson is building his game up one phase at a time, d.wright is inconsistent. [rush is filling the m.barnes role in some ways, less volatile, doesn’t make plays nearly as well]. in many of their wins, it’s curry and robinson that provide an essential boost on the boards.

  11. Jeremy Lin going against Keith Smart’s Kings tonight. This should be fascinating. Only one team so far has attempted to force Lin left. I think Smart will be a little extra-motivated to plant a stinker on Lin’s resume.

  12. You can assume I won’t be recapping tonight. Got the flu somehow, and have just about enough energy to drag myself to the couch and turn on the TV. But I probably won’t get off it.

  13. Felty: Thanks for your generous comment.

    Answering your question in light of the Phoenix game only, it does not appear that Phoenix propered by Udoh only obtaining one defensive rebound, as Phoenix gained no advantage by obtaining more offensive rebounds than the Warriors did.

    It should also be noted given that so many three’s are shot by each team, there are many times that offensive rebounds are obtained beyond the paint, which the defense cannot be faulted for.

    With Udoh on the court in the first quarter, each team had no offensive rebounds. When Udoh was on the court in the second quarter, Phoenix had one offensive rebound, the Warriors two offensive rebounds. With Udoh on the court in third quarter, Phoenix has three offensive rebounds and scored no points off of these offensive rebounds. The Warriors had one offensive rebound which was garnered by Udoh, and the Warriors scored off of his offensive rebound. In the fourth quarter, the Warriors had 5 offensive rebounds (two by Udoh), and Phoenix had four offensive rebounds. Neither team scored off of their respective offensive rebounds. So, in this game, it’s quite clear that Phoenix did not get any advantage as the result of Udoh only having one defensive rebound.

  14. Given that players are taller in today’s NBA game, the advent of the three-point line, and offenses designed to draw defensive bigs away from the rim, don’t you think that a player like Bill Russell would have a hard time, in today’s game, averaging 12 rebounds per game?

    • Another great point.

    • don’t underestimate Russell’s speed, strength, great conditioning and most of all his competitive desire to go after the shot blocks and boards. Bob Petit makes very good points about players of his era playing twenty or thirty years later on that youtube interview/highlight tape — they would have the same advantages in training and better competition as their contemporaries, and would adapt successfully because they were motivated to be the best. Russell put in heavy minutes on a team that played at a fast pace, and he did not take breathers when they switched to offense ; could present day centers maintain that level on both ends ?

  15. Portland:


    • Painful game to watch. Nate killed the team down the stretch with selfish play.

      Where was Monta…? Jackson really blew this one. Felt, don’t blame Macon, Jackson was destroyed by Mcmillan.

  16. Monta was sick and Jackson didn’t feel he was up to playing. What I don’t understand is the play of Curry. After a monster game in Denver, he’s been quiet, not taking many shots, nor having many screens set for him. Tonight his shooting was off, but his ten shots were spread out over four quarters and he didn’t take many shots at all first half to get him going. If he is the Steve Nash of the future, why isn’t this being tested 4th. quarter, why wasn’t he running the team working with Lee–or looking for Rush or Udoh? (And Udoh needed to be in when they went small.)

  17. I think I caught the flu from just watching this debacle.