(It’s back. Sorry for the hiatus.)
Forget that “we don’t believe in moral victories” talk. After getting demolished by Miami at home, playing without Stephen Curry, playing in a place they never win,Golden State’s performance was encouraging.
The Warriors looked more like the gritty, resilient team that rose to No. 5 in the conference.
DAVID LEE: “Unfortunately, we were shorthanded tonight again. This kind of loss is a lot easier to handle than the game against Miami, where they played harder than we did 48 minutes. I thought tonight we matched the Spurs’ intensity. Towards the end of the game, they did what they do best by going to Duncan and Parker and have their role players doing what they do.”
Still, the Warriors have lost three straight and five of six. They are down to eight games over .500 and have no idea when Curry (sprained right ankle) is returning.
Right now, the Warriors are in survival mode. But they have a much better chance of hanging in there if they play like the did at San Antonio.
MARK JACKSON: “I was really happy with our team’s energy and effort. We took care of the basketball and competed. We lost to a very good team in their building. They (the Spurs) made plays and they made some tough shots. You have to give them credit. I really liked the way my team competed tough.”
More on Friday’s defeat …
WRITER’S RANT: It’s hard not to feel like the Warriors are not maximizing rookie Harrison Barnes. I am not saying he’s not complicit in his minimal impact, but it just seems like the bench should be more deliberate about milking his ability.
As it is now, if he’s got it going, he gets touches. But let him miss a few and he gets relegated to the back of the line.
I get it. He has to take control, be aggressive. He has the green light. But it’s clear he doesn’t feel comfortable taking it AND is not yet adept at just manufacturing offense. That means his impact needs to be more structured. Especially with Curry out, he should have a bigger role in the offense.
Five shots in 38 minutes? Really?
You can’t tell me Barnes in the post, or coming off a screen around the elbow area, is not a better shot than Klay jacking 3-pointers or Lee’s spinning hook away from the basket? It’s a waste to just let him float and wait for his teammates to finding him spotting up. Help him get going, deliberately. And don’t be deterred because he starts 1-for-5. Like Landry, Barnes has bankable abilities that are high(er) percentage if executed properly.
It’s clear, he’s not going to consistently just go get his. But the Warriors need what he has, so it’s high time they lead their horse to the water and help him drink.
MVP: Jarrett Jack
The veteran guard bounced back in a major way. He embraced the blame for the loss to Miami after committing five turnovers and setting the tone for a Warriors’ discombobulated by Miami’s pressure.
But Jack responded with 20 points, 10 assists and 1 turnover on Friday. He was back to being steady, gritty and clutch. He had his midrange clicking, which is a sign his ailing right elbow is improving.
Jack epitomizes the spirit of the Warriors, so it’s no surprise that his bounce back led to a much better showing by the Warriors.
MDP: Klay Thompson
Yes, he had 21 points. But 10 of those came in the first few minutes of the game as he opened the game in a rhythm. After that, it was downhill offensively.
He practically abandoned penetration and kept firing up jumpers. With Curry out, the Warriors really need better play from him.
His did as good a job as can be expected defending point guard Tony Parker. But his combination of poor shot selection and brain farts on the court are hurting the Warriors.
They need the Klay who mixes it up, who can find his teammates (he made a great interior pass to Landry on Friday) and who rebounds.
TELLING STAT: Golden State had nine turnovers, 15 fewer than against Miami. Part of it was because Jack was much more under control. But it was also the Warriors slowed things down in the second half and went at San Antonio in the halfcourt setting. It’s one thing to say value the basketball. But Friday, the Warriors played a style that puts a premium on quality possessions, which is needed desperately against San Antonio.
YEAH, WHAT HE SAID: “It’s a good win against a heck of a team. Mark has set a standard and put in a system that is really solid and really good. He’s gotten his guys to buy into it. They’re confident. It’s a fine basketball team and they didn’t even have two of their best players.” - Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
KEY MOMENT: Last game, the Warriors trailed by 14 at the start of the third quarter and Miami put the game away with a run, turning it into a blowout. Friday was different.
The Warriors trailed 80-73 early in the fourth quarter and were a good Spurs run from being put to bed early.
But Jack knocked down a pair of jumpers, then Thompson followed a 3-pointer with a pull-up jumper. Next thing you know, the game was tied at 82.
COACHES CORNER: Games like these are really where Mark Jackson is at his best. Odds against them. Counted out. Low expectations. He gets his guys to play above their heads. That’s not always enough, but a special ability nonetheless.
He pushed a couple of buttons on Friday that worked. One of them was getting Kent Bazemore some meaningful minutes. Not only is the rookie guard a ball of energy, but he has legitimate shooting guard size. He can handle himself against opposing SGs (unlike Stephen Curry Charles Jenkins, who are undersized). Playing Bazemore behinds Klay keeps the Warriors from having to compensate for having small guards.
I didn’t mind that he didn’t play Bazemore longer or in the second half. It’s best for Bazemore to be eased into the rotation. But it’s something Jackson should try again, especially when Curry is out.
Jackson also emphasized feeding Carl Landry early, something that did not happen against Miami. The Warriors don’t have a better solution for picking up the offensive punch lost with Curry’s injury.
But they went away from it in the second half.
Landry took 3 shots in the second half after racking up 15 points in the first half. Two of his three shots were jumpers. Would’ve liked to see the Warriors milk Landry in the post intentionally, especially when baskets became a premium.
SERIOUSLY?!: The second half was delayed 20 minutes while the rim on the basket in front of Golden State’s bench was changed. The room loosened up over the first half. The Spurs announcers blamed it on Carl Landry. On one Thompson jumper, you could see the rim rattle. The NBA likes the rims tight.
Since the game was delayed, both teams went back to the locker room.
BEFORE YOU GO: Warriors rookie forward Draymond Green is starting to knock down some outside shots. Despite making close to a quarter of his shots, Green insisted he had an outside shot.
He said he’s been getting up a lot of extra shots. He said that has really worked wonders on his confidence, which had faded during his two-month jumper slump. You can definitely see that he believes his shots are going in now.
GREEN: “I lost confidence. But knowing I am putting in the work helps me think they’re going in.”