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Game #39 (12-27): Warriors 114, Bulls 97

How about this for a change of pace: the Warriors didn’t fall apart in the third quarter and pulled away in the fourth.

Warriors won the third quarter and outscored Chicago 60-44 in the second half, a detour from the trend of hot starts and third quarter meltdowns. And they did it all with virtually six players: Ellis, Maggette, Curry, Biedrins and D-Leaguers Cartier Martin and Anthony Tollilver (Devean George started and played 5:39, and Chris Hunter played 8:51 off the bench). Ellis/Maggette/Curry combined for 94 points on 34-for-71 shooting.

NELLIE: “So here we are, limited. Just about 7 and a half players, but we found a way. That’s good. As you guys know, we’ve actually been playing decently. Usually have had pretty good first halves and then the third quarter has been a problem for us. But tonight we won the third quarter and we had a big fourth quarter. So a very good game for us.”

Center Andris Biedrins had a breakout game, on the heels of his first double-double of the season. Goose dominated Joakim Noah to the tune of 9 points, 19 rebounds and 8 blocks (Noah had 4/12/0). He played a season-high 39 minutes. He was active and had a bounce in his step unlike anyother point this season. He said he’s not 100 percent yet, but about 90. Still, his presence was welcomed.

CURRY: “It’s huge. He’s getting blocks, rebounds for us, those extra possessions that we need to make runs. He’s allowing us to do that. Just having his presence on ball-screens, pretty much anywhere on defense, really. He’s always there to back us up and get those rebounds and we can push. That’s what we’re best at.”

Still, the talk of the night after the game was his free throw shooting. He set a new season-high for free throws made in a game: 1.

It became a unique situation late in the third quarter. Biedrins came into the game 0-for-7 from the line. He missed three more in the first half. Then he stepped to the line with 2:22 left on the clock in the third quarter. The first one made a b-line to the front rim, banging off the bottom of it and dropping straight down.

Boos began to simmer through Oracle Arena. But then the Warriors faithful began to drown those boos out with cheers. The home crowd is usually silent when one of their players take a free throw. But this time, Biedrins took his second free throw in the middle of an ovation. And he made it. The crowd erupted.

So when Biedrins went back to the line at the 28.2 mark of the third quarter, he took his free throws with a chorus of cheers in the background. He missed both, each a line drive colliding violently against the rim. He said the noise during his free throws doesn’t bother him.

BIEDRINS: “Naw, not really. That’s how our home crowd is always. Great feeling when they cheer you on. “

After the game, Nelson disclosed that pretty much Biedrins’ free throw situation is helpless. Nelson said Biedrins spurned the suggestion to shoot underhand free throws, or even one-handed free throws.

Nelson said when he first got here, he brought Rick Barry in to teach Biedrins how to shoot free throws underhanded. After about an hour with Barry, Nellie said Biedrins decided he didn’t want to shoot that way. Nellie says he jokes with Biedrins now saying he’s going to bring Barry back, which Nellie said usually gets Biedrins to get up some extra free throws.

NELLIE: “I mean, that free throw doesn’t have much chance. I know it, you know it and he probably knows it. … I thought (underhanded) was his one chance. Because anything over his head, he’s just so fundamentally unsound. We’ve worked with him and tried to show him. But he basically can’t change that. It’s his wrist, it’s his motion, it’s arc. And he chooses not to change his free throw. I even talked to him about the one-hand free throw, which I shot, which I think helps some players overcome that problem. But right before he shoots, he tips his hand this way, a little bit like Shaq, so he can’t hold it in one hand. He tries to flip it. That isn’t going to work. But I thought the underhand free throw had a chance.”

Biedrins hardly sounded like someone unwiling to change. He sounded like someone willing to try anything. He was clearly frustrated, and embarrassed, and irritated, about his free throw shooting after the game.

BIEDRINS: “I mean, it’s hard. It’s really hard. It’s really frustrating. … I’ll do anything to get it back to at least how I shot it last year, close to 60%. At least I’ll be confident in myself if I go to the foul line.”

The last three seasons, he’d shot 55.1, 62.0 and 52.1 percent from the free throw line. But he said he tweaked his shot this summer. He said he went back to the national team and changed a couple things. He said he regrets making those changes and plans to go back to how he was shooting it before. His stance and rhythm was different, and he had at least a smidge more arc.

Biedrins is 1-for-14 from the line this season, which is 7.1 percent.

In the fourth quarter, at about the 5:16 mark, Luol Deng fouled Biedrins intentionally at the opposite free throw line. Nelllie panicked. He thought they were resorting to the Hack-a-Goose strategy. Nellie immediately subbed in Chris Hunter.

Seconds later, Biedrins was headed back to the scorer’s table. Nellie realized it wasn’t time for Hack-a-Goose. It was only Chicago’s second team foul.

