Warriors forward Lou Amundson was relieved after the game. Finally.
After missing all of training camp with a back injury, and missing the first 20 games of the season with a broken right index finger, he finally returned to action.
His conditioning isn’t up to par. He played 17 minutes. He had four points and two rebounds. He had two blocks, though, and they were based mostly off his timing and vision, which is a good sign.
AMUNDSON: “It’s just good to get that first one out of the way.”
I’ll be interested in seeing what he brings offensively. If Amundson, who signed a two-year contract worth $4.6 million this past offseason, runs the floor and finishes that would be big. He checked in for center Andris Biedrins, which suggests Smart will use him at both the four and the five spots. Warriors are banking on Amundson becoming a fixture in the rotation.
Amundson said his hand survived a major test. Thirty seconds into the fourth, Amundson got free for a break-away dunk. With J.J. Barea running underneath him, Amundson had to hang on the rim to prevent being undercut.
AMUNDSON: “I’m just happy my finger held up.”
Vladimir Radmanovic talked about his post-practice, F-bomb filled words of encouragement after practice. It offered some good insight into his thought process. If his motives are pure, you’ve got to at least respect his position, right?
I put it in Q&A form, to make it easier (for me).
What was your message to the team after (Monday’s) practice?
“I just wanted to tell everybody that, you know, we’re struggling right now, we’re all trying to figure out ways to get back to a winning streak. I think after being in the league for 10 years on now, on different teams – teams that were winning and teams that were losing – I experienced what it takes to win and it’s practice. Bottom line. You have to come to practice and work on aspects of your game that are not clicking. I think that’s something that we have to pay attention to because the success we had at the beginning of the season, it was a result of what we did in training camp. And we kind of took it for granted it, that it was going to be like that for the rest of the year. But obviously if you don’t progress forward in your game, it doesn’t happen like that. I hope we all learn from each other and take practice as a place where things are happening for a reason. Nobody likes practice. We all wish we could just go to the game and play a game because that’s where the fun is. But no practice, no game. It’s pretty much that way. That was the little message I tried to send the guys yesterday after practice.”
Were you asked to say something or was that something just on your heart to say?
“I just wanted to say I understand there are a few guys here that are playing a lot of minutes and its hard for them to come to practice and get motivated. But at the same time, these are the guys that are basically carrying this team and we all depend on their success in order to win games. Sometimes, we go hard at them and they take it personally. It’s nothing personal. It’s pretty much a healthy, competitive spirit we’re trying to have on the team because without it I don’t think we’re going to have success. I just wanted to tell them that, not to take it personally but just as a team it’s something we’re all going to profit from.”
Do you think your message was received or will you find out tonight?
“I don’t know. Maybe not tonight. Maybe never. But I sent the message, though. That’s the most important thing.”
Have seen a decline in practice?
“A little bit, to be honest with you. Just not being motivated in practice. Just walking through the motions and thinking, ‘OK, I don’t need to practice because, you know, I’m going to play a lot of minutes.’ We all understand who are our best guys and what they’re capable of doing on the court. At the same time, if we don’t push them and make them work for it, obviously the other team is not going to take it easy on them. So, whatever we do in practice is going to seem hard for them and harsh. But they’ve got to get used to it and the game’s going to be easier for them.”
Is there something you see in this team that makes you believe there is another level to reach if you practice right?
“I think we all have the capability. As I said, if you play a lot of minutes in the games, it’s hard to come to practice and, you know, run around and feel like, ‘OK, this is great.’ I’m one of the guys right now that’s not getting a lot of minutes and, for me, practice is pretty much the only place I can get some playing time. So I’m trying to take advantage of it. Obviously, there are a lot of other guys feeling the same way. We want to compete, we want to play and it helps, as I said, it helps our first unit in the long run.”
How have you dealt with wavering minutes?
