What to Watch For – Game 30

The first thing to watch for is obvious:

How long before Andris Biedrins is pulled out the game?

Warriors coach Mark Jackson announced today that he would start Biedrins tonight against Phoenix. Ekpe Udoh, who started and was impressive in Monday’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers, will stay in his role as the back-up. That is disappointing news to many a Warriors fan, who were drooling at the sight of a productive center.

Jackson has his reasons for starting Biedrins – keep the second-unit strong, Biedrins is a better rebounder, Biedrins is mentally fragile and may go in the tank if he’s benched. But the fact that it was a debate means that he really believes Ekpe is the better player. Jackson has adamantly stuck by his starters all season, even when a couple were struggling mightily early. He wouldn’t even consider sitting a starter unless it was a no-brainer.

So, what time will Biedrins come out? It’s usually around the six-minute mark. It may be sooner tonight, especially if Gortat gets going early for Phoenix.

Grant Hill vs. Monta Ellis: Grant Hill really does a number on Monta, especially in Phoenix. In Ellis’ last four games at the Suns, he’s averaged 13.3 points on 33.9 percent shooting. The taller, longer, stronger Hill has just the right combination of size, athleticism and intelligence to make it rough for Monta.
In his last nine games against Phoenix, Monta has scored 20 or more four times, all at Oracle. This season, in two games against the Suns, Monta has totaled 36 points on 11-for-36 shooting.
Can the Warriors figure out how to get Monta going against Hill? The trick is to get in transition. A half-court setting plays to Ellis’ strengths. Another thing the Warriors should do more of, and not just against Phoenix, is create offense for Monta without the ball in his hands. And when he gets it, he shouldn’t hold it, but work off the ball to create the opening so when he gets it, he fires it.
Just my two cents.


Ekpe Udoh May Have Earned Starting Center Spot in Warriors’ Win over the Clippers

Game story for tomorrow

Warriors second-year big man Ekpe Udoh started at center against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday. And after the way he played, many Golden State fans will be hoping it’s permanent.

With the usual starter Andris Biedrins out with flu-like symptoms, Udoh registered a career-high 17 points in a career-high tying 39 minutes as the Warriors beat the Clippers 104-97. He made on 9 of 14 shots to go with eight rebounds (including a career-high six offensive boards) and two blocks as Golden State snapped a three-game losing streak.

“He was great. Absolutely great,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “He had an opportunity tonight and truly took advantage of it. … The way he‘s played the last month or so has been great and (Monday night) was the icing on the cake.”

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Another Close Game, Another Choke Job for the Warriors; Lose 104-103 at Memphis

Game story for tomorrow’s paper

MEMPHIS– It seems whenever the Warriors are in a nail biter, the question is not whether they’ll lose, but how. Saturday, a failed block out and an offensive foul secured a 104-103 loss at the Memphis Grizzlies.

Golden State(11-17) has lost three straight. The Warriors now have nine losses after being within a point in the final 90 seconds. If they’d won four of those, they’d be right there in the race for a playoff spot instead of flailing at the bottom of the Western Conference.

Warriors coach Mark Jackson has repeatedly said learning how to win is a process. But this process seems to be taking forever.

“We don’t have a timetable for it,” forward David Lee said, “but certainly that’s been the reason that our record isn’t as good as we want it to be. We’ve lost a lot of close ones. The positive is that we’re not far off. The negative is we’ve let a lot of them slip away and it’s put us in a tough spot.”

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Warriors Start Critical, Daunting Stretch by Getting Routed at Oklahoma City

Game story for tomorrow’s paper

OKLAHOMA CITY– Perhaps it was a good thing the Warriors started one of their roughest stretches of the season against arguably the best team in the league. Getting blown out by the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-87 on Friday may be the message the hot and cold Warriors’ needed.

“It’s a wake-up call for how we need to play in games,” point guard Stephen Curry said. “We understand the situation. It’s not like we’re going through the motions, not knowing how important each night is. We’re creeping backwards now from the playoff chase.”

If that message doesn’t sink in, the thumping at the hands of the Thunder may turn out to be the first in several road beat downs. Golden State (11-16) has lost two straight. Saturday’s game at Memphis is the second of three straight against teams currently in the top eight of the Western Conference.

Oklahoma City marked the first of a stretch in which the Warriors play eight of nine on the road. Six of those nine games are against winning teams. The last four of that stretch is played over six days.

If the Warriors are to turn around their season, it’s going to take better plan than they’ve displayed the last two games. Friday against Oklahoma City, Golden State lost control of the game by allowing 38 points in the second quarter. The Thunder, led by 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists from Kevin Durant, never looked back.

Thunder sixth man James Harden scored 15 of his 25 points in the second quarter. He scored eight during a 20-9 Oklahoma City run that turned the Warriors’ 30-24 lead into a 44-39 hole.

The Warriors gave up 37 second-quarter points in Wednesday’s improbable home loss to a short-handed and fatigued Portland squad.

“Second straight game the second quarter hurt us,”Jackson said.

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Stephen Curry Will Defend His Title in the Skills Challenge

The Warriors will be represented at All-Star Weekend. Stephen Curry will defend his title in the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday.

Golden State was close to being shut out. Guard Monta Ellis was not named a reserve. Neither of the Warriors top-notch shooters — Brandon Rush (who leads the NBA in 3-point percentage), Klay Thompson and Curry — were selected for the 3-point shootout. Warriors undrafted rookie Chris Wright, who has incredible hops, was not invited to participate in the dunk contest.

And both Thompson and Ekpe Udoh were left out of the Rookie-Sophomore game — even though the NBA reportedly added two players to the Rookie-Sophomore game on Thursday (New York’s Jeremy Lin and Miami’s Norris Cole).

Lin was selected to participate in the skills challenge. So if Curry loses to Lin in the challenge, will that start the Curry-for-Lin trade rumors?