Systems Matter: Lakers 118 Warriors 115

There was much to praise in Mark Jackson’s game plan last night, but he simply had the wrong lineup on the court in the fourth quarter and overtime. Landry proved that Howard couldn’t guard him in the first half, forcing Howard’s third foul. And yet when Howard has five fouls, this doesn’t cross Jackson’s mind?     

Some element of flow coaching in Jackson’s decision to ride Jack, and not Curry. And ride Barnes, and not Thompson or Green. I don’t have a problem with that.

But the Warriors’ all-star center, David Lee, was made a complete spectator by Jackson’s uncharacteristic decision to ride Ezeli’s defense in crunch time. Was the moment too big for Jackson to stick with what won him the last 10 games?

Systems matter. And I’m tempted to say that Jackson suffered a failure of nerve at the end of this game. He allowed the Lakers to dictate matchups and style of play, rather than the other way around.

This is not meant to be a criticism of Ezeli. He was FANTASTIC last night, in his proven role to start the first and third quarters. Stopped all penetration, recovered to rebound. Gave Dwight Howard a physical pounding. Fantastic.

But Mark Jackson put him in a position to fail in crunch time. That’s the time when the Warriors’ center is going to be NEEDED for buckets, and buckets is simply not what Ezeli does.

A lot of rookie mistakes last night, particularly on the defensive end. But perhaps none so big as that made by the Warriors coach.

I have holiday commitments this weekend, so that’s all I’ve got for now.

Happy Holidays!

63 Responses to Systems Matter: Lakers 118 Warriors 115

  1. Thanks FB.

    I also thought Jackson might not have been quite up to the moment. Some great basketball though.

    Happy holidays to everyone!

  2. Jackson himself, postgame, said he made a mistake not pushing the tempo 4th quarter. This staff is obviously putting a lot of thought into what they are doing, much of it encouraging.

    The loss can easily be explained by Curry’s mediocre shooting, especially down the stretch, and to lots of mistakes at crucial times—fumbled passes, fumbled rebounds—which I attribute to nothing more than lack of experience of the young players. And this will continue. Few of the players have experience in pressure games over the course of a season. Curry has none. The games he’s played in the previous three years never mattered.

    But I wonder if you have to give the win to D’Antoni. Getting scoring from unexpected players in unexpected places may have confused the defense. It certainly confused me. Meeks. Hill’s outside shots. MWP, off the bench, as you anticipated. I saw a lot of mismatches and blown covers. And if D’Antoni wants quick offense, he may have to get it from them. The other guys are old and slowing down.

    I assume Ezeli was kept in because of Howard’s threat. We knew Kobe could score regardless. That was my fear coming into the game and that of just about everyone else. But Howard just looked lost on both ends of the court. D’Antoni’s biggest problem may be to figure out what to do with him.

    Yet if Ezeli is going to be in the game late, he has to be able to score, as you say.

    Give Barnes credit, btw, for his 4th quarter scoring. I wish we’d seen it sooner.

  3. I agree with you about Landry. I think you needed a crafty veteran to go at Howard and foul him out. Ezeli’s turnovers and fumbled rebounds were not what you need at the end of the game. Replacing Barnes with Thompson at the end of the game was a mistake as well. Barnes made his mistakes but Thompson proved all game he couldn’t keep Kobe or MWP from doing whatever they wanted. Kobe missed shots but it wasn’t anything Thompson did. It looked to me like Barnes bothered Kobe at least a little. The inefficient shooting from Steph were as equally damning to the cause as the rotations. Oh well.

  4. I also had problems with the coaching. Wrong people on the floor. And was there really no time-out during the big run? I don’t recall one. Maybe I got distracted?

    Curry has been doing a lot of things well, but I don’t understand his allergy to the rim. He almost never gets a layup. He rarely gets fouled on a drive. Last night he actually drove a couple of times, but he avoids contact and takes harder shots as a result. To his credit, he often makes it work, but last night it looked like he fell in love with 25 foot shots — and missed a lot of them.