NELLIE: “I told him, ‘As soon as they’re in the bonus I’ll take you out to make sure they don’t embarrass you.’”

**********************************

Corey Maggette was 19th in the league in Player Efficiency Rating, and that was before he had 32 points on 11-for-14 shooting with 6 rebounds and five assists in 35 minutes. 

That’s 30 in three of his last four games. What’s craziest is his efficiency. He’s up to 20 points per game for the season. He’s shooting 54.3 percent from the field. Of the players who average at least 20 points per game (through Monday), only Amare Stoudemire (56.1) and Tim Duncan (55.2) have higher field goal percentages.

Though Maggette has probably spent most of his time at PF, he’s really a small forward. Among all qualified small forwards, shooting guards and point guards, no one has a higher field goal percentage than Maggette.

Simply put, Maggette is a beast now.

****************************************

Stephen Curry outplayed Derrick Rose, which came as a shock to yours truly. (I’m a big Rose fan) Rose has been down this year, but he had been playing well of late. With Rose’s strength and athleticism, I thought it would be curtains for Curry. It wasn’t.

NELLIE: “Oh, he’s been terrific defensively for the last month. He’s turned into quite a defender, actually. Not very good when he first arrived, but man, he’s worked hard at it. He follows our gameplan. Pretty darn good defensive point guard right now.”

Their lines:

Curry 43:28 min., 26 points, 9-for-18 FGs, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 5 TOs

Rose   34:49 min., 19 points, 7-for-19 FGs,  2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 4 TOs

Curry had three fouls in the first quarter, and never really changed his defense on Rose. Late in the game, during the Warriors run to pull away, Curry blocked a fade-away by Rose, a fitting cap to a night in which Curry seemed to bother Rose consistently. Plus Curry made several big shots and, along with Ellis, consistently broke down the Bulls defense off the dribble.

One thing that has stood out about Curry, in addition to his turnovers and propensity to pick up fouls, is his competitiveness and toughness. Dude does not back down (which is partly why he’s foul and turnover prone) and it is paying off. Of course, though, Nellie had to take it to another level.

NELLIE: “I don’t know if you’d call (Tyreke) Evans a point guard or not. Other than that, I don’t know any rookie points guards better than him, that I’ve seen. I know (Brandon) Jennings is really good. They’re both really good. But true point guard, understanding the defensive concepts… total package. He’s quite a point guard.”

Is Curry the best rookie point guard? I find it hard to make that claim for a guy whose team is 15 games under .500. But no doubt, Curry is looking really good these days.

*********************************

Had a discussion with a colleague I respect who said Monta won’t make the All-Star Game. He’s right. 

Here are the West Starters:

G Kobe, G Nash*, F Carmelo, F Nowitzki, C Stoudemire (*assuming Phoenix fans stuffed ballots the last five days)

That leaves two  guards, two forwards and two centers to be selected by coaches as reserves:

G, Paul, G Roy, F Tim Duncan, F Kevin Durant, C Chris Kaman

Finally, the two wild card spots. I’m of the mind that one guard at the most will be used for this spot. But I wouldn’t be surprised if neither is a guard. Here are the options:

Guards – Ellis, Deron Williams, Chauncy Billups, Tony Parker

Forwards – Zach Randolph, Carlos Boozer, Pau Gasol, David West, Rudy Gay

Centers – Andrew Bynum, Al Jefferson

I think the coaches will give the two wild card spots two Deron Williams (yet to be named an All-Star) and Zach Randolph. And I can’t say I would disagree with that. Deron Williams has good numbers on a better team. Zach Randolph is one of the best stories of the year. He’s resurrected his reputation and the Grizzlies, even have them competing for a playoff spot.

Marcus Thompson

  • AP

    curry and evens are making the same percentage, curry way better at the three tho. evens takes like 6 more shots then curry and youd have to think if he got the freedom to do what tyreke is doing or jennings hed be at a higher scoring average, higher assist, same rebound maybe higher, then those other two.

  • Eeqmcsq

    Biedrins was 2 blocks and 1 point away from a triple-double, which I think would have been his first. But I don’t recall him ever swatting those balls with such force before. I think he got mad from missing those FTs badly.

  • ron redwoods

    When the Warriors win the rebound battle, they win about 80% of the time. Good to have Beans full strength…but Tolliver + Martin added rebounding too.

    ….and folks…..remember this game next time anyone thinks we should trade for Tyrus Thomas. Lot of talent but too clueless to use it. Fresh off the bus from oblivion,Tolliver played at least as well…and he obviously had yet to unpack his J.

  • earl monroe

    Curry has an old school feel to his game, the 10 rebounds last night where impressive. And now that the shot is coming around……….
    (I guess the weightlifting didn’t help the jump shot), and look there was still enough shots to go around for Monta (39 shots) and Magette.

