And then there were eight…

Hey everyone. Just filling in for Marcus while he begins his five-day “vacation.” Of course, he went ahead and broke all kinds of rules with a blog post this morning. Just shows his level of dedication. 

Many of you probably saw this Stephen Jackson video yesterday on hoopshype.com, where he basically said that it’s time to “shut it down and get (his toe fracture) fixed” and begin the process of getting ready for next season. According to a Warriors’ spokesperson, Jackson is seeing a specialist today. An update on how that appointment went may be forthcoming later on.

Corey Maggette (head contusion) has returned to the Bay Area, joining Andris Biedrins and Marco Belinelli. Brandan Wright (left shoulder pain) will not play against the Nuggets on Saturday. The team also reported Friday morning that Jermareo Davidson had successful surgery to repair the stress fracture in his left foot. He’ll be immobilized for the next month.

In case you’re counting, that leaves eight players available for Saturday’s game (Azubuike, Crawford, Ellis, Kurz, Morrow, Randolph, Turiaf, Watson). Should be a great time.


Postgame Tidbits (at Lakers)

* I asked Anthony Randolph about his injury after the game. He flashed one of those faces he’s known for, the one where it looks like he’s about to cry. He was clearly disappointed, which read to me like the prognosis wasn’t good.
He officially has a strained left groin. It’s the same injury he sustained in Chicago trying to block a Tim Thomas shot. Re-aggravations usually means something wasn’t all the way healed, which means he may need some time for it to actually fully heal this time.

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Postgame Tidbits (vs. Lakers)

I normally only do these for road games, but there was too much happening not to post something.

** The first thing that stood out was how Stephen Jackson blasted Nellie. We asked him after the game if he was tired. Here was his response:

“I was definitely tired, coming off of this break. And at the end of the third, end of the fourth, I was definitely tired. Some of my shots were a little short. It kind of showed. He gave me a blow at the wrong time. I could’ve used a blow a little earlier. But you know, I did what I could. I was definitely tired, though.”

Jackson was clearly winded. During one fourth quarter timeout, he took a long time to even walk to the bench. He stayed under the basket by Lakers bench doubled over, trying to catch his breath. Not only was he trying get his offense going (he took 24 shots), but he also had to defend Kobe. He wasn’t going to ask out, but he didn’t hide his feelings that the coach should have pulled him.

“No, that’s not me. That’s not my personality. That’s not who I am. I was trying to find a way to get through it in the timeouts and stuff. Coming out of that break took a little toll on me. Normally I can play these minutes no problem. But tonight it kind of got me to a little bit.”

“Yeah, I think I could’ve come out when he came out. He got a lot of rest. I think the best thing to do was to take me out when he came out of the game. Obviously, I didn’t want to come out at all. But I think for the most part I played great “D” on him. I made him take a lot of tough shots.”

It’s about time somebody in the organization called Nellie on it. You mean putting Belinelli or Morrow in the game in the first half would’ve killed the Warriors chances of winning? I don’t buy it. In trying to squeeze out every win, he ends up costing the Warriors’ wins. When the Lakers started to gain the momentum in the third quarter, Jackson was exhausted and had nothing left. That turned out to be crunch time. If Jackson had more than the 30 seconds of rest at the end of the second quarter, he might’ve had more energy at what turned out to be the most crucial moment in the game.

** Monta didn’t look good down the stretch. Nellie put the ball in his hands in the fourth quarter. He had a rough final five minutes.

4:04 He missed a finger roll a the rim. Ariza, who had hit a 3-pointer before Ellis’ missed, wound up open again after Ellis’ miss, and he nailed it. The Warriors trailed 111-109 just 41 seconfs after they led by four

2:47 He committed a silly reach in foul on Odom inside. Of course, Odom made the basket. The three-point play put the Warriors down 116-112

2:05 The Warriors next offensive possession after his missed 3-pointer, he gets caught in the air and tries to make a pass from the left wing to the top of the key whille off balance. Not only does Odom intercept the pass, by Maggette fouls him. It was called a clear-path foul and Odom got two free throws, which he made and put the Lakers up 120-112

1:31 The next offensive possession, with the Warriors’ desperately needing a bucket, Ellis put his head down and went to the basket. He wound up taking some wild flip shot over with his back to the basket. Kobe came down and nailed a fade-away to seal it.

Oddly enough, Kobe had some noted praise for Ellis after the game:

“He’s phenomenal. He’s one of my favorites in the league to watch,” Bryant said of Ellis. “He’s explosive. He’s still explosive. I don’t care what people say up here. They’re not guarding him. He is quick. He can elevate, finish at the rim and he can shoot. I’m really excited to see him develop as his career goes on.”