    With 5 fouls on two key Lakers, where were the isos to make them pay?

  5. Really good piece at SI on Ezeli, his background, his dedication—and his nerves:

    At first the sessions were uniformly horrific; tapes from Ezeli’s first two years show his Australian classmate A.J. Ogilvy, a 6’11″, 250-pound All-SEC center, manhandling the largest bio major in Vanderbilt history. But Ezeli—who didn’t even know how to properly box out—quickly resolved to attack basketball like coursework. The blankest of slates, devoid of any habits at all, he was the Commodores’ model student, perpetually asking questions and pulling all-nighters to go over the playbook and game film. By his third season Ezeli started to dominate practices against Ogilvy, coaches say, and as lessons clicked into place they’d see his face light up like a child’s.

    Even last year, in Vandy’s first-round loss to Murray State in the NCAA tournament, Ezeli found himself leg-locked due to nerves. Balls flew through his hands; the game seemed to be playing in fast forward. “I wasn’t even in control of my body,” Ezeli admits. “When I got into games I regressed, and got back to looking like old Festus again. When I tried to box out I fell down. It was crazy.”

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1182629/1/index.htm

    I have a casual theory that players who start late will struggle with the subtle skill of shooting. A shot has to grow up with a player’s body: he makes adjustments over time as he gets stronger. But Ezeli started strong.

  6. Jackson had the team push the ball in the first quarter more than they had the whole season which resulted in many turnovers. Such made no sense given the Warriors played the night before. They were a spent team in the fourth quarter. No wonder they took quick shots and lost their imposing lead. Jackson obviously had not told the team to refrain from taking quick shots. He’s not the coach you want out there against good teams.

    To often, he plays Curry forty or more minutes.

    Ezeli was simply a disaster as he committed six turnovers and the team got outscored by a good margin when he was on the court. He failed to secure offensive rebounds by going after the ball with only one hand, knocking the ball out of play three times, He also knocked the ball out of bounds on an attempted steal by not using two hands to secure the ball. We need a center. Twice, he threw the ball directly to opposing players.

    The days of the Warriors holding teams to below 43% FG percentage appears over. I’m beginning to think that our defense was primarily good against Eastern teams, and not against superior Western conference teams.

    Felty, you have a great blog and thank you for sharing our outstanding insights into the game. You also have the best posters. Happy Holidays to Steve, White Hat, Petey Brian, Andria, rgg, Rich P, and all other posters.

    • Frank, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! And that goes to everyone else, also. Seems I forgot something?????? Oh yeah, GO WARRIORS!! :)

    • the woeyrs do not have a winning record against western teams. defensively they’ve survived while incurring one of the highest foul totals in the entire league, and they’re usually shooting fewer free throws than opponents. with ball handling duties often split up, two rookies starting, and the preacher’s preference to look for the extra pass, they’ll have recurring binges of turnovers. it should not surprise us when their record starts to correct down to .500.

    • Thanks Frank,

      Merry Christmas to all!

      - Empty Hat

  7. CSNBayArea grades the Dubs performance vs LA

    http://www.csnbayarea.com/basketball-golden-state-warriors/grading-warriors-performance-vs-lakers

    Ever notice how these guys criticize shot volume and selection when the ball isn’t going through the hoop but quiet on the subject otherwise?

    Bottom line for me is shooters have to shoot, and keep shooting, regardless, as long as they’re open with good looks. Thompson and Curry hurt the Warriors when they abandon their offensively aggressive mindset. Yes, by all means, pass the ball if you’re closely guarded and others have better looks, but in the end, if Klay and Steph aren’t scoring many points (and you have to shoot to score) the Warriors probably will lose.

  8. OT: Beautiful music video……. Martina McBride sings “O Come All Ye Faithful”

  9. An open question is whether R. Jefferson is over the hill, and whether he will ever again be able to shoot 41% from three point range as he did last year.

    The Warriors decided to start the year with Barnes playing SF, and Jefferson has gotten little playing time, and for some period of time he was injured.

