When the Warriors hung close against Cleveland and Boston, and even for a while against San Antonio, it was just shy of admirable. Even though they eventually lost those games, by double-digit deficits at Boston and San Antonio, it certainly brought some positive vibes to the locker room.
But does coming close and losing in the end to Chicago, to Detroit, come with the same we’re-almost-there sentiments? Are they motivational near-misses? Or are they demoralizing?
I’m leaning heavily towards the latter.
Losing at Chicago and Detroit, in games they could’ve won, isn’t quite the moral victory they once enjoyed. Chicago and Detroit are both bad teams with injury problems, too. Neither Chicago nor Detroit won because they switched gears and pulled away from the Warriors, a la Boston or Cleveland, instead took advantage of the Warriors lack of clutchness.
CURRY: “To be in the game and play well enough to win is encouraging, but, at some point, we have to figure out how to make those plays that put you over the top. We haven’t figured that out.”
MAGGETTE: “It’s frustrating because we’re starting to play better, but lapses cost us. It’s hard to swallow, because we’re working as hard as we can to get a win. We’re doing a lot of good things, but we’re getting hurt in the end.”
Offensively, the Warriors have faltered lately as they struggle to find consistent help for Monta Ellis. The Dubs have failed to a reach a hundred three times on this road trip and are averaging just 94.8 points their last four games.
They are shooting 44.3 percent during this road trip, dropping their seaosn percentage to 47.1 Also, they’ve averaged 18 assists in the same span, which is below the 20-assist goal they set for every game and dropped their season average to 21.3. The assists are low because they haven’t made shots and they have gone stretches without ball movement.
Mind you, these stats include their win over the lowly Nets, in which they shot 49.4 percent and dished 23 assists.
SMART: “We’ve been good offensively over the past years because we’ve had a team with a bunch of players that could make plays at that time. We are a banged up team right now and just don’t have enough guys and we are dealing with a young roster right now. We had guys that were specialists that made plays, could handle the ball in many positions, were good size, and that just isn’t our team right now. There is occasions that when our team is together and intact that we are going to have good offensive outputs, but right now we are dealing with a smaller roster, guys are playing a lot of minutes, and we just don’t have that team that we need to have to be such an offensive team.”
Morrow said he was fine after Saturday’s game. But he’s been way out of it lately.
The same guy who made 98 of 112 3-pointers in practice is now 6 of his last 25, including 5 of 16 from 3-point range, his last three games.
MORROW (after Chicago game): “It was just an off night. Those are shots that I’ll usually make. I’m not affected by it. My confidence is not lost.”
His playing time was lost, however, last night in Detroit. He played the first eight minutes, missed the two shots he took, and Smart sat him down for a long stretch. He wound up playing just 18 minutes Saturday, going 0-for-3. It was the fewest he played all season, the previous low being 21 minutes at Milwaukee on Nov. 14, which was Jackson’s last game.
Smart went with C.J. Watson and Curry in the backcourt, moving Ellis to small forward, instead of playing Morrow. Certainly, Morrow can bust out at any time. But until he does, he’s little use. He’s not even rebounding as well as he has, which is the one other thing he does well at this point. He has 10 the last three games.
Morrow said he expects his shot to return. He’s not even worried about it. In the meantime, he’s focused on improving defensively. He had no chance against Luol Deng on Friday, and he had a tough time against Jonas Jerebko from Detroit, a bigger, wiry, energy type.
SMART: “We all know he’s a great shooter. He doesn’t have shooting nights like this or (Wednesday) night. Plus teams know he’s a hot guy, so they’re going to get to him pretty quick.”
Monta Ellis had 1 turnover in 48 minutes, the first time he’s done that all season. He had 1 turnover in 47 minutes vs. Memphis on Nov. 4.
Ellis, who is leading the league with 4.5 turnovers per game, had been averaging 5.8 turnovers per in the previous nine games he played 45 minutes or more.
But the last two games, Ellis has spent more time off the ball. The Warriors have set it up so he’s attacking from the wings on the weak side instead of facing down the entire set defense from the top of the key.
The put Ellis on one side and start the play on the other, hoping to reverse the ball with a couple of passes and get Ellis vs. a shifting defense.
SMART: “As opposed to being the point of attack for the defense, now he’s getting it when the defense has to move and rotate. … Anytime the ball moves three times in the NBA, the percentage goes up. So I think that’s what he’s good at.”