“What a game last night! Why don’t they play that way most games??” – Commish, Danville
That’s the question everybody’s mind. Do you need to be playing Dallas to play with that kind of defensive intensity? Do you need the home crowd screaming like crazy to play with that kind of energy and desperation?
If the Warriors played with 75 percent of that intensity, especially on defense, every night, they’d be in the playoffs easily. They’d be a fifth seed or something.
They overcome what really was a poor night in several areas with defense, which fueled the fastbreak and made everything all right. They got killed on the boards. They missed way too many free throws. They got carried away too often for my liking.
But, they shut Dirk down. They forced 17 turnovers, which led to 22 points. They took Dallas out of their rhythm.
Why don’t they play like that most nights? That’s the grand question. There are several reasons. One, they are just immature as a team. They need external factors to trigger such energy. They aren’t self-starters.
Another reason is their defense is tied into successful offense, at least in their minds (it’s actually the other way around in reality). When defense creates offense, they feel better about playing defense. They try harder on defense. When shots fall, they get excited and that energy tranfers. They aren’t the kind of team that just Ds up just because. They don’t pick it up on defense when their shot isn’t falling. They just aren’t made up that way, I guess.
Perhaps the No. 1 reason? Because Baron isn’t there on most nights, or isn’t as focused on defense. If he plays most nights with that kind of passion on defense, it will set the tone for the rest of the team. When he doesn’t, that sets the tone, too.
George Washington product Pops Mensah-bonsu (good catch, Daniel) is back in the game, alongside Jose Barea (remember him from the Warriors summer league team?) Greg Buckner and Austin Croshere, with Devin Harris on the court for appearances.
With the entire fourth quarter still to go, Avery Johnson appears to have called it a night. Smart move, too. The Warriors were up by 29, his Mavericks are probably tired, and he’s perhaps secretly happy the streak is over (they don’t have to talk about it anymore).
It’s a little unnerving that Nellie has Baron Davis, Andris Biedrins and Jason Richardson still in the game. It seems like Foyle, Azubuike and Sarunas — neither of which have played yet — should be in the game. Especially after Baron’s knee gave him problems last game. Sure, they have three days off, but three days and a quarter wouldn’t hurt.
I talked to Mark Cuban before the game. He hates playing the Warriors. He can’t believe his team struggles so much against the Warriors.
“When was the last time we beat the Warriors,” he joked, “like five years ago?”
Cuban, by the way, is such a great guy. He is very personable and down to Earth, and frank. Someone brought up Richardson’s spinning 3-pointer to beat them last season. You should’ve seen his face. It was like it was still fresh in his mind. I asked him wasn’t that the beauty of NBA, games like that?
Cuban: “Not when it’s your team!”
I’m not sure if Dallas is just tanking this game, or if the Warriors have just blindsided them with spectacular play, but this is turning into a route. 72-53 with just under 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
The Warriors are being outrebounded 31-13, which is normally a recipe for disaster. But they are shooting 63 percent from the field, and that’s including 4-for-11 from 3-pointer. Dallas came into the game allowing 44.7 percent shooting, ninth best in the league.
Imagine if the Warriors hadn’t missed 5 of 15 free throws. This would be in the 20s.
Did you see that move by Ellis? Oh my God, he glid across the key, got bumped halfway and still had enough hangtime to still finish on the other side of the rim.
That was an amazing display of athleticism. He has hops and hang time. He should be in the dunk contest next year.
Yeah, Matt Barnes. Way to clobber Devin Harris like that! I thought you played WR, not strong safety.
Anyway, the Warriors open the quarter with a 15-2 run. Guess how they did it? By playing smart and like a team. Pietrus hit a 3-pointer from the corner, but after he gave it up and got it back, which gave him time to set his feet. Monta Ellis on a fast break, instead of pulling up for his trademark jumper, dribbled to the FT line and drew the defender, kicking it to Pietrus for a layup.
That’s how you win games, smart basketball, not necessarily great basketball.
They say the little things are what separate the good teams from the mediocre ones. The Warriors are showing tonight why they won’t be a good team. Their decision-making sometimes, often at the wrong times, is deplorable.
For instance, the Warriors eight-point lead is down to about three. They get a stop, and Richardson comes down and fires up a 22-footer with a hand in his face and 20 seconds on the shot clock. He got up in the moment and got carried away. Why? Why? Why? I can stomach it from Monta, but not the six-year vet and leader of the team.
A few plays later, with a skimpy lead, Baron fakes an around the back pass before lobbing a no-look pass — to Eric Dampier. Why are you trying that at this stage of the game? Baron should know better than get caught up trying to please the crowd.
The worst part, the reason the Warriors are seven games under .500, is that these little mistakes kill you. It only takes four or five a game to make the difference. How many times again do they make a careless pass? Take a by-all-accounts stupid shot? Cough the ball up by trying to do too much? Take a three when they’re bricking from the outside? Force a shot because they haven’t gotten a touch in a while? Try to make the extravagant play when the simple one would be more efficient? Lose sight of their man at the wrong time? Fail to block out? Commit a foul with two seconds on teh shot clock? Take a heat-check shot after making one basket?
These dudes have to play smarter, or they don’t have a chance. Look at Dallas. Nowitzki is the best shooter on the court. Hands down. He’s gone to the hole every time. All five of his shots have been off of penetration of posting, and he’s taken five free throws in the first quarter with three asssists. That’s smart basketball. We just don’t see that from the Warriors.