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Exhibition #2: Ws vs. Lakers

This could be one of those seasons.
The Warriors lose Brandan Wright on a re-injury. Now, as if Murphy’s Law is kicking in, Monta Ellis gets hurt. Yes, it’s his ankle. Yes, his left ankle.


The initial report is that the injury isn’t bad. I’m told if it were a regular season game, Ellis would’ve played. Members of the Warriors organization are still hoping like crazy this is just regular sprained ankle, the kind that always happen. But with Ellis and his ankle history, there is no such thing as a regular sprained ankle when it comes to his left wheel.

NELSON: “I just didn’t want to fool around with it. He probably could have played if it was a regular season game. But why mess around. I would’ve been paranoid anyway.”

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Fewer than two minutes into the game, Ellis took a baseline jumper and sprained his left ankle when he stepped on a camera man’s foot. (CORRECTION: It was on a drive to the basket. He landed in the camera pit underneath the basket) He limped down court on defense while assistant coach Keith Smart screamed for the Warriors to foul intentionally. They finally did and Ellis hobbled to the bench in obvious pain. He eventually went to the locker room, under his own power but limping, right away. Stephen Curry checked in for him.
Ellis returned to the bench before the end of the first quarter. His status was uncertain until halftime, when he was ruled out of action. Curry started for Ellis in the second half. Ellis was on the bench during the third quarter, but disappeared into the locker room to ice his ankle. He was not available for comment after the game.

*******

Kelenna Azubuike was out with a sprained left ankle, which I’m told he sustained the practice before the Clippers game. Apparently, it was just a precaution. Ronny Turiaf (sore right knee), Devean George (sore left knee) and C.J. Watson (sprained right MCL) were all out.

********

It was a rigid outing for Steph Curry, who played more than 40 minutes and finished with 11 points and four assists. His shot was off (5-for-15 from the field, 1-for-5 from 3-point range) and he committed six turnovers. The Lakers roughed him up with physical defense. The help defenders were especially aggressive and physical, including Kobe Bryant.

NELSON: “He struggled. But that was good for him. Good experience.”

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Curry started off distributing. He threw two behind-the-back passes in the first quarter — the latter, off a pick-and-roll, set-up a lay-up for Biedrins who was cutting down the middle.
But as the game pressed on, things got harder. He didn’t shy away, but the physicality looked to be a factor. They trapped him and body checked him as he drove to the lane and swiped at him.
Curry never really looked comfortable. He took a couple of ill-advised shots, which looks to be the norm, and looked to be settling for the open look the moment he got one. Plus he found himself guarding some pretty strong players in Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown and even Kobe.

MORROW: “It’s good he’s seeing it. That’s why coach played him so much, so he can experience it. He’ll be fine. He needed to see that, how they’re going to play him physically. I last year, I saw that a lot. … But he’s a tough kid. He’ll be all right. He’s crafty. He knows how to get his shot off.”

This is the life Curry can look forward to as Nelson said before the game Curry would be at least a part-time starter.

NELSON: “I think I’m going to, because the kid (Curry) is so good, leave that spot open and it will be a match-up thing. We’re going to have a small backcourt anyway. We might as well start that way sometimes.”

Nelson said that he wouldn’t name a fifth starter to go with Randolph, Jackson, Ellis and Biedrins. He would instead let the match-up dictate who is the fifth starter. It would be Curry unless the match-up is to demanding defensively. Then he’d go with Kelenna Azubuike at SF (and Jax at SG) or Anthony Morrow at SG.
There aren’t many teams, especially in the west, who have shooting guards who are too imposing for Monta to even line-up against. The Lakers are one. Miami is another. Orlando is another. Portland has Brandon Roy. There are assuredly a few others. The rest, Ellis will just have to survive, because Nelson sounds hell-bent on playing Curry.

CURRY: “It’s good to hear. Makes me want to keep working hard. I’m not going to get a big head or nothing. That’s why I’m going to act like I never heard it.”

