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Revisiting Game 28: Warriors’ Miss a Chance to Make Big Statement in Crushing Home Loss to Lakers

The Warriors’ 118-115 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers was as frustrating as it was encouraging. The Lakers (13-14) at full strength  are expected to be a title contender. Yet, Saturday, Golden State, still not at full strength, looked like the better team most of the game.

The nail-biting loss no doubt stings, as evident in the locker room after the game. But the performance lends credence to the Warriors’ contention they are a legit playoff contender.

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In their mind, they didn’t get beat by the Lakers. They gave that game away.

JARRETT JACK: “We are definitely not a team into moral victories. We come out and feel like we can win every game when we step in between those lines. We just learned that if you mess around and allow a team like them, who has tremendous firepower … these are the type of results that can possibly happen.”

The Warriors’ next 12 games are against teams that are legitimate playoff caliber teams. Saturday’s loss not only verified the Warriors belong in that mix, it left them with a taste in their mouth that will almost assuredly keep them hungry.

No doubt, they will need that edge. They will need to maintain a certain focus and intensity against the better teams they’ll be facing. That lesson was driven home by the Lakers and it should harden Golden State’s resolve.

CURRY: “We’re ready. These kind of experiences are tough to deal with but they do make you better if you’re paying attention to what we wrong. I think we understand what went wrong in the fourth quarter. We could have games like these every single night, on the road or at home, and we’ll be able to battle.”

More on Saturday’s defeat …

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WRITER’S RANT: It’s to the point where it looks like players are expecting Jackson to call a timeout. They stand where they are and start leaning towards the bench. Then he calls a play.

Jackson can point to the Warriors’ 18-10 record to justify it (for now), but his refusal to call timeouts, allowing his team to play through opponents’ runs, is befuddling. And you can’t help but wonder if it will bite the Warriors when they start playing better teams.

I know he trusts them. I know he wants to continue to promote an uptempo pace. I know he was at home in front of the greatest fans in the history of earth. But reeling is reeling. And the only way the Warriors’ common answer to stop the reeling is to shoot jumper (which if they don’t go in continues the reeling!). I understand if Carl Landry is in the game and everyone knows it’s time to go down low and let him go to work. But that’s not even happening.

He’s got to use his timeouts. It’s a tool for coaches to use.

The lead is 14 with 10:35 left after a Landry dunk. Meeks gets a layup. Landry follows with an offensive foul, then Howard hits a hook. Lee then misses a 17-footer, which leads to a Jordan Hill jumper. A 6-0 run in 1 minute, 28 seconds. Golden State’s lead is down to single digits early in the fourth.

Jackson doesn’t take a timeout.

And what happens? Draymond Green commits a turnover the next time down.

I know an official timeout was coming. But sometimes, you’ve just gotta stop the snowball. Immediately.

After an official timeout, the Lakers get three more baskets — after the Warriors’ miss a 3-pointer and turn it over twice. The lead is down to two. Still no timeout.

Oddly, Jack stops the reeling with a 19-footer. After the Lakers squander two offensive rebounds, Barnes hits a 3-pointer to push the lead back to seven. Mike D’Antoni jumps off the bench in frustration and calls a timeout.

If a veteran, respected coach — who has been to the West Finals and is coaching five experienced, players who have been All-NBA caliber at some point in their careers — can use the advantage of the timeout, couldn’t the young coach with young players benefit?

The Warriors have the seventh-youngest roster in the league (average age of 25.3). They start two rookies, a second-year shooting guard and a point guard who is in his first year as the undisputed team leader. They get caught up in the moment. They need breathers, reminders, adjustments. Call a timeout and tell them to calm down, stop shooting jumpers and take care of the ball — if not run a special play or change a defensive adjustment.

During a 6 minute, 24-second stretch in the fourth quarter, the Warriors were 2 for 6 shooting with three turnovers. Five of those six shots were jumpers, including three 3-pointers. During that’s same span, the Lakers were 9 of 16 from the field. Ten of their attempts were inside.

In that 6:24, the Lakers outscored the Warriors by 14.

