Postgame Tidbits (vs. Charlotte)

I wasn’t at the game tonight, but there is still a lot to note.

* So, the Warriors are going to the youth movement, right. So please explain to me why Jackson played 42+ minutes? Why did Nellie go pretty much six deep the whole night? With Crawford and Monta out of the lineup, Belinelli played 21:36. Morrow played 15:57. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose. Sure, Watson played a team-high 44 minutes, but the other two guards must play more. That’s what he’s sitting vets for, right?

* Seven minutes for Randolph is inexplicable

* So Jackson is the next vet in line to get the game off. Nelson told the team at shootaround that he will bench Jax for Sunday’s game. So, suddenly, the shortage of SFs is not too bad to sit Jax. That, or the heat brought on by Crawford’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, has forced Nellie into a corner and now he’s got to sit other vets.

* Why was Jax even inbounding the ball on the final play? Not only have we seen him fail in that position before (wasn’t it opening night against the Hornets when he threw the ball away trying to hit Maggette?), but he leads the league in TOs. Plus, wasn’t he the leading scorer? Should he be taking the last shot, not setting it up?

* There was a time I wanted Emeka Okafor. That time is long gone. He got six years, $72 million. That’s $3 million a year more than Biedrins.


Crawford the Scapegoat?

Nelson’s decision to sit one of his players has drawn some ire. Jamal Crawford would never say it publicly, so his agent said it for him. He is not happy.

“Jamal wants to play. That’s what he came here for. If the coach doesn’t want to play him, he should have a valid reason why he doesn’t want to play him.”

“As an agent and a longtime fan of the Warriors. I totally disagree with this.”

It must be noted that Crawford has an opt out and this could have an impact. There is no question the two best scenarios for Crawford is to sign an extension with the Warriors or to opt out and sign a long-term deal.
At the very least, he wants to see other veterans benched, too. Goodwin is concerned that Crawford may look like he’s unhappy and pouting, which would hurt his image and sign-ability. Crawford took the high road.

“I’m a professional. I’m not trying to cause a stir. I’m going to do whatever coach thinks is best for the team. I’m going to always show up for my team.”

Personally, I thought it was odd that Crawford is the one to sit though Jackson leads the league in minutes. Nellie said he doesn’t have other options at small forward, but what did they do when Jax was out? Just not have a SF?
Maggette and Azubuike are players who can play the position. Even Anthony Morrow or Randolph, who Nellie said he eventually sees as a SF down the line.
Does Crawford have a legitimate gripe? What do you think of Nellie’s decision to sit Crawford?


Inside Practice (Feb. 26)

* Nellie said he had his second good practice, though the average age, as he pointed out, was about 23.
Jax was not around on Thursday because he was having emergency dental work done. Swingman Corey Maggette did not practice either. He was seen by Dr. Belzer, who confirmed he had a sprained right hand. He is listed as day-to-day.

* Guard Monta Ellis did not practice, though such seemed like a possibility as of Wednesday. He won’t be available for Friday’s game — which was also a possibility as of Wednesday. He left the team for Mississippi on Thursday after practice. A team official said he had to deal with a family emergency and would re-join the team at some point on the coming road trip.
But Ellis, who I saw in the weight room, did take some time to engage in a hilarious one-on-one with coaching assistant Rico Hines.
The verbal jabs were more entertaining than the play. Ellis was taking jumpers, occasionally pulling out a few crossovers, trying to embarrass Hines. One time, Ellis went through a series of fancy dribbles before taking a step-back jumper. He missed, but he still had words for Rico:
“I had you skating like you was at a skating rink.”
Hines was game on the court and in the banter. He was calling out his moves to on-lookers, telling Marcus Williams and Anthony Morrow to stay and watch him dog Monta.
“You ain’t never had to guard someone like me,” Hines shouted, “I’m from the playground.”
Hines knocked down about a few jumpers in Monta’s grill and posted Monta up a few times. One time, Hines backed him down and dropped in a righty hook.
“You couldn’t do that again if you tried,” Ellis said.
Ellis got hot from the corner, knocked down three straight.
“I told him to get a paper, see who signed for $66 million.”
Ellis won three of four games. And Hines was sweating much more and breathing a lot harder at the end.

* Another competition going on: Crawford v. Belinelli in a game of HORSE. They split a pair of matches. Belinelli even tried a 360-dunk, drawing some cheers from his onlooking teammates.