The Warriors defense is so bad anyway, the Warriors might as well put the best offensive team on the court. With Curry and Ellis together, they may give up 125 a night. With Ellis and a bigger two guard, they may give up 120 a night.
In their first preseason game, the Lakers just put up the highest total of the preseason with Bryan, Odom, Gasol and Artest combining for a mere 51 points (none of them played more than 26 minutes).

*******

Mikki Moore got banged on by Shannon Brown. It was sick. One-hand. Emphatic. He took off from pretty far. It didn’t look like he would get there. Mikki Moore tried to take the charge. I’m sure he didn’t think Brown would try to dunk it. Nor did anyone else in the Honda Center.
Somebody screamed from the crowd “Hey, Moore, you got (expletive) on!”
Moore smiled. He shrugged his shoulders and motioned his arms as if to say what can you do about it
Moore to the fan: “It happens”

********

By the way, no, Biedrins is not the next Oscar Robertson. I wrote in Wednesday’s paper that he had 17 consecutive triple-doubles. He didn’t. I meant double-doubles.

*********

Morrow was uncharacteristically off on Wednesday. He was 2-for-6 in the first half, including 0-for-2 from 3-point range. In the third quarter, he missed a wide open look from the right side. Then his hoist from the top looked like one of Jackson’s bad bricks. It clanked off the backboard to the right of the rim.

MORROW: “I was open. That thing just went off to the side.”

At one point, he was 2-for-9 from the field, 0-for-5 from 3-point range.
He got going when the game was over and finished with 25 points on 8-for-18 shooting, 3-for-9 from 3-point range.

*****

Randolph finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks and 4 turnovers. At times it looked as if he was the only one playing defense.
He rejected a Kobe Bryant fast-break dunk. Kobe got behind the defense and went up for a tomahawk dunk. Randolph came from behind to swat it away at the rim. A couple minutes later, he caught Jordan Farmar’s reverse at the rim.
His biggest block of the night was against David Monds. Randolph caught it above the rim and spiked it like a volleyball. It bounced into the stands.
I told Randolph that Bill Russell would tell him to keep that ball in play and start the break.

RANDOLPH: “I know. But sometimes, you gotta let ‘em know.”

*********

Funny scene: Just in case Curry thought he was getting big time, he was reminded that he’s just a rookie today. There was one too few locker stalls in the visiting locker room of the Honda Center. So rookies Curry and Shaun Pruitt had to share. Both of their name plates was over one cubicle, which had one chair. It was right next to the shower/bathroom.

Marcus Thompson

  • Brytex

    Geez…

  • dan-0

    Where was Azabuike tonight? Not injured I hope…

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  • Gizzm

    Stack of Crap Jack played like he wanted to be anywhere than be in GS tonight.

    Marcus, is there a problem between Jackson and Morrow?
    I thought it was my eyes, but last yr, and early this year, it seems Jackson freezes AM out of the offense, never finds him when he’s wide wide open.

    Or is Jackson just threatened by the sweet shooting, hard working, team-first, youngsteR?

  • JustPuked

    Is Randolph still hoisting from the outside or is he starting to get his down low?

  • taffy

    #2 Dan-O I read Azubuike sprained his left ankle before the Clippers game and they held him out today just to be safe…

  • feltbot

    Great report Marcus, thanks.

  • Don Nelson on Thizz

    this game was really ugly, season is over

  • jlight

    I think the warriors need pre season more than others, to many questions.

  • http://ihatemydvr.blogspot.com/ Bigmouth

    The sight of Monte on one leg like the Karate Kid was disturbing. And they definitely roughed up Curry — Kobe smacked him in the balls at one point!

  • http://ihatemydvr.blogspot.com/ Bigmouth

    Stack and Curry were both off their games.

  • Perry

    What happened to all the homers?

    Where is “Feltbot” and his “stacked roster?”