Then in overtime, Los Angeles starts with an alley-oop. Curry misses a 3-pointer and it leads to a turn-around jumper for Bryant. A team that was leading most of the game, had the Lakers surge to tie it, is now down two baskets with four minutes left. No timeout.

Lee misses a runner on the next possession. The Lakers missed a chance to go up six on a Gasol turnover. Down to about three minutes left. The Warriors really need a basket. A timeout would’ve been good to make sure execution was pinpoint (or maybe get Carl Landry in the game).

No timeout. The possession ends with a turnover by Ezeli.

Call me conservative, but I would’ve liked to see a 3-pointer with the Warriors up four with just over three minutes left. Bryant missed a 3-pointer and Ezeli secured the stop with a rebound. A timeout there gives Jackson the chance to choreograph a basket, which would really put the Lakers behind the eight ball.

Instead, the Warriors got a Stephen Jackson-esque dagger 3-point attempt from Jack (which you can’t really be mad at as hot as he was). He missed, and the Lakers responded by cutting it to two. But to me, that seemed like a good spot to focus on executing for a high-percentage shot.

I know, letting them play through it may work out in the end. Golden State may become a team that doesn’t get rattled, is tested by fire. Down the stretch, the Warriors may wind up such a machine that Jackson may not even need to stand up during the fourth quarter.

If that happens, I’ll eat my crow sandwich (like I did when I ranted about him playing Ezeli down the stretch). Until then, it just feels like the head coach is leaving assets on the table by not taking his timeouts. And with the schedule increasing in degree of difficulty, and no sign of an Andrew Bogut return, I’m not sure they can afford to hold back.

MVP: Jarrett Jack

His 29 points and 11 assists only begin to illustrate his impact. He carries the Warriors through the most critical stretches and made nearly every big shot they needed in regulation. He was, as he has been all year, a catalyst for Golden State’s grit and resilience.

JACKSON: “He’s been great all year long. He comes in and has a calming effect when he runs our offense. He’s a scoring threat and he makes plays. Been great all year long. Credit again to our ownership and front office by doing a great job of finding what we needed. He’s everything that we thought he would be when we traded for him.”

MDP: Stephen Curry

Festus Ezeli could be, and probably should be, the most disappointing player. But I hate to kick a man while he’s down — and he clearly was after the game. And though his  mistakes down the stretch were back-breaking, he is a rookie and some of that is part of his learning.

Curry, however, you expected to be a more of a factor in the fourth quarter in overtime. He certainly stuffed the stat sheet, as normal: 20 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, 4 turnovers in 45 minutes. But the standard is different for Curry. This is one of those games the Warriors needed him to be their MVP-candidate. But he simply wasn’t the take-over player he had been.

His shot wasn’t falling. He got burned a few times on defense. He set the tone for poor ball security with a couple questionable passes. He wasn’t in command, like he was at Dallas, at Brooklyn, at Atlanta. It’s clear the Warriors need him to produce.

KEY MOMENT I: On the Warriors first possession of the second quarter, Jack banked in a turn-around jumper from 13 feet. The next possession, he dribbled to one of his comfort spots and nailed a pull-up 18 footer.

At that point, he was 3 of 3 in the game. It was clear he had it going. With his confidence high, and the Lakers putting small point guards on him, Jack started looking for his shot. And it was the best offense all night for Golden State.

He went on to score 15 points in the quarter, on 10 shots, as the Warriors turned a five-point deficit into an 8-point halftime lead.

YEAH, WHAT HE SAID: “When a guy puts up 41 shots, he is going to make some of them. You can play the best defense possible but he’s going to hit tough shots. You’ve just got to live with that.” — Harrison Barnes said about Kobe Bryant

COACH’S CORNER: If I haven’t said this yet, it is now abundantly clear why Jackson likes Landry and Lee on the court together. Ezeli, who is still I think a good presence on the defensive end, isn’t quite ready for high-level, fourth-quarter NBA basketball. The Lakers’ games have a way of turning up the pressure, but it all looked to fast for Ezeli. I can definitely see how a coach would prefer the comfort of experience even if it means giving up size.

Landry sitting out the final 8:52 (save for the last possession) now seems borderline unconscionable.

