We’re going to be fine.
It’s been one of Mark Jackson’s stock lines after a series of throwaway losses this year, but he didn’t utter it after Thursday night’s mortifying 104-102 loss to a shell of the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle. Maybe even Jackson, ever the faithful optimist about his team, has some doubt creeping in about whether this bunch has the goods to right its foundering ship, or whether he has the coaching wherewithal to deliver tangible solutions to the myriad problems.
We’re virtually a third of the way through the 82-game season. The Warriors are 14-13. They have two — count ’em — wins against teams with a winning record. They stand as one of the biggest disappointments in the league to this point, even considering their tough schedule. Lose four or five win-able games and that’s the different between 18-9 and 14-13. With the Spurs’ big three — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili — all out, losing to the leftovers is humbling and perhaps telling. As Andrew Bogut said afterward, “We can’t lose this game at home .. period.” But they did.
So the Warriors are going to be fine? When? They’re 3 1/2 games out of the fifth spot in the Western Conference standings and the gap is widening. They as close to 12th in the conference standings as they are to eighth. So nobody can say with any degree of assurance right now that they are going to be fine.
There are no mysteries about why the Warriors are treading water. For the most part, it’s them. Their penchant for turning the ball over is killing them — 24 in this game that resulted in 31 San Antonio points. The defense has been average at best — the Spurs’ backups to the backups scored 35 in the second quarter of this game. Horrible. Klay Thompson, who came out of training camp as the team’s best two-way player, hasn’t been playing very well either way for the better part of a month. Harrison Barnes, such a stud in the playoffs last year, has been mostly dud in many of the Warriors’ losses. On this night, he played nearly 20 minutes and didn’t score a single point. How is that possible? Barnes only took three shots, two of them clanked 3-pointers.
Jarrett Jack anyone? Last year, Jack saved a lot of games like the one that transpired on this night. He was more often than not at the ready when Thompson or Barnes went cold, or even Stephen Curry. But the Warriors simply don’t have a bench savior this year, and that’s killing them, too. Toney Douglas hasn’t remotely looked like the answer for Jack’s loss so far. With Thompson going so bad against the Spurs, Jackson had to turn to Kent Bazemore out of desperation. Bazemore actually had some of his better minutes of his Warriors career in the third quarter, but let’s face it, he’s not going to be a guy who turns the tide. The main guys have to do it. In the San Antonio-Golden State bench battle, the Warriors were outscored 41-13. Marco Belinelli had more than double the points as the Warriors entire bench combined with 28.
Curry, who spent several minutes after the game sitting at his locker staring off into space, has to be wondering what he has to do at this point. He’s had his own deficiencies with turnovers, but at least he’s compensating. He put the team on his back in the fourth quarter and nearly pulled out the game by himself, scoring 30 points with 15 assists. He’s averaging nearly 30 points over his last 12 games yet the Warriors are 5-7.
Other players have to get it going. David Lee, the favorite whipping boy of many fans, has the past two games. He had 32 points and 13 rebounds against the Spurs. Bogut has been tremendous on the boards. He had 18 in this game, but other than the lob dunks, they continue to ignore him on offense. They didn’t run a single play for him in this game, not one. The man must be more a part of the offense to open up the perimeter.
The scary part is that while Andre Iguodala was down for 12 games, Curry, Lee, Bogut and Thompson have all been healthy for pretty much the entire year. Can the Warriors bank on that lasting?
We are going to be fine. Hollow prophecy right now.