** So, Jackson took 24 shots, missed 14. Ellis took 18 shots, missed 11. Randolph took 13 shots, Maggette 16. Crawford, who made his first five baskets, was 6-for-10? Turiaf was 6-for-7? What ever happened to feeding the hot man?
Crawford had 14 in the first quarter. He was feeling it. Nellie pulled him 30 seconds into the second quarter and didn’t bring him back until 3:59 left. He got iced by his own coach!

** Jackson picked up another technical foul. That’s 15, though only 14 counts toward the suspension count. Two more, and he gets an automatic one-game suspension. Jackson, who normally earns his techs, said he didn’t think he earned the T tonight.

“I have said a lot of things to referees to get techs. I just think my reputation gives them a quick whistle. I definitely don’t think I deserved that one tonight. Because I didn’t use any profanity and I didn’t direct anything toward him. I play with a lot of emotion and a lot of refs that have watched me play know I play with a lot of emotion. And as everyone knows in this game, I know how to get technical fouls. That one today, I don’t think I deserved it. But it is what it is. I’ve got to be more cautious so I don’t get suspended.

“I’ve been trying my best, but you know… I play with a lot of emotion. When I feel like I’m not getting a fair shot, obviously, my emotions flare up. But I have been channeling myself not to say any profanity or direct anything towards the ref in order to get a tech. I don’t think I gave enough disrespect to that one today, but it is what it is. I’ve got to deal with it.”

** Randolph looked special tonight. No one on the team brings the combination of intensity and athleticism that he brings. He goes all out and he’s physically spectacular.
I asked Odom after the game about Randolph. He was impressed by Randolph’s follow dunk early in the game.
“He’s got way more athleticism than I’ve ever had. That tip-dunk, my head was right here,” Odom said, pointing to his waist. “I would love to work out with him.”

“It’s like looking in the mirror a little. He’s also 6-11, he’s left-handed and he can put the ball on the floor. He’s two times as athletic as I was at that age. He should set his goals high. He has All-Star potential, Hall of Fame potential, with that size, his ability to put the ball on the floor, he can shoot the three, he can pass. If he stays focused, the sky is the limit for him.”

There were no shortage of times where Randolph crashed the offensive glass or took a shot inside, then hustle all the way down court and came up with a block, or nearly hurt himself trying. He can impact both ends of the court, and because of his athleticism, he produces almost by default.
Even when Andris gets back, there’s no reason for him to not be on the court. Even when Brandan Wright comes back, Nellie still as to get Randolph on the court. From what I’m told, that message is being sent down from the executive suites.

“I was just trying to come out and play hard like I have been the last couple of games. I’m just trying to keep good on faith with coach and hopefully he’ll put me in the game. I just have to keep working hard and just remember how it was in the beginning of the season. I just have to keep on working. Hopefully things will look up and we’ll win some more games.”

** Belinelli, in his first game back, made both his 3-pointers, had four assists and a steal in 15 minutes tonight.


Post-game Tidbits (at Portland)

* The Randolph at starting PF experience didn’t go well. As has been the case with Brandan Wright, Randolph got in foul trouble early. Three fouls in the first eight minutes of the game.
Nellie went with every possible PF he had to avoid going with Randolph again. He even gave Jamareo Davidson the nod.

* Say what you want about Maggette, he looked good tonight. The Warriors were down big and they needed him to score, and he did it with ease. He had 16 of his 25 in the second half. He took just 15 shots and knocked down 7 of 8 from the line.
Afterward, he was focused on something else, though.
Corey: “I didn’t have a choice really. Me and Jamal were the only 20-point scorers out there. … Thing with me is I got careless with the ball. I need to cut back on my turnovers. If I don’t get that turnover (bad pass at 9:55 mark in 4th, led to Portland basket and 12-point deficit), we have a better chance of winning.”
This goes to show that him coming off the bench is where he can be at his best. Maggette is a scoring machine because he gets to the line so much. He literally stopped Portland’s runs on his own. Not only because he scored, but he stopped their momentum by getting to the line, drew fouls on their big men and forced them to adjust their defense. That’s so much better than quick jumpers.

* Davidson fits right in, by the way. He checked in with 1:50 left in the third. His first shot came with 1:30 left in the third. He missed the 14-footer though.
“And I was fouled on that, too,” he said.

* Turiaf’s jumper was on. He hit a 20-footer in the first quarter. He was 3-for-3 in the third quarter (A 9-footer, a turn-around baseline jumper and a 19-footer). He got a dunk before nailing one-more jumper, another 20-footer to cut the Blazers lead to 106-98 with 2:18 left.
And he had seven assists and six rebounds.