    If he can play at or close to the level he did last year, the Warriors should have him take some of Barnes’ minutes, as Jefferson has both leadership and playing skills that would help the Warriors. I hope he is given that opportunity so that we can make that assessment.

    If Jefferson cannot contribute and stays with the Warriors through next year, then one has to consider whether the trade of Stephen Jackson for Jefferson and the right to draft Ezeli was worth taking on Jefferson’s bloated contract that inhibits the Warriors from doing other things

    If we had not made the underlying trade that brought us Bogut, we would have had K. Brown’s money to sign a center free agent. So, ahd the Warriors made a mistake? Not necessarily so if Bogut is able to contribute both this year and next, and if Ezeli is a serviceable back-up.
    Yes, Ezeli is more serviceable than Biedrins, but I still have a problem saying that Ezeli is a serviceable back-up given that the Warriors are being outscored when Ezeli is on the court. The jury’s still out on answering those open questions.

    A really good team has players in the rotation providing a positive team rating when they are on the court. The Warriors don’t have that as yet.

  10. The bounce back kids do it again, an NBA best 9-1 after a loss. A real challenge to win in Utah but GSW again impressed with their toughness, both physically and mentally. They go for their 20th win in their first 30 games on Friday vs Philly.

    Game recap from CSNBayArea.com:

    http://www.csnbayarea.com/basketball-golden-state-warriors/instant-replay-warriors-94-jazz-83

  11. “Who’s the best team in the West?”

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/page/5-on-5-121227/nba-best-western-conference-team

    My vote, without hesitation, goes to OKC. My next vote would go to the Spurs. The Clippers are, IMO, pretenders to the crown. Really, how far do they think they’re going to go with all those Warriors-rejects on their team (Crawford, Barnes, Turiaf)? LOL

    In my mind, after the Thunder, the West has never been more up for grabs than right now. The Spurs and Lakers are still good but getting older in a hurry.

    Memphis I really liked last year but their loss in the first round of last season’s playoffs wreaked of a big time gag job. An obvious playoff team again in 2012-13 but then what??

    Dallas has slipped, Houston is looking improved but in transition, Denver has a ton of home games to come but one of their more important pieces is a guy I’ve never bought into (Gallinari).

    Portland, Minnesota and Utah can beat anyone on any given day but their chances to make the postseason and winning once there? Slim and next-to-zero, IMO. And finally we have…………

    The Warriors, in transition (rebuilding on the fly) like the Rockets, just continue to pleasantly surprise with their rapid ascension to the upper levels of the Western Conference despite playing without Bogut. I have no idea what they’re capable of accomplishing the rest of the way but in a highly competitive conference that is in the midst of a sea change of power, their place in all this is filled with intrigue and question marks not to mention lots of positive potential.

    • As of right now:
      1. Spurs
      2. Warriors
      3. Clippers
      4. Nuggets
      5. Thunder
      6. Grizz
      7. Jazz

      Obviously, I expect changes.

  12. I think Felt called it: the current Warriors team seems to do well against teams with weaker wing players, like Utah last night. Against tougher backcourts they do less well – Orlando, for example.

    The size and strength of opponents’ frontcourt players doesn’t seem to matter as much. The team’s big combo of Lee/Landry will always struggle defensively against bigger players, but don’t have a problem on O. And Ezeli/Biedrins really help when the team simply must get stops.

    The Ws have some players they could use to stiffen their backcourt D when necessary (similar to using the no-offense Ezeli/Biedrins in the frontcourt), but so far they’ve mostly just inserted Jack over Thompson. That’s a good defensive upgrade, and Jack is no slouch on O. But I wonder if the team will also start using Bazemore more often, when they really need to smother some opposing wing player. Bazemore really is a great defender, easily on par with Draymond Green.

