Your Nightmare Has Come True: Warriors 104 Clippers 97

It’s like a nightmare, isn’t it? It just keeps getting worse and worse.  — Grady Seasons

This will be remembered as the night that Ekpe “The Nightmare” Udoh put it all together, against the most hyped frontcourt in basketball.  Most startling of all — for those already familiar with his defensive prowess — was the confident offensive game he displayed.

It’s an amazing concept, isn’t it, five on five basketball on the offensive end?  Kind of hard to guard, isn’t it?                        

But no matter how happy I am to see Udoh blossom on the offensive end, it is his defense that I can’t take my eyes away from.  He is one of those rare NBA players whom I love to watch throughout entire defensive possessions.

We saw the spectacular defense in this game:  the complete and utter CAPULATION of the fiercest beast in basketball, Blake Griffin.  They were called fouls, naturally.  But Griffin knew better.  He felt The Nightmare.

But we also saw, time and time again, what the unititiated might find unspectacular or even boring:  picking up players like Chris Paul and Mo Williams on switches, and simply refusing to let them drive.  While staying close enough to challenge their shots — even at the three point line.  It’s spectacular to me.  I can’t really think of another player his size who could do this.

Except Kevin Garnett.

Really the only thing that kept the Clippers alive in this game was their red-hot three point shooting.  There was no layup line. No pick and rolls. No Lob City. It didn’t really feel like a Warriors basketball game, did it?

The box score didn’t look like a Warriors game either.  Take a look at the Warriors’ +/- statistics.  The starters all +10 or better.  The reserves all minus.  Precisely the opposite of the usual case.

It’s kind of hard not to see the impact of Ekpe Udoh in that, isn’t it?  He’s one of those rare reserves whose hugely positive +/- is for real. Because he’s for real.

How you like it, Greg Monroe lovers?  This might be the right moment to revisit that debate.  Particularly now that Monroe’s Pistons have actually started playing a little better.  This debate will have long legs.

But not for me.  For me it’s not even close.

Don Nelson got it right.

Goose Eggs:  Flu-like symptoms?  (cough!)  Interesting timing. #OsteitisPubis (Shhhhh!)

The debate over whether Udoh should supplant Biedrins in the starting lineup will begin in earnest now — at least for the mainstream media.  For me, there really is no debate.  Biedrins should remain the starter.

Wait, what?  Udoh’s biggest proponent, the guy who predicted Udoh’s greatness before his first Warriors game, thinks Biedrins should continue starting?  Yes, I do.

In games in which he plays at all, that is.  There are many games in which I don’t think Biedrins should ever see a minute.  In games against the Phoenix Suns, for instance.  Or the Thunder or Heat.

But against teams with really good and really mammoth centers, like the Lakers and the Grizzlies, Biedrins should start.  For two reasons:

1) To absorb as many punishing minutes against the behemoths as he can take, and thus preserve Lee and Udoh for the fourth quarter; and

2) Because his presence in the second unit would undermine the very thing that makes the second unit so successful: running and shooting.  Biedrins and the Dominator in the same unit would bring back memories of Biedrins and Amundson.

Udoh should remain in the Serge Ibaka role.

Mark Jackson:  I’m not really sure what I witnessed tonight.  Curry took 6 shots in this game.  Not one in the second half.  Not a single shot.  Is that a winning game plan for this Warriors team, even on a night that Ellis has it going?

And the Warriors literally made no effort to run the ball.  None.  I don’t remember them ever even looking upcourt after a rebound, let alone actually pushing the ball.  Is that a winning game plan for this Warriors team?

Maybe it is, in games that Ekpe Udoh gets 38 minutes. And it’s very hard to quibble with, on nights the Warriors beat very good teams like these Clippers.

But I’m quibbling.

And I can’t help wondering….  If we were still in the Kwame Brown Era, who would have been guarding Chris Paul on that last play?

Monta Ellis:  There is a meme among Warriors fans that Monta Ellis can’t play defense.  I find that a head scratcher.  I’ve seen him destroy Brandon Roy and Derrick Rose.  Harass players like Kobe and Durant.

And tonight put a 1-9, 2 ast, 3 TO second half on Chris Paul.  With a little help from a living, breathing center, of course.

I continue to believe that Monta Ellis is one of the best, and most underrated players in the NBA, and will continue to believe it right up until the moment Joe Lacob trades him.

Stephen Curry:  There is something special about the way Monta and Curry have taken turns deferring to each other, as the “flow coach” Mark Jackson rides the hot hand.  It says a lot about the respect between the two players, their unselfishness, coachability, and desire to win.

But still.

On nights like tonight, I almost start wishing for Stephen Curry to be traded.  Because I love Curry.  Think he’s an incredible basketball player, with champion quality.

And I’m beginning to believe that he will never fulfill his potential playing for Joe Lacob, and the coaches he hires.

Despite the Warriors fourth quarter scoring drought, it all worked out tonight.  Everything worked out.  But might it not have worked out even better with Curry and Lee working pick and roll?