*You know whose jumper wasn’t on? Belinelli. He was 2-for-8, 0-for-2 from 3. So in his last five games, he’s 14-for-44 from the field (31.8 percent). He’s 5-for-15 from 3 in that span, so that’s 9-for-29 from inside the arc. The good news: he’s getting to play through it. He needs to learn how to get through slumps and figure out ways to contribute when he’s not knocking down shots.


Doesn’t Look Like Maggette’s the Go-To Guy

Down the stretch Friday in Toronto, the Warriors did all they could to make a go-to guy out of Corey Maggette. The result was three points in the final three minutes.

2:55 Maggette missed a dunk after a beautiful back-door spin. He was called for goal-tending when he tried to grab it while hanging on the rim.
2:02 He started his string of jumpers by bricking a rushed shot
126 With a much smaller Jose Calderon on him, he takes a turnaround, fade-away jumper. He missed.
25.0 Maggette goes one on three to the basket and has his shot blocked by O’Neal
0.07 Maggette runs the clock down and slips and falls, not getting a shot off

After scoring 27 points on 8-for-11 shooting in the season-opener Wednesday, Maggette was 3-for-14 for 12 points through regulation Friday. He was 2-for-9 with 8 points in the fourth quarter.
“I couldn’t throw the ball into the ocean,” Maggette said.
Certainly, he had an off night. But it was partly because of how he was trying to score. They were clearing him out and standing around waiting for him to make a play. Clearly that isn’t his strong suit. He made some poor decisions: taking ill-advised shots, driving wrecklessly in traffic, taking jumpers over a smaller defender.
It just goes to show how tough it is to finish games. Even for a proven scorer like Maggette, it doesn’t come easy. It takes instinct, creativity and a certain “it”.
In a way, the Warriors One of the three isn’t enough.


You Had Questions, Jax Had Answers (Part I)

I’m back from P.A.T. I sat down with Stephen Jackson and told him several bloggers sent me questions for him. He happily answered all of them, to my surprise.
Now I didn’t ask all of them, as I was under time constraints. Some questions were redundant and some of you were being greedy. But I asked most of them. Here is the transcript from YOUR interview with Stephen Jackson.

What would you like to be able to say about your basketball career and your life once you’ve reached the end of both and can reflect back on the journey? – Joe F

“I would like to be remembered as – professionally, as far as basketball wise – I want to be remembered as somebody who appreciated the game and gave 110 percent. As a person, I want to be remembered as a guy who didn’t forget where he came from and always put God and family first.”

How do you feel about having no future with your current team beyond your contract and very probably none beyond next summer? – ROWELL

“It’s something I always think about, but I feel real confident that I will have it soon. I will get something done soon, before the season starts.”

MY FOLLOW-UP: Does it bother you being the Warriors’ fifth highest-paid player?

“It’s definitely something that has to be addressed because of what I do for this team and what I’ve done since I’ve been here, bringing this team from one of the bottom teams in the league to a playoff team, to a team that won 49 games. It’s not what I want, it’s what I deserve. So in the position I’m in now, being the fifth-highest paid player, I feel like from the conversations I’ve had with the team is that it won’t be like that once the season starts. So even if I have to play my two years out and my extension comes two years after that, I’m happy with that. But I won’t be comfortable going into this season knowing I have to play this whole season being the fifth-highest paid. I would not be happy. But I don’t think that situation will occur. I think things will be taken care of before the season started.”

Did you ask to be traded? – ROWELL

“No. I have no idea where that came from.”

How will the identity of the Warriors change without last year’s leading scorer, leader and late-game shot-taker? – Haastheman

“Not only did we lose Baron, a great player, but we have a better team now. Instead of relying on one guy to do what Baron did, we have two or three guys who can fill that void. It’s going to be different not having him because Baron’s a celebrity, All-Star – He’s B. Diddy. There’s only one B. Diddy. But we’ve got a lot of guys to make up for it, but he’s definitely going to be missed.”

How did Baron affect your basketball career and life? – WarriOR FAN

“Losing B.D. always hurt me. That’s my boy – my brother more than my teammate.”

“He made my job easier. Having a guy like Baron, that’s less work I have to do. Baron, he takes up so much attention on the court and its easy for me to do my job. I think with Baron out there, I didn’t have to take on one of those roles of scoring and guarding every body. Now my role is probably like that now. But with Baron, a lot of the scoring load was taken off me because he’s such a great scorer. And he controlled the team and he was good at doing that.”