    • WH – like the call to get Bazemore some run. Nice change of pace from the mostly offensively skilled guards. I think he can be a disruption to other guards and inserted to stop runs. Like the laker game – when the lead 14 point lead was lost. It would be fun to see him chase nash around…

      • Orlando’s backcourt did well, but their frontcourt did equally well. Orlando’s size was very evident in this game. Their center and Big Baby, and their wings in Redick and Aflalo.

        Rush at SG/SF and Bogut at C – are two players who would have made an impact in that 2 game series – had they been healthy.

        Defensively, Jack/Thompson at SG isn’t there yet. SG Basemore intrigues me because he’s defensive stopper material with athleticism, but is a work in progress with great potential…

  13. Nets fire Avery Johnson. And the interim head coach is—wait for it, wait for it, wait for it—

    P. J. Carlesimo!

    This should be fun. One of my worst memories from the GSW Dark Ages was listening to his interviews on KNBR. I wanted to strangle him every time I heard him.

    • A few years back Gregg Popovitch said Carlesimo was the best coach not heading a team. Good for PJ. Let’s see what happens.

    • yeah – those pj interviews were screeching on the ears… enough to want to strangle him…ooops

  14. Mike Trudell: Lakers annouce that an MRI performed on @Pau Gasol’s right foot revealed plantar fasciitis. However, he’s probable for Friday’s game. Twitter @LakersReporter

  15. Rusty Simmons talks about the Warriors on 95.7FM The Game

    http://957thegame.com/episode_download.php?contentType=36&contentId=6175680

  16. I posted this back in October. I wonder what team this guy works for?

    AN OPPOSING TEAM’S SCOUT ANALYZES THE WARRIORS

    “This is a bad team with an unproven coach and a bad mix of players. All of their players are overrated with the exception maybe of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry — and who knows what Curry can give them [because of his ankle problems that have lingered in the preseason].”

    “Everyone says David Lee is a great guy, but talk about overrated. He’s looking for his own numbers big-time. I’m guessing he leads the league in rebounds off missed free throws. He has turned himself into a 20-and-10 guy — an accomplishment, for sure. But he’s never been a guy who is constantly helping on defense. The story you hear from the Knicks is that his teammates used to call him FEMA, because he’s never there when you need him. Lee is always there when he can take a charge, but when you’re getting beat around the basket after contesting a shot because you’re trying to make a play, he’s not coming over to cover for you. He takes charges and pumps his fist, but when you really watch him you see the things he doesn’t do.”

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/basketball/nba/10/23/warriors-nba-season-preview/index.html#ixzz2GK3boE6x

    • The person quoted in the article had a really negative slant, but unfortunately there is some basis for what he had to say about Lee. He does a lot of things very well, on both ends of the floor, but help defense isn’t one of them. When Lee is playing C, opposing teams really should take it to the hoop. They do, in fact.

      But highlighting that as a fatal flaw in Lee’s game is like knocking Rodman for a lousy shot, or Nash for slow feet. No one is perfect, and one weakness doesn’t make a bad player. Overall, Lee’s pluses far outweigh his minuses, especially in the Ws current system.

  17. Thursday practice interview with MJackson

  18. SALT LAKE CITY — Wait just a minute. This can’t be right, can it?

    Just take a look at the current NBA standings, and whad’ya see? Yep, sure enough, there’s that unfamiliar name “Golden State” sitting way up among the best teams in the Western Conference this season.

    It’s almost like an entry straight out of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.” But believe it, fans — it might seem sorta strange, but it’s definitely true.

    Golden State certainly made believers out of Utah on Wednesday night, as the Warriors surprised the Jazz 94-83 before a stunned crowd of 19,404 at EnergySolutions Arena.

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865569493/Utah-Jazz-Surprise-Surprise-These-Warriors-are-playing-tough.html

  19. Bazemore and Tyler both played in last night’s D-League game in Santa Cruz. Here’s the complete game playback:

  20. Here’s a center who could help the team out now:

    • And of course it’s Biedrins, 2007, vs. Memphis, and that’s Pau Gasol he’s playing against. 21 points, 14 boards, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. I wasn’t watching then, and this was still one of his better games that year, with few similar.