  • J

    Curry is looking really really good!
    I knew he was gonna be a good NBA player but I didn’t know he was gonna be this good this fast! What a blessing he is. His fouls are a problem but I would agree with your statement that its in part due to his willingness to not back down from anyone. I think he’s gonna be great and should be in the discussion for rookie of the year. At this point he isn’t cause of the W’s record but atleast in the talk. He started off slow with his shot but I think that was due to all of the weight lifting he did in the summer and it really affected his shot. This kid is the real deal. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone else in the draft.
    Ellis on the other hand chucking up 39 shots is ridiculous. He seems to have a problem with Curry. Idk why but there’s a clear tension there. He draws so much attention when he drives that he can find Curry so much more like he was doing against the Bulls. This team has so much POTENTIAL……

  • tom

    As much as I think Monta deserves all-star recognition, I would rather that he stay home over the break and get some rest. I don’t see how anyone can go an entire season playing 48 minutes per game without breaking down.

  • http://feltbot.com/ feltbot

    You are placing a lot of faith in human nature if you think the coaches will put aside the past and reward Zach Randolph. I’m not saying it shouldn’t happen…

    As for the Deron Williams/Monta Ellis debate, not sure I understand why DW is the one who should get the nod for the reason of never having made it before.

    From a strictly NBA marketing perspective, Monta should make it hands down. Does that ever figure in to the coaches thinking?

  • deano

    Could it possibly be that adding a healthy Biedrins to the productive trio of Ellis, Curry and Maggette will result in wins, rather than the recent close losses? I cannot wait to find out. GSW’s games are now, suddenly, more meaningful. And what would Randolph have added, if he had not been injured? I do not believe that the Warriors should be thinking of dumping anyone’s salary right now. No trade should be made without bringing us a high quality player.

  • deano

    As to the All-Star balloting,I agree with Tom that Monta needs a rest; but he would get that even if the coaches do select him. How much would he play in the All-Star game? I’d guess 20 minutes, max, with no effort needed on defense. That’s a rest, after 48 minutes per game.

    I would love to see Monta selected. Remember how he was the last guy off the bench for the Rookie-Sophomore game in his second season, and then stole the show with an entended streak of flying dunks off passes from Chris Paul? The man would shine in the All-Star game, and his selection would be a big morale boost for the whole GSW franhise.

  • johnfree

    so much more fun to write about a gutty victory, yes??

    thanks for reprising Nellie’s rant about Biedrens’ free trhows. I watched his presser on tv and it cracked me up first time around.

    It really puzzles me that a gifted athlete like Andris cannot master a simple, learned wrist motion. Obviously he hates embarrassing himself up there. I have it with my good hand (left), but don’t with my right, but I’ll bet I could learn it in a few days. Why can’t he??

    I vote for the underhand flip. Maybe if he could learn it w/o spending time with Rick Barry that would help??

    :)

  • RCG

    Andris needs to have a portable plexiglass backboard placed half way between the foul line and the hoop during FT practice. Then just force him to roll the ball backwards off his shooting hand and over the plexiglass to create an arc. It can’t be that difficult. Some day AB is going to be sufficiently embarrassed that he will believe that an arc is required. Until then, at home games the fans should chant ARC! ARC! every time he goes to the line. Maybe bring some signs to the end line–A–R–C–and wave them. And fans sitting behind the home bench…scream ARC all the time he is sitting. I’m not kidding about this!

  • A’s in 2010

    I took this from Kawakami’s blog.

    [-Q: How much better are you when Biedrins is that active?

    -NELSON: We’re better when we have other guys who pursue the ball as well, so he doesn’t get 19 rebounds every game. He did tonight.

    But I think the other guys ganged in there and actually, look, the D-Leaguers got 17 rebounds between them. The two new guys got 17 rebounds, so they really helped in that area so they could lay a second body on him.

    A lot of teams are taking a player and just running him into Goose so he doesn’t go to the offensive glass and they don’t even bother with our other guys because we’re not great rebounders. But rebounding is an important part of the game.]

    Nellie might be on to something. Playing along side Tolliver, who’s willing to throw his body around helps Andris. Maybe Biedrins will have better games when he’s not the only bigman on the court? HELLO! Duh.

  • A’s in 2010

    Our bigs are taught to not box out and just go get the ball. Anthony Tolliver has played for San Antonio and Portland, he hasn’t gotten the memo yet. Thank goodness.

  • Paul

    For what it’s not worth, GM Larry Riley was at the Georgia Tech/Clemson game Tuesday night, presumably to scout expected one-and-done 6-10 F Derrick Favors. Favors ain’t what we’re looking for, that’s for sure. All athlete, no skills right now.

  • Wilson

    It would be interesting to see Monta in an all-star game. With the lackadaisical defense, he could get to the basket at will.