* Nellie dropped an interesting surprise after practice about Brandan Wright’s left shoulder injury:
“I don’t know what to tell you or where to go with that. He did go visit some doctor or some clinic or something. I don’t think they are going to do surgery. I think he’s progressing but whether he can play or not, I haven’t seen that. Nobody told me any thing.”

Wright and surgery in the same sentence? When did that happen? Is that Nellie letting something slip or being 68 and messing up the details? The stuff about him seeing a specialist is news, too. The Warriors had only said that he would be working with the team’s athletic training staff.
According to a team official, Wright was at the facility Thursday working on his shoulder. He’s improving and closer to basketball related work.

“He’s not ready to play now. A guy who’s sat out as long as he did, he’s got two or three weeks of work to get back to where he was. I don’t know that we can … had he been with me all year and had this opportunity to play, we could’ve had some interesting match-ups with a frontline that could play together in a year or two. But, uh, pretty hard to do at this point.”

* Another Nellie quotable:

“I told Randolph today when he came in, ‘I wish he had bought into the way he is playing now two months ago. He would be farther along.”


Pregame Tidbits (at Clippers)

* Remember Aresenio Hall’s “Things that make you go hmmmmmmm”? Here’s one. So, Andris is playing. But he is coming off the bench. Work him back into the rotation. As my co-hort Janny Hu queried, “doesn’t that make you wonder why Monta Ellis came back in the starting line-up.” Hmmmmmmmmm

* Buike is also starting at PF. Belinelli is taking Monta’s place at starting off guard.

* Tried to catch up with BD before the game. To no avail. Will after the game. He’d probably be happy to see me, the way he’s getting destroyed up here. Not for no reason, I might add.

* Dunleavy is trying to run with Nellie. Guard Mardy Collins is starting at PF. Eric Gordon is starting at SF.


Monta Ellis out 1 to 2 weeks

The Warriors announced that Monta Ellis’ left ankle has stiffened up on him again and they are going to shut him down for at least a week, maybe two.
His ankle has been giving him problems off and on. According to a team official, it is an expected side effect to Ellis’ recovery process. My guess is that Marco Belinelli will start in his place (Nellie loves Belinelli), but C.J. Watson is also an option. As is Anthony Randolph, which would allow Azubuike to start at off guard.

The official release:

“Guard Monta Ellis, who has experienced occasional stiffness in his left ankle since returning to action on January 23, including during last night’s game against Oklahoma City, will be sidelined the next 1-2 weeks. During this time, the 6’3″ guard will continue advanced rehabilitation on a daily basis with the Warriors’ Athletic Training Staff.”


Postgame Tidbits (vs. Lakers)

I normally only do these for road games, but there was too much happening not to post something.

** The first thing that stood out was how Stephen Jackson blasted Nellie. We asked him after the game if he was tired. Here was his response:

“I was definitely tired, coming off of this break. And at the end of the third, end of the fourth, I was definitely tired. Some of my shots were a little short. It kind of showed. He gave me a blow at the wrong time. I could’ve used a blow a little earlier. But you know, I did what I could. I was definitely tired, though.”

Jackson was clearly winded. During one fourth quarter timeout, he took a long time to even walk to the bench. He stayed under the basket by Lakers bench doubled over, trying to catch his breath. Not only was he trying get his offense going (he took 24 shots), but he also had to defend Kobe. He wasn’t going to ask out, but he didn’t hide his feelings that the coach should have pulled him.

“No, that’s not me. That’s not my personality. That’s not who I am. I was trying to find a way to get through it in the timeouts and stuff. Coming out of that break took a little toll on me. Normally I can play these minutes no problem. But tonight it kind of got me to a little bit.”

“Yeah, I think I could’ve come out when he came out. He got a lot of rest. I think the best thing to do was to take me out when he came out of the game. Obviously, I didn’t want to come out at all. But I think for the most part I played great “D” on him. I made him take a lot of tough shots.”

It’s about time somebody in the organization called Nellie on it. You mean putting Belinelli or Morrow in the game in the first half would’ve killed the Warriors chances of winning? I don’t buy it. In trying to squeeze out every win, he ends up costing the Warriors’ wins. When the Lakers started to gain the momentum in the third quarter, Jackson was exhausted and had nothing left. That turned out to be crunch time. If Jackson had more than the 30 seconds of rest at the end of the second quarter, he might’ve had more energy at what turned out to be the most crucial moment in the game.