As a feel coach, Jackson has felt a lot of things right. And being an inexperienced coach, you have to expect he’s going to push a wrong button here and there. I thought that happened in overtime when Barnes sat the entire way. Klay was not having a good game (anybody notice how I call him Thompson when he does well and Klay when he doesn’t? lol). He was jumper happy, and his shot selection was questionable, and Metta World Peace made him look every bit a second-year player on the defensive end. On the other hand, Barnes was game for the pressure and intensity. He seemed to play better as the game tightened.

Another questionable call was to not go after Kobe and Dwight Howard on offense. Both had five fouls. That would’ve been the perfect reason to run an iso, try to get them out of the game. However, I get Jackson’s explanation. He said he wasn’t going to chase fouls. Certainly, teams can get too far away from their offense by trying to draw fouls on a specific player.

Still, Howard picked up his fifth foul 12 seconds into the fourth quarter. Bryant picked up his fifth foul with 6:58 left in regulation. Seems like a couple attempts couldn’t have hurt. Landry got two touches in the fourth quarter. It wouldn’t kill your offensive rhythm if he got a few more to go at Howard.

(Of course, Klay had a good chance to get that sixth foul. But indicative of his play, he failed to even try to draw a foul. On a fast-break with 1:39 left and the Warriors down two, he was one-on-one with Howard, who was coming from behind, in transition. Klay went for the nifty reverse layup. But he missed. The smarter move would have been to jump into Howard’s body and try to draw the foul.)

I’ll move on with a kudos: thought it was a smart move to go positive after the game. Several Warriors’ took that loss hard. At Utah is tough, and the Warriors need to get ready for a rough sled. This is the wrong time to start losing confidence.

JACKSON: “I told the guys while I waiting to talk with them, they showed Steve Nash on NBA TV. He was asked ‘What do you guys need to do?’ Steve Nash said ‘We need to play with the spirit that the Warriors play with. Unselfish. They play for one another.’ I’m not going to lose sight of that. We are going to be fine. We will learn from our mistakes made tonight because that is a good team despite their record. I like where we are heading.”

KEY MOMENT II: The back-and-forth game had the Warriors with a 75-68 lead with just over four minutes left in the third quarter. Golden State put together a surge to end the quarter and carry all the momentum, instead of faltering and making it a tight game entering the fourth.

Of course, the game ended up tight anyway. But at the time, it felt like the Warriors were in complete control and were in position to put the game away.

Landry hit a step-back jumper, giving him back-to-back baskets. Then after a stop, Jack nailed a pull-up jumper in transition. To push the lead to 11. The Warriors held the Lakers scoreless for two more possessions, and Curry put Golden State ahead 81-68 with a driving layup. He closed the quarter with a floater, sending Golden State into the fourth quarter ahead 87-74. They were in primed position to pull off a rare win over the Lakers.

TELLING STAT: The Lakers had 56 points in the paint. What’s even more amazing is they took 58 shots inside. Of those, 33 inside attempts came in the second half as the Lakers were resolved to get to the rim. Golden State totaled 38 points in the paint on 19 of 32 shooting.

Los Angeles also dominated second-chance points 19-4. The real odd part about this stat is that Golden State had 15 offensive rebounds. Yes, 4 points of 15 offensive rebounds. The Warriors were 2 of 12 on extra possessions.

SERIOUSLY?: Andris Biedrins played 2 minutes, 25 seconds. After the way he’s been playing, considering he has good history defending Howard, that seems odd.

KEY MOMENT III: Inside of five minutes left, Bryant capped a 19-5 run with a 3-pointer over Barnes, tying the game at 95. The large contingent of Lakers fans went nuts at Oracle Arena.

The very next possession, the Warriors went to Barnes in the post against Bryant. Barnes took his time, got to a comfortable distance and dropped in a 9-foot turn-around jumper, giving the Warriors the lead right back. It was certainly illustrative of how the young, inexperienced Warriors were game for a toe-to-toe with the veteran, star-laden Lakers. 

Jack answered a Jodie Meeks 3-pointer to put Golden State up 100-98. Then after a steal, Barnes put the Warriors up 102-98 with 3:09 left by throwing down a one-hand putback dunk. Even the matter-of-fact Barnes let out a yell after the emphatic dunk.