What I wouldn’t pay to see Stephen Curry play for Mike D’Antoni.  If that happened…  Oh my god.

Even Matt Steinmetz would be forced to admit that Curry is a point guard.

David Lee:  Soft?

A few posts back I made the argument that the biggest difference between Lee and the all-star Kevin Love is that Love is featured in his offense while Lee is not.

That appears to be changing.

Dorell Wright:  Two offensive stinkers in a row.  But paradoxically, in the last two games — three actually — he’s given terrific defensive performances.  Against Durant, Gay and in this game, Butler.

I’m not worried about his offense.  The man can shoot.  And when he puts it all together, he’s an extremely valuable player.

He’s even a good player when he shoots 0-6.  On nights like tonight.

Klay Thompson:  Is Klay Thompson a good player when his shot is not falling?  His minutes in the last two games would suggest otherwise.

Or perhaps Lacob has given up on getting him into the Rising Stars Challenge.


48 Responses to Your Nightmare Has Come True: Warriors 104 Clippers 97

    • nice to see the great Wilt receive some love after the media went to such lengths in his playing days to cast him in a black hat. the 4100+ who saw the game in Hershey underlines how much far lesser players like O’Neal or Howard benefit from hype.

  1. One more thing – watching a game i thought feltbot would go nuts happy the way jackson switched udoh on griffin and lee on deandre – to me, perfect defensive/offensive maximizing of their respective talents.


    Loved his offensive outburst! I expect inconsistency from Udoh on offense – only unless it’s finishing feeds from his teammates.

    Udoh and Lee really outplayed Jordan and Griffin!

    If David Lee continues this aggressive play – perhaps he’ll shake off all his softness! LOL!

    Was the gameplan for Curry – not to take shots if Paul was on him? If Curry’s 6 shots/Klay’s 2 shots is a one game thing, no problem. If it’s a consistent thing, I don’t think it’s very smart to have the best open shooters NOT shooting the ball.

    Dorell Wright shut out again? Nice boards.

    2nd team – particularly McGuire – forced their offense.

  3. My favorite play was when Klay passed up a 3 to set up Monta for one. Nate Robinson would have shot it haha.

  4. With Udoh guarding the rim, there is no need for the Warriors perimeter players to leave the three-point line and sag inside. The Warriors defense should focus on preventing three point shots. By limiting teams to making mostly 2 point field goal shots, the Warriors should win many games. Don’t expect Jackson to get this concept.

  5. Provocative column, Felteasy.

    It will be some time before I stop holding my breath every time Udoh takes a shot, but he was HUGE last night. His Wikipedia page says he has a 7’4-1/2″ wingspan. On his last “foul” of Griffin, it looked like he had about 3 feet of wing draped over the ball. Great!

    As good as Udoh was, Monta was even better. Go back over the tape of the game and you can see him getting angrier and angrier through the first 3 quarters. Bad for the Clips, because Monta became very, very focused – you could see it in his eyes, no kidding. The result was complete and total domination of some very good players, including Chris Paul. Monta not an Allstar? This one game alone was plenty of credential. A scary, scary player. Hopefully, performances like that will make team management think long and hard before trading him away for some big stiff. I wonder what Jerry West thought of Monta’s game last night.

    Like you, I don’t understand why Jackson allows other teams to make Curry disappear on O. Wherever he goes he’s the best shooter in the building, and the whole point of running offensive plays is to get the ball in the right hands at the right spot. Maybe Jackson hasn’t gotten to that part of the book yet.

    I was happy to see Curry, Ellis and Lee all getting on the refs about the foul calls. It’s about time. Was that Curry’s first-ever T? Good for him. As much as we’ve come to expect a FT disparity against the Warriors, sometimes it gets almost outrageous (e.g. Lee’s last play against the Grizzlies). I think refs need to be reminded sometimes that the play’s the thing, not the players.

    Almost unnoticed beside Udoh and Ellis, Lee played a truly great game last night. Makes one wonder how much we really missed by not acquiring Jordan.

    And McGuire, bless him, love the guy, spectacular defender – but please don’t let him dribble or shoot. His buckets should come from rebounding only. If that. Unfortunately, when he does end up with the ball he shoots about 90% of the time. I like his lack of hesitation on both ends of the floor. I think he’s really important to the Warriors. But damn, he is not a scorer.

  6. Does Gwen Knapp write better than every other sportswriter in the Bay Area? She has my vote.

    Here she is on Wilt Chamberlain and the ghost of Andris Biedrins.

    • my comment follows Steve’s duplicate post on (2), but it’s an article worth reminding folks to read. Knapp has a refreshingly different style from most of her male colleagues — straight shooting, unassuming, no ego. there’s another top female sports journalist in our region, Janie McCauley who covers about every major league for AP. pretty pathetic and predictable was choosing anne killion of all people from this area for commentary on our local teams ; she merely recycles conventional views.