      In retrospect, he looks a little nervous catching, putting the ball on the floor, and shooting. I wonder if he ever had confidence in these, and starting young didn’t help. Then, of course, his injuries.

  21. Through the third quarter of the Utah game, Utah shot about 32% when either Ezeli or Biedrins was on the court. That’s why both had postive ratings up till then.

    But, in the fourth quarter, Biedrins played throughout and Utah shot 50% from the floor (toward the end of the game with those at the end of the bench) and Utah outscored the Warriors, which explains, in part,why Ezeli had plus 15, a high positive rating, and the Warriors just broke even with Biedrins on the court.

    Did you see Barnes stripped when he drove to the basket with the ball in front of him, rather then keeping the ball to his right and away from the defender on his left. Coaches have to teach him how to take it to the hoop.

  22. The Playlist: Winners Edition (fans vote for their favorite plays)

  23. I didn’t watch this game closely, but Klay Thompson’s short game – 12 feet in – looks absolutely horrible and has been for many games. Absolutely can’t finish well in and around the rim at all and is actually shooting recently better from 3 point range! Let’s hope this kid can get his short game percentages up. Sure, he’s only a second year player, but with his shooting touch, handle, and length, why can’t he finish? Kinda like Brandon Rush in Indiana – his 3 point percentages were almost as good as his 2 point percentages!

    Biedrins put in 2 decent efforts in a row. Perhaps Andrew Bogut will return and the W’s will have 3 serviceable bigs, a huge change from the past.

    I’d have to look at next season’s cap (and it’s way early still) but can the W’s afford UFA Jack and/or Landry – should carl opt out?

    • W’s have 20 wins before New Year’s, Biedrins 100% from the field and 100% from the free throw line, and we’re still ahead of the Lakers in the standings. Life is good today!

  24. A win is a win but I won’t be watching that game a second time. Ugly hoops (yes, I’m now officially spoiled), except for a few short stretches here and there. Boston is no great shakes but if the Warriors play this same game vs the Celtics they WILL lose.

    Interesting scheduling note for next week that presents a no excuse opportunity for a supposed no excuse team (GSW). The Warriors play 2 games next week (Wednesday and Saturday) and both are vs the Clippers. The Clippers play 4 games next week (not counting their Sunday night game vs Utah) and 2 of those 4 games are the night before their game with the Warriors. Not only that but 2 very tough games. Tuesday LAC will be in Denver before coming to The Oracle the following night, and then Friday night they’re home to play the hated Lakers preceding their second go-round of the week with the Dubs the next night.

    Game recap from CSNBayArea.com:

    http://www.csnbayarea.com/warriors/instant-replay-warriors-96-76ers-89

  25. From Marc Stein’s Weekend Dime (ESPN):

    Another not-so-fearless prediction for 2013: Andrew Bogut will be back on the floor for Golden State after the calendar flips.

    Can’t tell you specifically when, since the Warriors and Bogut have wisely decided that it’s best to avoid any talk of timetables until he has his conditioning up to speed and full confidence that his surgically repaired left ankle can handle the rigors of 5-on-5 basketball.

    The expectation in the Bay Area remains, though, that Bogut will ultimately rejoin the West’s surprise team in the new year and that he’s not in danger of losing the entire season after the Aussie 7-footer rushed himself back from surgery to be able to play on opening night, only to remove himself from the lineup after just four games.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/dailydime/_/page/dime-121228-29/year-numbers

  26. NBA Twitter:

    Peter Vecsey: When Mark Jackson took over Warriors he told David Lee perception is that he’s a stats player. Lee agreed. He promised to change it. DONE! Twitter @PeterVecsey1

    Mark Medina: Antawn Jamison to me about 5 DNP’s: “It doesn’t make sense at all. They’re pretty much telling me my services are no longer needed.” Twitter

  27. Wow! Jarrett Jack +59 on the night! Amazing! A New World Record!

    http://espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?id=400278156

    (sometimes ESPN has problems with math)