How many of those high-profile millionaire foundations are sustainable and how do you know yours will be truly successful? – Sad Jose

“A lot of people do foundations not from their heart. They do it because they feel it’s the right thing to do. I’m not doing a foundation ‘cause it’s the right thing to do. I’m doing a foundation because I know this foundation is going to help my city as well as help the youth in my city, and that’s my aim. That’s the only reason I’m doing the foundation ‘cause it’s a way I can give back to my city without coming out of my pocket and we’re doing it the right way with raising money. Any time someone is raising money for something , people will appreciate it more.”

At this point in your life, if you were given the choice to quit the NBA for $65 million or stay in the NBA for three million a year for the rest of his career, what would you choose? – Dub Sauce

“I’ll take the 65 and walk away. I only have, if God say the same, six or seven years left. That don’t add up to 65. From a business standpoint, I would be stupid not to take the 65. But at the same time, I love the game of basketball. Even when I retire, I’m gone play. But that’s a no-brainer.”

Has there been other “works” that have not been covered by the media or that the general public doesn’t know about? Or basically is this all for show? – Tru Warier

“It’s a lot of things I do. Before last year, I did a feed the homeless for Thanksgiving time, two years in a row. Me and Marquise Daniels did that event in Indiana. We fed 500 homeless people every Thanksgiving. That never got on the news. I come home and I get free backpacks and back-to-school stuff and do a back-to-school drive every year. This is my third year doing that. That don’t get publicized. It’s a lot of stuff. But like I say, I don’t do it for it to get noticed. I do it for the people that need it and they appreciate it more than anybody.”

Does seeing the affect that humility has had on the Olympic team make him question his own mindset when part of the Warriors? – Dan

“I feel like I should be out there. I really don’t feel like they picked the best players for the thing. I think they picked the guys that they feel like are the best role models in the NBA. Which is cool. But I don’t think they’re the best players. I think its guys who are gonna represent the NBA the best. And I understand that, because in the Olympics, you gotta have shooters to play that Euro style of game. That’s why the Euro teams are always successful because its their style. But I think anytime you have Kobe, Carmelo and LeBron on the same team, it’s impossible to lose. So, I think its great that they can put all their egos aside and play together because its good for the world to see. I know I enjoy watching them play.”

MY FOLLOW-UP: How would such a mentality impact the NBA?

“If guys can put their egos aside and play basketball, it shows they appreciate the game and they’re not just in it for the money. Obviously, everybody wants to get taken care of. But I know guys like me, the reason why I made it to the NBA is not only because I was blessed, but I take pride in the game. I love what I do. And if more guys looked at the game like that as far as loving the game and having a passion for it, there would be less egos.”

Have you heard a better sports quote than your own: “I make love to pressure”? – Daovis

“No. That’s the best. I know, especially being a man, every man thinks he’s the best love maker in the world. So when I feel like I’m in pressure. I caress it. I don’t buckle, I enjoy it. I enjoy being under pressure. That’s what I meant when I say it. I don’t think there’s a better saying than that. If someone can put handling pressure better than that, than I need to hear it.”

Do you honestly think this current team can make the playoffs and what does this team need to do to make the playoffs? – Commish

“First of all, I wouldn’t be a captain of the team saying we’re not going to make it. I shouldn’t even be on this team. I definitely think we’re going to make it. And the reason why is because not only did we lose an All-Star, but we got better as a team. We know we won 49 games and we’re a better team, so I definitely think we’re going to make the playoffs. And what its going to take to do that is guys putting their egos aside, everybody coming together and not worrying about who’s getting the praise for winning, not worrying about who’s making the All-Star game, not worrying about whose going to get Sixth Man or MVP. Just worrying about making it to the playoffs and playing for each other. Playing for Nellie, it’s easy to go out there and just play basketball because of the style he plays. We just need to go out there and play basketball, rely on each other, be on the same page and we’ll be all right because we’ve got everything we need.”

If you could change anything about your past in regards to basketball, what would it be and why? – Eastern Europe Warriors

“I don’t regret leaving San Antonio because I felt like that was the road I had to go down. There’s one thing I do regret – that’s not going to college. Because I missed out on a national championship my freshman year. I was supposed to go to Arizona and they won a national championship my freshman year. And there were some things that I wasn’t ready for when I got to the NBA as far as being mentally prepared. There’s a lot of stuff I could’ve learned in school that would’ve helped me grow and be mentally prepared for the NBA and paying bills and stuff like that. So I do regret not going to college. But as far as getting cut by teams, not staying in San Antonio, getting in trouble at the strip clubs, getting in the fight in Detroit – I don’t regret none of that because that made me the person I am today.”