  7. Felty, I have to part company with your view that Biedrins should start against big centers. He will continue to be abused, and our other starters will not perform as well, as defenses will simply ignore Biedrins and concentrate on stopping our other starters. More importantly, I’m sick of the Warriors being behind at the end of the first quarter, and have to play from behind.

    Udoh should start and continue to play as many minutes as possible.
    The Warriors played so smootly when he was on the court. His continued up-beat movement was infcctious on the team on both sides of the ball.

    Even if he doesn’t score, his devastating offensive picks allow for easy threes and the Warriors scoring at the rim, plus is incredible defense requires that he start.

    Jackson has to get in his head that with Udoh on the court, perimeter defenders should stay on the perimeter and stop three pointers, and to at least do so, when we have a lead.

    Udoh is smart at avoiding getting into foul trouble. I’m so down on Biedrins, I’ll go as far a proposing that Tyler be Udoh’s main back-up.

    Udoh and D. Lee will still be there in the fourth quarter.

    Will someone please teach Jackson how the guards and SF should set screens for Curry. He should also tell Robinson if he takes more shots than Rush, he will join him on the bench.

  8. Lively debate between Michael Smith and Skip Bayless on OKC and Russell Westbrook. I love Westbrook’s toughness and intensity but I kinda side with Bayless on this one.

  9. “And if the bench is less effective, will the Warriors be as good?”

    You mean “as good” as 12-17 over their next 29 games?

  10. I think I’m with Frank @9–the Warriors finally got off to a good start first quarter and Udoh helped set the tone. Can’t they get creative with subs, staggering players, and not send in a wholly different second unit? Note last night they didn’t have to go to Tyler at all.

  11. “The Lakers’ front office is an uncommunicative, rudderless fiasco, and the unrest and paranoia that have been festering for years threaten to derail the team’s plans to ride Bryant to his sixth NBA title while they still can. And much of it can be traced to the growing influence of executive vice president Jim Buss, the owner’s bon vivant son, who has helped transform a great franchise into a steaming pool of nepotism and nincompoops.”

    Gee, what a shame. :)

  12. Steph, did you hear that? Now, quit missing free throws (36-45)!!

  13. Talk about past GSW tales-of-woe, Portland beats all those stories by light years. Bowie and Oden, that says it all.

  14. PB@13 It looks like I’m not the only one watching Klay Thompson on the defensive end, although I’m certainly the only writer on the Warriors who is willing to talk about it.

    What Pruiti doesn’t state — and I have — is that Thompson may have no choice but to step back when guarding the two. No choice.

    • Feltster,

      You’re probably right about Thompson’s lack of quickness, but it isn’t a hopeless condition yet. NBA rookies all say that their biggest challenge in moving up to the pros is the huge step up in conditioning they need.

      If KT is willing to put in the work, it is possible for him to get stronger, faster and quicker. We won’t see it until next year, though. Conditioning takes time, for both work and recovery. And time is in short supply this season.

    • I’m with you on Klay’s defense – it’ll be his NBA achilles heel. But he’s a rookie and he’ll have more time to develop – and either sink or swim.

      I’m high as a kite regarding Klay’s offensive game – perhaps too high.

  15. “Jeremy Lin and Kim Kardashian are getting set up on a date, further proving that the Mayans were right”

    • One guy in Palo Alto has offered a Lin-signed YB on Ebay.

      “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the record for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.”

      -H.L. Mencken


      Man, F* you Curry… WE get to pick the Knicknames, not you! Hehe!

      Curry’s just mad because his former 2nd backup is lighting up the center of the universe where Curry should have been drafted for the coach he wanted to born to play for and Steph’s still “deferring” to Monta Ellis.

      I still don’t understand Jackson’s idea of “minutes” and “starting” – WHEN DID EKPE UDOH EVER PLAY 38 MINUTES???

      If they don’t play Udoh 35 minutes every game – and ride him like Secretariat (Lin pun) – the tank is in…

  16. Everyone chasing Pryzbilla, except the Warriors. They don’t need him. They need a “big” deal. Or another lottery pick.

    • A 32-year old often injured out of shape and average NBA center? I’ll pass too! Sounds like the second coming of Kwame Brown to me.

      Unfortunately, I like the idea of another year, another lottery hope. Hope is an eternal thing.

      Then have Jerry West decide to use the pick (trade) or package for a bigger deal. Of course Jerry had the backdrop of a top NBA franchise in a top market in Lakerland and Los Angeles, but West has a knack for going after bigs and will find us a real deal big man if he has the assets.

      Lacob/Riley/Meyers – will find DeAndre Jordan AND underbid.

  17. Warriors best defensive player guarding SG’s is K. Thompson. SG’s only shoots 39%. 82 games.

    Thompson, D.Wright and Rush’s SF opponents all shoot above 50%

    Udoh holding PF’s to shooting 41%. D.Lee-42%.

  18. @21:

    There’s also the guy who paid $1,000 for Lin’s rookie card a few weeks ago. His ROI ain’t lookin’ too shabby.

  19. Time for another round of “Chat with Matt” (aka The Three Stooges minus 2 answers your NBA/Warriors questions).