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Observations from Opener

* The Warriors’ best lineup was obvious Wednesday night, and it featured Stephen Jackson at point guard. Nelson went to Jax, Azubuike, Maggette, Harrington and Biedrines less than three minutes into the game. He rode that five (Andris and Ronny Turiaf were fairly close to splitting the minutes at center) hard in the opener. Jackson played all 48. Al and Kelenna logged 42 and Maggette would’ve had 40+ if not for foul trouble.
There is no way Nellie can do that on a consistent basis. Jax likes to say he plays the whole game, but there is a huge difference between 40 minutes and 48 minutes. He did it last night guarding Chris Paul AND David West, as the Warriors switched on the pick and rolls.
Nellie said before the game that Al can play 7 minutes hard before getting tired, and he doesn’t play well tired. We saw some of that as he forced some bad shots and missed some obvious rotations. Brandan Wright didn’t play at all, but that can’t keep up. Harrington needs to be down to 33-35 minutes. Maggette was a monster, but no telling how long his body can hold up playing that hard and physically. His performance last night was on a sore right hammy.
“The issue with Maggette is how many games can he play,” Nellie said. “Much like Baron, he doesn’t practice very much. I’m concerned about it a little bit.”
Nellie may have found his best lineup, but it won’t do him any good to run it into the ground. They were aided by the crowd and opening night adrenaline.

* DeMarcus Nelson looked pretty good, sans the near turnover in the final seconds. He is indeed a competitor and he is so physical. That bucket in the lane over Tyson Chandler was Baron-esque the way he used his strength to brush off Chandler’s hack. When I talked to him before the game, he was so excited to be making his debut in Oakland. But he didn’t look like he was trying to do too much for the most part. That says something.
“I made some positive plays,” DeMarcus said, “so we’ll build on that and move forward.”

* After all that talk about wanting more action, Al has to perform better. He wasn’t awful, especially when you factor in his seven rebounds and three steals. But his shot selection wasn’t good and he has to finish better. The spotlight is on him now. He needs to perform better than 13 points on 5 for 17 shooting.

* Interesting stat: the Warriors had 18 assists, not bad (20 is a good night). But they were spread out. Jack led the way with 5. That shows good ball movement

* With Baron in LA, JR in Charlotte and MP in Orlando, did you ever think the Warriors would still be losing games at the free throw line? C’mon.

Marcus Thompson

  • EJ

    Nellie’s decision to play a one-armed Watson over Williams says volumes about what he thinks of Marcus.

  • haastheman

    It may have been the best line-up last night, but it can’t be the best line-up for the year. We need to have a real pg in the game. the last 50 sec of the game were pitiful. After nearly turning the ball over with the game on the line, they turn around and turn it over. Yeah some of that is chemistry, but Jax looked horrible in the last two min. Why can’t we see the young players play! Why did we give Nellie an extension if were going to keep drafting young players. The players we draft won’t play.

  • jsl

    Same ol’ Nellie: Play a 6-7 man rotation, wear ‘em all out so that in crunch time they inevitably fail, repeat every game so that by mid-season everyone’s burned out, and keep ALL young, big guys on the bench. Result: Three quarters of fun BBall and total failure when the game’s on the line. Same as it ever was.

    Sorry, but we’ve seen this movie before. If Nellie can’t coach — or even play — the young guys, he should just get out of the way.

  • commish

    So after the first game is the glass half full or empty? Full, in general, but let’s give Harrington his wish and trade his ass for a good PG if we can get one. Harrington is just too small to defend and or score on bigger PF’s.

    Also, obviously it is going to be a long season if Nellie breaks his “promise” to play his younger studs and not overplay his “Faves”. Bukie was off the chart. But my only knock is on Neelie for bringing Nelson back in at the end of game destroying the momentum and chemistry of the team that was doing well.

  • JustPuked

    Mostly solid D, the offense is going to be shaky until they get a reliable point guard. Nellie lived up to his short rotation MO. Harrington’s 5 for 17 is who we thought he was…a guy with great looking moves but shackled with an inability to close the deal. Maybe he needs some Viagra?

  • john

    From S.I’s Marty Burns:

    Marty Burns >
    INSIDE THE NBA
    Warriors becoming Team Turmoil

    Story Highlights
    Al Harrington’s trade request is the latest distraction for the Warriors
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    Forward Al Harrington has tired of playing for Warriors coach Don Nelson.
    Forward Al Harrington has tired of playing for Warriors coach Don Nelson.
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    He used to be known as Baby Al, a reference to his having made the jump to the NBA straight out of a New Jersey high school in 1998.

