Revisiting Game 6: Warriors Shoot Themselves to a 101-77 Loss at Lakers

The Warriors allegedly high-powered offense was reduced to a jump-shooting mess in Friday’s 101-77 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. At the end, when Golden State had made just 33.7 percent of their attempts, shot selection was an obvious concern.

The main culprits were the sharp-shooting Warriors guards: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. They each ere 6 of 16 from the field. Thompson was 3 of 8 from 3-point range, Curry 2 of 6.

MARK JACKSON: “I told the guys at the end of the day, these are shooters, getting good looks. They’re smart enough to turn it down and make plays but I want these guys to continue to be aggressive on the offensive end and don’t turn shots down. If you’re going to clap when they make open shots, you can’t be frustrated yelling at them when they miss the same ones. They’re knock down shooters who had a tough night.”

Jacksonsaid he doesn’t think the shot selection was bad. He said they just missed open shots. But that’s just a coach protecting his players. In the locker room at halftime,Jacksontalked to them about their shots.

Point guard Stephen Curry, who has made a concerted effort to get into the lane more, even acknowledged the Warriors needed to take better shots.

“We shot a lot of early threes in the beginning of possessions. But they were uncontested, a lot of us walking into it. You’ve got to find the balance between zero- and one-pass possessions versus getting to the basket and trying to get the ball moving a little bit and those same shots coming back around. Sometimes it is hard to turn down wide-open threes even if it’s early in the possession and you’ve missed a couple. But we’ve got to find that balance.”

The Warriors lost the game in the second and third quarters. They were downright atrocious. During those two periods, they shot 11 of 44 from the field (25 percent) with eight turnovers. It’s no coincidence that they took 16 of their 25 3-pointers during those two quarters. They were 1 of 10 from 3-point range in the second quarter, and 2 of 6 in the third quarter — meaning over those two quarters they missed more 3-pointers (13) than they took free throws (12).

DAVID LEE: “We got open shots tonight, especially from the three-point line. We just couldn’t buy a bucket. … We didn’t shoot the ball well enough. There’s always going to be days like this on the road and we need to do a better job on the boards to counter that.”This brings me to a new feature:  Writer’s Rant.

WRITER’S RANT: This was a problem under Don Nelson and Keith Smart. And it’s turning out to be a problem under Mark Jackson — the understanding of the difference between a good shot and a bad shot.

It is a disservice to players, especially young ones, to say a bad shot is actually a good shot. It’s one thing to say we’ll excuse some bad shots here and there. It’s another to blur the lines between a good shot and a bad shot. And since I know Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, and every member in the Warriors organization, reads my blog, let’s define it now.

A good shot is a high percentage shot. A bad shot is a low percentage shot.

A good shot is NOT a shot that you can and have made before. The fact that you can make it does not make it a good shot. What makes the shot good or bad is the percentage of it going in.

This is especially important to understand at critical junctures of the game. So when you really need a bucket, you understand percentages and can actually work towards a good shot. A real one.

Stephen Curry is a great shooter. But even he shoots 40 percent from 3-point range. So, in general, when he takes a 3-pointer, you’re working from a premise there is a 40 percent chance of him making it. Now, the percentages change based on the shot. If it’s a pull-up in transition, it goes down. If it’s contested, it goes down. If his feet are set, it goes up. If it was generated by a pass, meaning not off the dribble, it goes up. If he’s made the last few, it goes up because he’s in rhythm. If he’s missed the last few, it goes down because he’s cold or thinking.

So, if he has missed his last couple of shots, the Lakers are making a run and the crowd is into it, the play is kind of helter-skelter and suddenly sees he’s open for a 3-pointer in transition, there is probably like a 25% chance he’ll make it.

That’s not a good shot. And we’re talking about the best shooter on the team who is actually open. Imagine the percentages on some of those shots by the rest of the Warriors.

So when you take Klay Thompson, who took 16 shots and half of them were threes, can you really say they were good shots? Of course not.

When Kobe senses he needs a good shot, he goes to a shot that has a high percentage, something he’s worked on over and over and over. He’s got a few: turnaround jumper, dribble left and pull-up, etc. Paul Pierce is the same way, straight to the elbow for a pull-up jumper. He’s increased his percentage of that shot because he has developed himself a “good shot” to go to when they need it.

Carl Landry typically takes good shots. At the end of the Sacramento game, Jackson called a good play that led to a good shot for Curry. Usually, though, when the Warriors need a good shot, they don’t really know where to go. They might run a play and see what comes out of it. Iso’ing Klay against a stellar defender like Tony Allen is not a good shot. Posting up David Lee, especially against shot-blockers, is not a good shot.

But they need to develop good shots, especially Curry and Klay. So when their shot isn’t falling, they have a place to go for a high-percentage shot.

OK, I’m done ranting.

More on Friday’s loss …

MVP: Andris Biedrins. He played 9 minutes, 21 seconds. He didn’t make a shot and turned the ball over three times. Show is he MVP. Because during his stint on the floor, you knew he was on the floor, and he did some good things.

Biedrins had four rebounds, that’s more than Festus Ezeli got in 20-plus minutes, twice what Draymond Green got in 13 minutes, more than Harrison Barnes got in 29 minutes. Biedrins also played good defense on Dwight Howard and made a couple of hustle plays, including a cagey steal on an entry pass.

With center Andrew Bogut out, the Warriors could use an active big man off the bench.