    Where is “Steve” and his undying love of Don Nelson?

    Do yourselves a favor and order League Pass and watch some real teams play, like the team we played last night. Most of you guys are not only Warrior fans, but you’re NBA fans, so do yourselves some justice, please.

    Stephen Curry will have some terrible shooting performances in 2009-2010, mark my words. In the first 2 pre-season games, his FGP% are:

    1. 20%
    2. 33%

    I know it’s pre-season, but Stephen C. is a volume scorer and an inefficient scorer. He can score in a variety of ways, but he would need at least 25 shots a game to make any kind of impact on the scoring load.

    If you looked up the term, “Volume Scorer” in Webster’s 2010 Appended Dictionary……you would find a picture of Stephen Curry.

    Prepare yourselves for some abysmal sub 40% shooting performances from our friend, Stephen Curry.

    It would be nice if Andris and Anthony R. both can average double doubles in 2009-2010, does anyone think that’s possible? I’m talking about at least 10ppg and 10 rpg for 2009-2010.

    I don’t think it will happen, I don’t expect Andris to average 10 ppg, unless he becomes more a part of the offense, which he says he’s looking at doing this year. We’ll see. He HAS improved his PPG with each progressive year in the league, so let’s see what happens.

    It’s funny, because you always hear that what this team is lacking is a legitimate inside presence at the 4. A guy who can score, rebound and defend. Right now, it appears like our front line is our best asset.

    With such a logjam in the backcourt, you would expect a few guards to shine brighter than others. But so far, it’s been injuries, dissention, negativity and bad shooting performances from our back-court players.

    We need a super-star caliber, 4th quarter back-court player. Guys like B. Roy, D. Wade, # 24……those kinds of players……not Monta, Kelenna, the 2 Stephens and an undrafter walk-on in Anthony Morrow.

    Even though it’s a pre-season game, the Lakers will still have our number the entire season, as will San Antonio, Denver, Dallas, New Orleans, Houston and Utah.

    Not to mention the road trips,…..the Eastern Conference road swings……….we are known around the league for our losing road trips. I expect that to continue in 2009-2010.

    Awful, awful organization. Don’t fool yourselves, this team is not even close.

    We’re about 5 years away from a playoff spot and 27 years away from being a winning playoff squad. I will be too old to even play basketball at Club Sport by then. I hope I can still stay in shape.

  • Perry

    *undrafed

  • Perry

    *undrafed……..sorry about the spelling errors.

  • Perry

    *undrafted……..I didn’t sleep good last night.sorry

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  • Lufty455

    Lakers are the best and they will get another ring this year.
    That is where the Warriors should want to be.
    Nellie and Rowell needs to go.
    Jackson will be acting like Al Harrington last year until he is traded.
    He played the Rowell really good….

  • sartre

    Curry actually looked good in the first quarter and to a lesser extent the second one. The Lakers television commentators commented that he could be a potential rookie of the year. His general play and shooting started to fall away in the second half, when he sometimes played 2. As Marcus rightly emphasized he got roughed up and also tired after playing nearly the entire game. This kid is good but be patient people, this was only his second game at this level and against scarily in-form NBA champions.

  • http://kenstuart.blogspot.com Ken

    Acie Law must have some sort of curse whereby he cannot be noticed by any professional sports writer.

    16 points and 11 out of 12 free throws in 20 MINUTES.

    If he had played 40 minutes, that would have been 32 points and 22 out of 24 free throws.

    Not one comment from MT about WHY the world champions had to foul Law six times in 20 minutes ?

    Law, a real NBA point guard (something unknown on the Ws), had more assists per minutes than any other Warrior.

    In 20 minutes, Jackson had 5 points.

    Law had more points per minute than any W other than Morrow.

    Note that Law had the same excellent free throw percentage in the playoffs.

  • Scotius

    Curry showed the poise of a vet early on, and I’m sure wasn’t expected to play 40+ min before Monta tweaked his ankle. Tremendous potential here.