    Warriors forward Al Harrington is no teenager anymore, and he’s apparently not kidding about his rift with coach Don Nelson and his request to be traded.

    “It’s beyond repair,” a source close to Harrington said Wednesday of his relationship with Nelson. “He’ll continue to play because he has to. But he’s never going to see eye to eye with Nellie.”

    So it goes for the Warriors, the NBA’s newest Team Turmoil (move over, Knicks). The latest tremor to shake the Bay Area’s team comes courtesy of Harrington, a 10-year veteran. Unhappy with his reduced minutes, his role as a spot-up shooter and what he considered to be disrespectful treatment under Nelson last season, he (along with his agent, Dan Fegan) met with Warriors vice president Chris Mullin on Tuesday to officially state his desire to play somewhere else.

    The incredible thing about Harrington’s trade request is that it came a day before the Warriors’ season opener (a 108-103 loss to the Hornets) and just a few days after he was named one of three team captains, along with Stephen Jackson and Andris Biedrins.

    In a sign of just how strained the relationship has become, Harrington even suggested that Nelson purposely named him a captain to make him look bad if he were to come out a few days later with a trade request.

    Only in the NBA.

    And these days, it seems, only in Golden State.

    Consider just some of the rather bizarre events that have transpired in the Bay Area since June:

    • Baron Davis decided to opt out of the final year (and $17.8 million) of his contract and bolt as a free agent to the Clippers, a move Nelson termed “a kick in the teeth” in an interview with SI.com last month. It was later reported that Mullin had tentatively agreed to a three-year, $39 million extension with Davis only to have it nixed by team president Robert Rowell.

    • Monta Ellis, who was supposed to take over for Davis at point guard, wrecked his ankle in a moped accident just weeks after signing a six-year, $66 million contract. Ellis was suspended 30 games by the team for violating the terms of his contract (and lying about the cause of the injury), a penalty he says he now plans to appeal. The incident again raised the appearance of a front-office rift, with Rowell publicly admitting that he had overruled Mullin on the latter’s arguments for greater leniency with Ellis.

    • Marcus Williams, the young point guard acquired in a trade with the Nets, wound up in Nelson’s doghouse shortly after arriving. Williams, a 2006 first-round pick, did not play Wednesday while the Warriors used undrafted rookie DeMarcus Nelson as their starting point guard.

    • Don Nelson, who as recently as two months ago was said to have one foot out the door, signed a two-year contract extension Wednesday. Meanwhile, Mullin — the guy who hired Nellie to resuscitate the franchise two years ago — is in the final year of his contract with no extension in the works.

    It is the last bit of news that led to Harrington’s formal trade demand. It’s no secret that Baby Al and the Mad Scientist had begun to feud last season. Harrington believes Nelson made him a scapegoat when the Warriors struggled, and belittled him in the media and in front of teammates.

    Harrington reportedly talked to Nelson about his frustrations over the summer, but the two apparently have not been able to find common ground. The situation reached a nadir last week when Harrington refused to reenter a preseason game against a Lithuanian pro team with five minutes left.

    With the news that Nelson was about to sign on with the Warriors for two more years, Harrington decided he couldn’t stay quiet any longer.

    “Al’s beef is with the way he has been treated,” the source said. “It wasn’t so much [the playing time or reduced role]. It was the comments and [other stuff]. Nellie basically treated him like a rookie.”

    In fairness, it should be noted that Harrington is a normally affable sort who had a legitimate gripe last season about not playing more often given that he was one of the Warriors’ better players. (Harrington averaged 27 minutes a game, an eight-year low.) He also has played out of position, often at center in Nelson’s small-ball schemes, mostly without complaint.

    Meanwhile, Harrington has in recent days seen the Warriors begin negotiations on a lucrative contract extension for Jackson, who came over with him in the same trade with Indiana nearly two years ago, as well as the just completed deal for Nelson.

    A Warriors team source agreed that Harrington has issues with Nelson, but suggested he also might have financial motives in mind. Harrington can opt out of the final year (and $10 million) of his contract after the season and become a free agent. The news of Nelson’s extension, the source said, might have prompted concerns from Harrington that he wouldn’t have a chance to bulk up his stats this season to bolster his free-agent value. Even better, a trade would help Harrington gain leverage since his new team would be under more pressure to re-sign him after having given up assets to get him.

    “This is all about money,” said the source, who wished to remain anonymous. “Fegan has gotten to Al. … He’s convinced Al [a trade] is the only way you’re going to get paid.” (Fegan declined comment to SI.com.)

    The question now is, Would Golden State consider trading Harrington? Mullin won’t comment. But it’s no secret that the Warriors are actively seeking a point guard, and Harrington is good enough to attract a decent one in return.