MDP: David Lee

He never plays well against the Lakers. Their size simply bothers him. Friday was no different. He missed 7 of 10. He forced shots and turned it over four times. He led the Warriors with 12 rebounds, but several key offensive rebounds were a product of his not blocking out.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Lee can’t be solid. He needs to be really, really good. The two things he brings primarily — scoring and rebounding — he needs to bring them. It’s not enough for him to do one or the other.

KEY MOMENT I: The Warriors came out of halftime with a renewed focus: attacking Dwight Howard. Previously shying away from the shot-blocking extraordinaire, the Warriors started the third quarter by going right at him.

On a fastbreak, rookie Harrison Barnes, went right at Dwight Howard. He got his shot blocked (you could argue he was fouled), but he went into Dwight’s chest instead of fading away.

Moments later, Curry then did the same thing, weaved his way into the lane and, instead of pulling up or fading a way, went into Howard and converted the reverse layup. The next time down, on a fastbreak, Thompson went all the way to a rim for a finger roll.

A Curry 3-pointer capped a 7-0 run to start the third quarter, cutting the Lakers’ lead to 47-45. The Warriors were finally executing their game plan of pushing the tempo and attacking.

YEAH, WHAT HE SAID: “I think just by the look of it, the one difference you saw is they definitely were playing more simple basketball. I think they were running a lot of pick-and-roll, getting Kobe in the post a lot. Gasol didn’t shoot a great percentage but he got up 18 shots tonight. So they did some different things. But overall, I felt they were a pretty good team to begin with, they just had a tough stretch to start the season.” — David Lee said of Lakers’ offense after firing Mike Brown.

COACH’S CORNER: Mark Jackson leaned heavily on the David Lee-Carl Landry tandem. Instead of using his true centers, Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedirns, who he raves about for their defense,Jackson chose the offensive prowess of Lee and Landry. Of course, this runs counter to his vocal emphasis on defense.

Small ball was exposed in a big way Friday.

The Lakers won the battle of the boards (58-47) and outscored the Warriors in the paint (38-30). It was inside this game went from closely contested to another laugher.

What made it so one-sided was that the offense of Lee and Landry never showed up. They combined to score 16 points on 6 of 22 shooting with 5 turnovers. So not only did they not provide the offensive punch, they hurt the Warriors on the defensive boards and in protecting the basket at key moments. Landry did have 11 rebounds, but 6 were offensive. The Warriors got hurt on the other end as the Lakers racked up 23 second-chance points.

Get this: the worst plus/minus of the night were by Landry and Lee, each -20. And guess who had the best? Andris Biedrins (even) and Festus Ezeli (-6) — that doesn’t count not the players who came in when the game was already decided.

Jackson sacrificed the team’s principles to be better on offense and it backfired.

CURRY: “I think defensively we did a pretty good job. We were just undersized down there trying to battle on the boards and in the paint.”

Another mistake Jackson made came during the decisive run.

The Warriors had cut the Lakers’ once 9-point lead down to 54-50 after Ezeli dunked back Barnes’ missed 3-pointer with 5:58 left.

Bryant then took over. He converted a finger roll. Then after a pull-up by Steve Blake, Bryant dropped in a fade-away, putting the Lakers up 60-50. Some 20 seconds later,  Bryant hit Gasol for an easy bank shot inside. The Warriors trailed by 12 with 4:32 left in the third quarter.

You know what’s missing in that stretch? A Golden State timeout.

Despite the sudden way with which the Lakers recaptured momentum, despite the obviousness that the game was getting away from the Warriors, Jackson let his young team, which had two rookies on the court, play on.

The Lakers eventually pushed the lead to 14 before an automatic timeout stopped play with 2:28 left. By the end of the third quarter, the Warriors trailed 72-55 and the game was over.

KEY MOMENT II: With 8:29 left,Kobe, after operating as a distributor all game, had Thompson on his back in the post. Immediately, he turned and drilled a fade-away jumper. And the foul.

The next time down, Bryant attacked the rim, leading to a couple of free throws. It was clear, the Black Mamba had come out. He went on to score 9 of the Lakers’ next 11 points, and there was little the Warriors could do about it.

Kobe was aggressive with the ball in his hands and on pick-and-roll. He requires a lot of attention, obviously, but on the backside it is tough to match-up with those guys who roll into the paint. And they always have a shooter (on the court).

BEFORE YOU GO: Rookie forward Harrison Barnes logged 30 minutes Monday. He took eight shots, making 3, and finished with six points. Two of his made baskets were dunks. But his most impressive stat: 4 assists.

Barnes is making progress, however gradual. But one thing he must do better is rebound. Two rebounds in 30 minutes is not the business.


Marcus Thompson

  • Wfan

    What demon is it that possesses Warrior coaches to obsess about using the small lineup? David Lee is a power forward, not a center, especially against a big team. Sigh.

  • stretch

    “Could” argue that Howard fouled Barnes????????

    Remember this is David Stearns NBA. Super Stars can foul with impunity!

    He absolutely hammered Barnes!!

    But the main point is this post is outstanding!!! They’ll read it you say, but how will they respond?

  • itsagreattimeout

    Andris played well. He remembered how to play D. I know I’m beating a dead horse, but he should shoot UNDERHANDED at the line!!!! If anything, just do it once to get people like me to shut up about it.

  • Twinkie defense

    “If he’s made the last few, it goes up because he’s in rhythm” – the “hot hand” theory has been statistically debunked. Whether you made or missed you last shot(s) doesn’t factor into the success of you next shot. They are independent events.

  • PJ

    I’ve been critical of your writing in the past.

    I wanted to take a second and say though, this piece was excellent.