Swingman Stephen Jackson has been willing to share his true feelings with whoever asks — starting with a DJ at a summer block party in New York.
Now, Jackson is ready to ease off the gas a bit. With the season approaching, and him seemingly realizing he isn’t helping his trade prospects, Jackson told reporters at practice Saturday that he’s going to tone down the rhetoric.
JACKSON: “Me saying something isn’t helping anything, and you all asking me questions isn’t helping anything. It’s time to be quiet and see what happens.”
Of course, the cease-fire didn’t start until after he left the practice court. Because after he said this, he had a one-on-one with my man Marc Spears of Yahoo!Sports on Friday after practice and revealed he has been “scarred” and he thinks the differences between he and the Warriors are irreconcilable.
Saturday, his spirits seemed to be up. He actually smiled on the court, and encouraged his teammates, instead of walking around looking as if he were chewing brussell sprout gum. Before the game, he got off some trash talk to forward Corey Maggette in a 3-point shooting competition. He followed by chatting with a few media members, myself included (which he almost never does), talking about his new, low haircut. Just before the third quarter began, he and Monta Ellis and center Andris Biedrins were laughing about something.
JACKSON: “I wasn’t born last night. I was born at night. I’m not as dumb as people think. I’m a smart guy. Sometimes I might say some things that people don’t expect because it was on my mind. But I know what’s right and wrong. I know what I need to do to continue to build my reputation in this league as a player and as a man. I think by keeping my composure, it’s going to help me and not take away from me being a great basketball player.”
Jack had a test in the third quarter. Pesky Kings SF Omri Casspi got under his skin. Jack wasn’t gettng the calls he thought he should’ve gotten and did quite a bit of conversing with the refs. Though he missed eight of his final nine shots, he won the emotional battle.
He took some decent uncalled fouls gong to the basket, and didn’t vent on the refs. He argued with them, and had a couple of spaz moments. But overall he maintained his composure.
He got into a battle with Kings SF Omri Casspi in the third. Jackson was convinced the refs were letting Casspi get away with slapping his arm away. Jackson did all he could to complain to the refs without losing his cool. It’s funny to see him getting ready to scream, then pausing, taking a deep breath, and talking all calmly. How long will he be able to keep that up?
JACKSON: “It’s something I’ve got to work on. I’ve got to concentrate on playing well through the whole game and not letting stuff the referees do, or something not going my way, get me out my game. It’s going to be a process because I’m a fiery guy and I don’t take no mess from nobody, even when I feel like I’m getting screwed. But I think I did a good job tonight. Hopefully I can continue to build on that and not go back to my old Jack ways.”
If he has indeed turned the page, that would be a huge relief for the franchise. More than anything, they need to end the drama and focus on the court. If the young players are to maximize their potential, they need an optimal learning environment.
They also clearly need Jackson on the court (IMHO). This team is going to struggle anyway. Without Jackson, they will have a much harder time.
Nelson played Jackson the entire game, since Jax has totaled 9:20 in the last three games. Nelson said overall he thought Jax “had a strong performance.” He 22 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, a turnover and a block.
JACKSON: “I think I’m in better shape than they thought I was. Hopefully I don’t have to do that a lot. Hopefully we can get more guys to contribute and I don’t have to play 40. But it felt good. It felt good to be back on the court. Another chance for me to work on my composure with the refs and just try to stay into my game. So I think I got an A+ tonight.”
Got bad info about Ronny Turiaf. He’s not even in Sacramento tonight. My bad.
I heard from a few people that when Steph Curry came to Sacramento for predraft workouts, Tyreke gave him the business. It’s no surprise, either, as Tyreke is a beast. It’s a bad match-up for Curry, no doubt. Evans is 6-foot-6, 220 (which, btw, is the same size as Corey Maggette, minus five pounds) and super athletic. Curry is 6-foot-3, 185 pounds.
Evans was getting anywhere on the floor he wanted. The Warriors had to put Jax on him at one point. Curry wound up guarding Kevin Martin instead (so did Monta Ellis to start the game, by the way; Morrow guarded Evans). Curry had fouls in 13 first-half minutes. Defending KMart is a tough task for a rookie point guard.
NELSON: “It was kind of hard match-up for a rookie point guard. He had a nightmare out there. … There are teams like that, that are going to take advantage of post-ups and try to punish our small-guard lineup. And we understand that.”
I will say one thing about Curry: he competes. He’s not afraid to throw his body in the way. You can definitely see the effort. That’s more than what you can say about some of the Warriors players.
Monta Ellis is struggling putting the ball in the hole. He missed 8 of his first 9 shots and finished 4-for-17 from the field with 8 points. He said he got the looks he wanted, they just didn’t go down. He said he’s not worried. Just preseason.
NELSON: “He’s still got 10 days.”
Jason Thompson clearly looked like the best young PF on the floor Saturday. Yes, Anthony Randolph played.
Thompson used his girth and strength well. He kept plays alive, cleaned up well and finished strong. Meanwhile, Randolph struggled to get anything going and was often outnumbered as he crashed the boards.
Thompson finished with 20 points, 20 rebounds (8 off.), 5 assists and 2 blocks in 42 minutes.
Randolph finished with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2blocks in 30 minutes.
Early in the fourth, the Warriors ran a play that put Curry at the high post and got him the ball. Jackson, who passed the ball to Curry, cut off Curry’s hip and went to the post. Maggette, who was in the left corner, followed by cutting off Curry’s hip. It set up Jackson in the low post and Curry at the high post.
Casspi fronted Jackson on the left side of the basket. Curry, at the left elbow, slipped a pass through the key, past the defenders. The angle he used pulled Jackson directly under the basket, setting him up for an easy lay-up on he right side of the basket.
It was a simple, understated pass. But that was more because Curry made it look that way and not because it was simple. It was a great example of how he sees the floor, the kind of touch he has when passing and his understanding of the game.
JACKSON: “That was a dime. That was a good pass. He’s got those. He can pass.”