“It’s not easy, I’ll be honest with you. It’s probably the hardest thing in basketball when you don’t have consistency. You don’t know when you’re going to play and how long you’re going to play. But at the same time, coach is learning. It’s his first year and he’s trying to figure out things. He’s been a head coach, I guess, in different places but not in the NBA. Now he’s trying to get his rotation, who’s going to play and how long he’s going to play, and all we have to do is be patient and see what’s going to happen.”
Is it easier for you to handle being a vet than it is for the younger players?
“It’s not easy for anybody, like I said. But when you’ve been in the league for 10 years, obviously, you’re not as stressed as much as somebody who just got in and wants it, ‘I want it right away’ because he doesn’t know what’s waiting for him. I’ve been up and down in my career. I’m not proud of it. It’s unfortunate. But, at the same time, it’s a great experience, something that makes you stronger and makes you appreciate things a little bit better. Whenever I’m being called to get in the game, I’m ready. That’s the bottom line but that’s all I can do right now.”
What makes you speak out instead of joining the crowd and coasting through practice?
“To be honest with you, the longer I’m in this league, the more I appreciate this league. When I first came in, we all think, ‘OK, we’re the big shot. This is what it’s supposed to be like and, you know, it’s going to be like that forever.’ But the longer you’re in and the more things you see, then you start to appreciate the little things you never thought about. And practice is definitely one of them. I’m not a guy that’s crazy about going to practice. But at the same time, when I come here, I might just as well do my best. Because it’s a waste of time if you get up in the morning, show up and don’t do anything. It’s better to stay home and not do anything at all. So, when I’m in practice, I’m just trying to get it all — especially, as I said, when you’re not playing. You’re not worried about your legs tomorrow, how you’re going to be fresh for the game, are you going to be able to play 45 minutes or whatever. You just, hey, go out and have fun like you’re somewhere with your friends and you’re just hooping, having fun.”
“It’s a little sacrifice everybody has to make. I know there are a lot of young guys on this team that are trying to prove themselves at the same time and win games. And sometimes we get off the track of what we’re supposed to do. But I think there’s a lot of talent and definitely a lot of room for us to be better and get better. Like I said, it’s going to take some time, with a new coach and the new guys we have on the team. We have three or four guys from last year. I’m one of them. Our whole roster has changed, so it’s not easy just to put guys together, ‘OK, go play,’ and everybody is going to figure it out. We just have to be consistent with the things that we’re doing. I think that’s the only way to make progress. If we’re always mixing up things and trying to figure out maybe this, and five games later maybe this, guys get confused. That’s something I’ve learned these years in the league. So we have to have some consistency with what you’re doing, have a reason for it. Coach Phil Jackson is one of the best, if not the best, I’ve seen doing it. He does things his own way and he doesn’t really explain too much to the player why something’s that way. Then after some time, things just become clear. ‘This is why he’s doing this.’ He’s not telling you, ‘OK, I’m doing this because of this.’ No. Just do it. Then you don’t do it, you get on the bench.”
Dorell Wright notched his third consecutive double-double on Tuesday, finishing with 17 points and a season-high tying 11 rebounds (he also had four assists, three steals and a block). Before this season, he hadn’t had a double-double in consecutive games ever in his career.
Wright is shooting just 34.8 percent over the last three games, and he’s down to 39.8 percent from the field for the season (though he’s 40.7 percent from 3-point range). But he is rebounding, which is a big plus from the small forward spot.
He’s at 5.8 for the season, which is on pace for a career-high. (Though his best rebounding year was 07-08, when he averaged 5.0 rebounds in 25 minutes. Now he’s averaging 39.4 minutes). He’s averaging 6.3 rebounds his last 10 games.
The SF rebounding is big for the Warriors because it helps their transition game. Especially now that Smart wants the guards getting back and not crashing the boards, the fastest option for getting the rebound and getting it up court is likely the small forward because he, theoretically, can push it faster than the PF or C. However, Wright might be best on the finishing end of the break than on the pushing end.
It also helps take some pressure off the big men. Especially with David Lee still hurting, all the rebounds Wright can get is a bonus.