    Re Acie Law: keep in mind a lot of his play came after the game was over, against Laker scrubs, so that extrapolation to 40 minutes doesn’t hold. When the starters were in Law had trouble handling the ball.

    Looking forward to seeing what we can do when we get Buike, Turiaf, Monta, and CJ back.

  • Fierce South

    Perry is onto something.

    I like the kid, but Stephen Curry needs to step up his shooting. Maybe he’s not used to the quickness in the NBA as opposed to college?

    Let’s see. Curry’s college FG was .467 and his 3PT FG was .412 (based on the shorter college stripe), so the fact that he’s struggling with his shot so mightily is a surprise.

    In two exhibition games, Stephen Curry has shot 2-10 and 5-15. In addition, he’s shot 1-3 and 1-5 from 3PT range.

    If you combine this with his 5 game Summer League performance, when player’s usually thrive due to lack of defense, his total FG is 33-105 or .314. His total 3PT FG is 12-37 or .324.

    What’s more bothersome is that his 2PT FG is worse than his 3PT FG. His total 2PT FG is 21-68 or .309. Maybe he’s not driving enough? Or he’s just a 3PT specialist?

    I know, this is a small sample size, but it’s not meaningless.

    He’s likely going to improve over the course of a season – how can he not, but I won’t be surprised if he continues to struggle with his shot through the first couple of months of the regular season.

    If he’s going to thrive this year, he’s got to shoot better.

  • sartre

    I agree it’s a worry Fierce. Marcus mentioned hearing that Curry was hitting jumpers at will in training camp scrimmages so let’s hope these early shooting woes are temporary. What encourages me is that his general PG play looks greatly improved from summer league to now.

  • Perry

    I agree, “Fierce” and “Sartre” ……it’s early, he’s young and his court vision, traditional PG play and defense has been encouraging. I am willing to be patient with Curry.

    I like his game, I like his ability to score in a multitude of ways……I have always said that at his best, Curry can be a Devin Harris type player, maybe a little less quick, but can score in the open court, has range from the perimeter and is creative off the dribble.

    We’ll see what happens…….

    “Fierce”……good point about Curry maybe not driving enough.

    I’ve never understood why young players settle so much for perimeter shots. I always say, “Take it to the basket” “Put the pressure on the defense.”

    Establish yourself in the league as a guy who gets to the basket. The refs will respect you more, you will get more calls, you will get “And Ones”……

    That would make defenders sag off you a little bit and you will keep them honest. That way, you can open up your perimeter game as well.

    I would like to see Curry, Ellis, Morrow, Azubuike, Maggette all get to the basket more this year.

  • sartre

    Great points, Perry. In some ways what worried me most watching the game were how easily the Lakers front court had their way with our defense and also Jack’s continuing poor shooting and lack of assertiveness.

  • feltbot

    Perry, Curry had a lights out shooting % in college. Everyone in the league projects him to be a great shooter. I wonder where your confidence that he can’t shoot comes from?

    His heart is pounding a little fast right now, the game is coming at him like a bullet train. Give it a little time.

    I always notice that the haters run rampant after bad losses. Wouldn’t your points carry more weight if you tried to make them after a win? I know they would with me.

  • feltbot

    This Lakers team, with the addition of Artest, has one of the best defenses ever seen in the history of the league. They are going to make a lot of playoff teams look silly, not just the Warriors.

    I am backing off my more optimistic predictions for the season (http://feltbot.com/), but not because of this game.

  • deano

    The Lakers are great, and looked great last night. Losing to them is to be expected. The Warriors’ season is not over.

    Ken @ #18: Law’s line looked very good, except for the lack of assists. Last night, none of the Warriors were collecting assists; but Law will need to start dishing with success soon in order be considered as a viable PG.

  • longwayhome23

    Some people think that Nelson should go. But this game showed that its the ability/talent gap between the W’s and the elite teams that should be our main worry.