    The Pacers, for example, have been trying to trade the banished Jamaal Tinsley for months. Harrington played his first six NBA seasons in Indiana (and another half season in Indiana during the 2006-07 campaign) and has said before that he enjoyed his time there.

    But a Harrington-Tinsley trade faces some potential snags. It would require the Pacers to include at least one extra player to make the deal work under salary-cap rules. Also, the Warriors might have concerns about Tinsley’s injury history (he has missed 165 games over the past five years) and his lack of outside shooting. With a contract that pays him $21.5 million for the next three seasons, Tinsley might represent too big a risk.

    The other reason to think a Harrington-Tinsley deal won’t happen is because it hasn’t happened yet. Mullin, a friend of Pacers boss Larry Bird, surely by now has a good read and solid opinion about Tinsley. Unless the Harrington situation has changed the calculus, he appears to have decided it’s better at least for now to keep looking.

    Some Warriors fans might disagree with Mullin about the need for Tinsley, but there is probably not much argument about Harrington. To them, it is simple. Harrington is being paid $9.2 million this season to play basketball. He needs to put aside his frustrations and do his job.

    Indeed, Harrington got a mixed reception during pregame introductions from the home crowd at Oracle Arena on Wednesday. He then went out and contributed 13 points and seven rebounds in 42 minutes while taking on the main defensive chores against Hornets All-Star power forward David West. However, Harrington shot only 5-of-17 from the field, and he missed a key free throw and a wide-open, potential game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds.

    Harrington will need to play better in coming days — and certainly make more shots — if he wants to increase his value on the trade market and stay in good graces with Golden State fans. If not, he’ll be hearing more boos — and a lot more of that old Baby Al nickname.

  • Tony M

    AB was the player that really killed us at the line…..i think he’ll be fine unless he starts playing head games with himself…..62% – 65% is where he will wind up

    Harrington looked thoroughly exhausted most of the game….it seemed that Nellie was trying to prove a point “hey dude, you’re not effective when you are on the court that long”….kinda surprising considering he has come into training camp in phenomenal shjape two years running….and his training camp scrimmage domination obviously does not translate to the game…Al def has the ability to carry a team for a full qtr, not a full game….

    Would’ve been nice to get the victory….

    BDub BDub BDub BDub…..

    http://www.montasmoped.com

  • garlicboy

    Al was horrible 5-17 is horrible, 7 rebs given the amount of minutes he played is horrible. Al played like crap last night.

  • Le

    Tinsley deal is a disaster. I say we keep Harrington; he plays hard all year because he’s a free agent when the season is over. At the same time, he helps us win games. Let him go after the year is over and free up cap space.
    Bukie was aggressive is and good off bench. Keep him there and he will win 6 man awards.
    Maggette was better than I expected. If it was for those awful foul calls on him, he would have played more – who knows, could be the difference maker and we win the close game.
    Here is where I’m confused, why Nellie designed a play for Demarcus Nelson out of the timeout (when he threw the ball away). He’s a rookie in his very first NBA game on opening night. When the game on the line, why not Maggette? Jackson? Harrington? Buike?
    Finally, Nellie comes to his senses and designs a play for Maggette out of the next time out. Unfortunately, W’s couldn’t execute and turns the ball over.

    Grade: B
    W’s played well enough to win but gave the game away by not hitting critical free throws and hitting wide open shots. Keep in mind the Hornets is probably the 2nd best team in the West and played a solid game.

  • Oregonwarriorfan

    I agree with Jsl. What I really want to see is some development of the young players. I think making the playoffs this season is probably out of reach, so my excitement is anticipating where this team can be in a couple of years as the current strong teams in the Western Conference age and weaken.

    I love Nellie; he is the best thing to happen to the Warriors in the last 30 years. But if he doesn’t give the kids playing time this year, I’m going to be pissed.

  • EJ

    Marcus,

    What would it take for the Cavs to part with Gibson? I think he’s be a great fit for the W’s. Maybe Gibson and Pavlovic for Harrington and a pick?

  • http://InsideBayArea Stephen Russell

    Warrior fans, you’ve not had a championship since 1975! You’ve not had a sniff of a championship since 1976! This Chris Mullin, Don Nelson no defense, no rebound, run and gun, “pick-up” gym rat squad offers nothing but another door mat year! The time has come for these to thieves to get out of town! Ownership and the Warrior fan base is being robbed by these guys!

  • http://farmhouse1983.com Dan

    This is without a doubt the best Warriors blog going. Good work.

  • Marcus

    EJ,

    Quit reaching.

  • EJ

    OK, what about Earl Watson? haha.