The Warriors next three possessions were ugly: a missed 3-pointer by Jack, a missed 17-foot baseline jumper by Barnes, a turnover by Ezeli. During that stretch, the Lakers got a pair of free throws from Howard and a Steve Nash 3-pointer to take a 103-102 lead.

But the Warriors responded with an alley-oop from Jack to Ezeli, giving the Warrior s a lead again.

After a steal by Barnes, he pushed it on the break. He didn’t have the numbers, as three Lakers defenders waited for him. But instead of pulling it out for a smart shot (another opportune time for a timeout), Barnes tried to make something happen and wound up missing the fast-break layup with 1:17 left. Bryant answered with a 20-footer to give the Lakers the lead.

BEFORE YOU GO: Forward David Lee finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. But this was more of the old Lee, who put up numbers but didn’t seem to be much of a factor late. He totaled 2 points and 2 rebounds in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Marcus Thompson

  • Ray

    I disagree about Curry being the MDP. It should be Thompson who bricked open jumper after open jumper. There’s no way a quality NBA shooter should miss that many open jumpers. Meanwhile, Curry had to work for his shots which made his low percentage more understandable. If Thompson makes a few of those open jumpers which are supposed to be high percentage shots, it is an entirely different ball game.

  • whoRu

    Klay Thompson’s defense was horrible. The Lakers repeatedly attacked him and couldn’t do anything about it. On top of that, Steve Nash was guarding Klay all night, and Klay couldn’t get by him??!?!!?!? Is he soft or what? I know Klay can shoot lights out, but he’s got to make better decisions on offense and play better on defense. The one chance the Warriors should have went small ball to attack Howard, MJ decides not to….why!? Klay is being babied…he needs to be benched if he’s not performing.

  • Ewok

    Experience is the ultimate factor..

    For this year, the priority is the consolidation of the core foundation.

    The statement the Warriors can best provide for this season is “We Believe, We Belong” among the elite teams of the league (Miami, New York, L.A. OKC, Boston) with the line up we have, we can achieve making it to the playoffs and probably going deeper into it… but let’s not kid ourselves here.. Don’t even talk of a championship this year… although miracles do happen.. But if we think about it, our bench support are mostly rookies..

    We are practically relying on very young players here and most of them are soph-rookies (Thompson, Jenkins Green, Barnes, Ezeli…) However, the talk of a championship should begin when Bogut and Rush with everyone healty plus the strategic acquisitions we can get from Biedrins and RJ contracts..

    But with Barnes, Ezeli, and Green still gaining experience, sooner or later, we are bound to make a few turn-overs along the way.. so i say, let’s get it over with and the sooner, the better…

    I project this team to perform its breakout year this year, and the finals next year.

  • Young

    That was a true Rant!

    Can’t forget, Phil Jackson nvr called timeout to stop and offensive drought and he won the most championships.

    I doubt he waited for his players to “age” before he started his philosophy…

    Just saying. Great article tho…

  • commish

    Merry Christmas Marcus to you and yours! I hope Curry is right: that this game is a real opportunity to learn several things: how to put a team away when you have a chance, how to not collapse in the fourth quarter when a good team is ready to play hard, not to make “rookie” mistakes albeit some players–Klay in particular–are not true rookies. But Marcus, let me ask you this: shouldn’t Mark Jackson already know all these things, or at least enough to make whatever moves his experience has taught him? I am still so pleased with the talent and direction of this team and especially after Bogut returns. I am also gratified to know the days of the Fakers are numbered while ours are just beginning.

  • commish

    One other point about Lee. The Lakers simply played a lot harder in the fourth. Their energy level and play was clearly better their ours. Especially have Nash back and knowing what to do do in the 4th, not to mention Kobe. The Faker’s veteran experience simply took over. Again, I point to Jackson’s lack of appropriate responses to what was happening the most disappointing aspect of the fourth, although Lee is a savvy veteran as well and should have played harder and better in the fourth.

  • Stan

    I hated– DESPISED – that loss. Curry lost dribbles…Lee disappeared. Klay took bad shots. And it still was a close loss in overtime. You could see the Warriors had it in their heads Kobe would beat them. Kobe KNEW he would beat them.
    And when the game was over..the Warriors realized he shouldn’t have. The Warriors are the better TEAM.

