5

DJ Mbenga, a Warrior no longer

The DJ Mbenga experiment ended after 16 games when the Warriors waived the 7-foot center Sunday, beating the deadline before his deal would have become guaranteed and saving themselves roughly $500,000 in salary costs.

Executive vice president Chris Mullin had said previously that the deadline “probably will just come and go” for Mbenga; instead, the Warriors reversed course, coming to a different decision over the weekend in the interest of greater flexibility. Both Mullin and coach Don Nelson stressed that Mbenga did nothing wrong from an on-court standpoint.

The move opens up a roster spot that the Warriors could potentially fill with an unbalanced trade, or by signing a player from the NBA Development League — something they did last January with Kelenna Azubuike — or by signing someone to a 10-day contract as an audition.

In the meantime, rookie center Kosta Perovic will be recalled from the Warriors’ D-League affiliate, the Bakersfield Jam.

4

Advantage CP3

There are not too many times you are going to see Baron get totally outplayed with the game on the line. One of those times was Friday night.
Chris Paul schooled Baron in the second half, specifically the fourth quarter, when Baron normally shines. Look at these fourth-quarter lines:

Chris Paul – 11 points, 5-for-10 FGs, 4 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers
Baron Davis – 2 points, 0-for-3 FGs, 2 assists, 0 steals, 1 turnover

Don Nelson: “Chris Paul is as close to Steve Nash as you’re going to get for a while and he’s still so young, so he’s going to be quite the player for a long, long time.”

In the first half, Davis (20 points, 6 assists) got the better of Paul (9 points, 7 assists). Byron Scott started off with Paul defend Davis, which was a mistake. In the second half, Paul was on Ellis for the most part and a bigger guard (Morris Peterson often) defended BD. Still, Davis guarded Paul, and he was wearing Baron out, running him off screens and killing him with those midrange floaters.

Baron Davis: “You’ve gotta pay attention to him at all times. He’s always looking to pass and has some good shooters around him. He did a good job of spreading the ball around and they knocked down shots and that’s how they were able to break that lead and get it wide open.”

This gives Chris Paul a leg up on the All-Star bid, if he didn’t already have it. Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady, based on the third returns, will be the starting Western Conference guards. Steve Nash is a lock to be voted on by the coaches as a reserve. That means one spot left for a guard, two at the most.
The coaches must pick two guards, two forwards and a center and two wild cards. They could use a wild card to pick another guard. But there are a lot of forwards who are more deserving (Duncan, Carmelo, Nowitzki, Boozer, David West, Shawn Marion, Josh Howard), so it is likely the two wild cards will go to forwards. If it does go to another guard, Brandon Roy, Tony Parker and Allen Iverson will be in the discussion.
But if it does come down to one guard spot, it has to go to Chris Paul. His team is better. He handled Baron head up. The All-Star Game is in his backyard.
Advantage CP3

5

Back-up PG idea

My man from Hoopsworld, Preetom Bhattacharya, just dropped a good idea on me. Remeber Darius Washington from the San Antonio Spurs. He lit the Warriors up during the preseason. He was good enough for the Spurs to part ways with Beno Udrih.
Anyway, he’s available. San Antonio cut him, so now he’s out on the market. He’s undersized (Nellie likes big guards), and he’s not a good shooter. But he’s quick and he’s a true point. Most important, he’s cheap.

0

Big Mistake

Unlike most coaches, which put their PG on Monta Ellis and have a bigger defender on Baron Davis, Hornets coach Byron Scott said he was starting with Chris Paul guarding B.D. That won’t last long.
First play of the game, Baron posted up CP3. Easy two.
Why Scott would subject his star PG, the catalyst of his offense, to such a defensive task is beyond me. Just plain ol’ pride.

8

Dallas Wants it More

I knew this wasn’t going to be a good game for the Warriors. Everything was against them coming into Dallas and winning Wednesday.
For starters, two days of partying didn’t help. Plus, pulling out the first two games on the road trip took away the urgency.
Add to that, it’s Dallas – a team they’ve owned. The Warriors have already conquered Maverick Mountain. There’s no real need to get up for that again. This game means much more to Dallas than it does to the Warriors.
The Mavericks want this game bad. If they lose to the Warriors again, they will keep having to hear about the Warriors’ dominance the rest of the year. They’re going to hear it anyway, because this is just regular season. But to go 2-0 against their nemesis would do a little bit to change the subject.
The Warriors, on the other hand, lose little. If they go down today (the lead is only 11 right now), they walk away from a three-game road trip 2-1. That’s great. And they still have the postseason upset to hang their hats on when it comes to Dallas.
Just looking at the first half, they aren’t playing with the same hunger and urgency that they usually show against this team, that they showed at Denver and Houston.
But, then again, they waited until the 4th quarter to do so. Don’t look now, the Warriors are down just 8 at the half.