** Monta didn’t look good down the stretch. Nellie put the ball in his hands in the fourth quarter. He had a rough final five minutes.

4:04 He missed a finger roll a the rim. Ariza, who had hit a 3-pointer before Ellis’ missed, wound up open again after Ellis’ miss, and he nailed it. The Warriors trailed 111-109 just 41 seconfs after they led by four

2:47 He committed a silly reach in foul on Odom inside. Of course, Odom made the basket. The three-point play put the Warriors down 116-112

2:05 The Warriors next offensive possession after his missed 3-pointer, he gets caught in the air and tries to make a pass from the left wing to the top of the key whille off balance. Not only does Odom intercept the pass, by Maggette fouls him. It was called a clear-path foul and Odom got two free throws, which he made and put the Lakers up 120-112

1:31 The next offensive possession, with the Warriors’ desperately needing a bucket, Ellis put his head down and went to the basket. He wound up taking some wild flip shot over with his back to the basket. Kobe came down and nailed a fade-away to seal it.

Oddly enough, Kobe had some noted praise for Ellis after the game:

“He’s phenomenal. He’s one of my favorites in the league to watch,” Bryant said of Ellis. “He’s explosive. He’s still explosive. I don’t care what people say up here. They’re not guarding him. He is quick. He can elevate, finish at the rim and he can shoot. I’m really excited to see him develop as his career goes on.”

** So, Jackson took 24 shots, missed 14. Ellis took 18 shots, missed 11. Randolph took 13 shots, Maggette 16. Crawford, who made his first five baskets, was 6-for-10? Turiaf was 6-for-7? What ever happened to feeding the hot man?
Crawford had 14 in the first quarter. He was feeling it. Nellie pulled him 30 seconds into the second quarter and didn’t bring him back until 3:59 left. He got iced by his own coach!

** Jackson picked up another technical foul. That’s 15, though only 14 counts toward the suspension count. Two more, and he gets an automatic one-game suspension. Jackson, who normally earns his techs, said he didn’t think he earned the T tonight.

“I have said a lot of things to referees to get techs. I just think my reputation gives them a quick whistle. I definitely don’t think I deserved that one tonight. Because I didn’t use any profanity and I didn’t direct anything toward him. I play with a lot of emotion and a lot of refs that have watched me play know I play with a lot of emotion. And as everyone knows in this game, I know how to get technical fouls. That one today, I don’t think I deserved it. But it is what it is. I’ve got to be more cautious so I don’t get suspended.

“I’ve been trying my best, but you know… I play with a lot of emotion. When I feel like I’m not getting a fair shot, obviously, my emotions flare up. But I have been channeling myself not to say any profanity or direct anything towards the ref in order to get a tech. I don’t think I gave enough disrespect to that one today, but it is what it is. I’ve got to deal with it.”

** Randolph looked special tonight. No one on the team brings the combination of intensity and athleticism that he brings. He goes all out and he’s physically spectacular.
I asked Odom after the game about Randolph. He was impressed by Randolph’s follow dunk early in the game.
“He’s got way more athleticism than I’ve ever had. That tip-dunk, my head was right here,” Odom said, pointing to his waist. “I would love to work out with him.”

“It’s like looking in the mirror a little. He’s also 6-11, he’s left-handed and he can put the ball on the floor. He’s two times as athletic as I was at that age. He should set his goals high. He has All-Star potential, Hall of Fame potential, with that size, his ability to put the ball on the floor, he can shoot the three, he can pass. If he stays focused, the sky is the limit for him.”

There were no shortage of times where Randolph crashed the offensive glass or took a shot inside, then hustle all the way down court and came up with a block, or nearly hurt himself trying. He can impact both ends of the court, and because of his athleticism, he produces almost by default.
Even when Andris gets back, there’s no reason for him to not be on the court. Even when Brandan Wright comes back, Nellie still as to get Randolph on the court. From what I’m told, that message is being sent down from the executive suites.

“I was just trying to come out and play hard like I have been the last couple of games. I’m just trying to keep good on faith with coach and hopefully he’ll put me in the game. I just have to keep working hard and just remember how it was in the beginning of the season. I just have to keep on working. Hopefully things will look up and we’ll win some more games.”

** Belinelli, in his first game back, made both his 3-pointers, had four assists and a steal in 15 minutes tonight.