  • ddog

    I was at that game, and it was pretty intense for a regular season game.

    It looked to me that a timeout would have been useful just to refocus and redouble the Warriors defense. When the Lakers made a run in the 4th, it seemed like the Warriors let their offensive problems effect their defense, which led to a lack of stops and a lack of pushing the pace.

    Meanwhile the Lakers seemed to get more and more confident that they had figured the Warriors out and could stop them in the 1/2 court.

    No doubt that Coach Jackson decision not to call timeouts is tactically unsound. We’ll have to see how it works out strategically, and whether the end result (wins) justifies the means (loses).

  • GIZZM

    we are a young team 65% of our 8 man rotation is rookies or 2nd year players. Dubs next stretch is very important because the teams behind them have easier schedules.

  • Ultimate Warrior

    When you have Kobe and Howard with 5 fouls each going into OT , why didn’t they attack them? Instead they settled for jump shots, posted against Gasol and totally avoided the elephant in the room. COME ON! Similar to the Denver loss. With 7 seconds on the clock, to end regulation, we just stopped them and could push and attack to win the game. What happens? Calls a timeout, kills the momentum and we lose the possession and go to OT and lose. Coaching is definitely suspect.

  • slamdunk

    The Warriors are definitely playing better, but they have to beat teams like the Lakers to show that they are ready come playoff time. Bogut would help if he ever gets ready to play, as the good coaches are figuring out that the Warriors are too small to keep up with scoring centers, with Lee and Landry on the floor together. The Ellis for Bogut trade looked pretty good when it was made, but the longer Bogut stays out the worse it looks, and it could cost the team a decent playoff spot. They have shown that they can beat up the weaker east coast teams, but they are struggling to match up with Western Conference big guys, and they are basically still a donut team with a hole in the middle.

  • Stan

    Tonight’s a must win game. Not play close..but win. That would take so much fan worry away. Big game.

  • Stan

    The Warriors don’t want to risk pissing away the Heat game. Don’t let it become a fluke.

  • Dave

    At the end of the day, they didn’t get the ball to Lee in the 4th.

  • Dave

    At the end of the day, the Knicks with the best record, also lost to the Lakers with Nash.

  • Stan

    At the end of the day,Stan is always right. A must win–WON!!

  • thewarriorsrule

    Thanks marcus. Totally agree with all of your points, especially how Mark Jackson couldn’t call a timeout, and doesn’t know how to use that weapon to his advantage.

    Yea when the game was over I couldn’t believe they lost when leading most of the game and with a 14 pt lead in the 4th qtr. Hopefully they learn a lot from this game.

    Finally a game where ezeli closes out the 4th qtr or overtime! I just hope that jackson doesnt yank him after his offensive mistakes. Yea we probably needed landry’s interior scoring in the 4th again. My last lineup woulda been jack curry barnes landry and ezeli. I think the warriors are psychologically “afraid” of the lakers, thunder, etc. For example the 1st lakers game when they “didn’t even try”, or the thunder game, and after their 6-1 road trip they felt like “they belong” and finally put that effort this game.

    I think klay makes too many defensive mistakes. I don’t believe he guarded Kobe in team select and this is the result.. Green and Barnes are better defenders and should get the nod in the crunch time. Clearly I favor defense over offense, unlike Jackson. I would have given curry and our key players more rest towards the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th in order to close out the game strong, esp with a 14 pt lead.

    The reason I pick that lineup to close out this particular game. Jack was hot, curry is our franchise player and 3pt shooter, Barnes did a good job guarding Kobe and I think his offense can be just as good or better than klays we just haven’t seen it yet. Barnes has a sweet stroke and he can attack the rim unlike klay. No lee bc of his matador defense and need Landry bc he would look to score inside. Plus jack and Landry have chemistry and have been our “quiet underrated veterans”. Ezeli bc we needed his defensive presence to protect the rim and guard d Howard.

    Totally agree that the warriors settled for jumpers. Howard had 5 fouls to start the 4th. Kobe had 5 fouls and we really needed to take advantage. Bad coaching by Jackson on this game