Yesterday's tragedy (Yes, tragedy) was possibly one of the most baffling games of the season for me. I can't specifically say that it was one flaw in our game that makes me feel this way, but rather the sum of all of the factors that led to this loss. As the clock ticked down in the 4th and the realization of what this loss meant set in, it really made me look at the Warriors of this season in a completely different light.
What kind of team are we really? After last years miraculous Playoff birth and first round upset, Warriors Nation has been led to believe that this is a team of scrappers. A team that will never back down. A team that thrives on pressure and performs better as the underdog.
Well last night we were faced with all of these scenarios. And we weren't scrappers. We did back down. And when the pressure was on and we were the underdogs, we caved.
A picture is worth 100 words.
I know. I'm being harsh. It was just one game and we can all think of dozens of games this season where we came out and performed like the Warriors that we all know and loved. Hell we wouldn't have 44 wins at this point if we stepped up to challenges multiple times this season.
I just wish that the Warriors we all know and loved showed up to the Mile High city yesterday. And I know you do to. So go aheadand make the JUMP with me. We're here for you.
Where oh where was the D? That was a question that I started asking myself in the first quarter and never stopped until the end of the 4th. Last night the Nuggets were able to put on a high flying display for their fans because when it came to the paint, the Warriors were nowhere to be found! I can't even count how many times we saw a weak side dish to dunk from the Nuggets in the first quarter alone. Understandably this is going to happen a few times. But how many times exactly does it need to happen before someone steps in with some weak side help?!
When the easy dunk wasn't available for Denver, it seemed as though the easy boards and second chance points were. I checked the box score this morning and was pretty surprised to see that we had the same amount of offensive boards as the Nuggets, because it really seemed like they were killing us on the offensive glass last night. Perhaps they were more efficient in converting on their offensive boards. I'd welcome any analysis in the comments proving or disproving this theory.
Now before I get into a Warriors bashing rant, something that I really don't want to do over one game (despite the importance), I need to give all the credit in the world to Denver. We really were facing a team that was firing on all cylinders last night. It's natural for an opponent to see a team like the Nuggets and focus on containing `Melo and A.I. Unfortunately, we forgot that Kmart is a damn good baller himself; a fact that he had no problem reminding us of last night.
Simple equation. Kmart - Injuries = Warrior Killer
In the meanwhile, we had J.R. Smith lighting us up from all over the floor, `Melo dishing the ball like Chris Webber of yore, and even Najara with a couple of timely threes! And while Iverson didn't throw down a 40 point game on us, he wasn't exactly sleeping out there either. Add all of these factors together and we would have needed a monumental game from all of our weapons to shut Denver down. That being said, aside from some dismal defense that let the Nuggets out to an early lead, we strung together a decent game.
Jackson was absolutely electric from beyond. Shooting 4 for 7 from the land of plenty, it seemed as though all of his threes came at the best times. Every time Denver started to put together a run, there was Captain Jack with a three to slow their roll. In addition, Lord Baron was on point out there as well. Throughout the game, we were treated to plenty of Baron's "Oh-My-God-Did-He-Just-Take-Th - YESSSSSSS!!!!" shots. Certainly some of his shots were not highly advisable, but we all know by now that Baron can and will nail plenty of those. That's why Baron is Baron.
In addition to good showings by Jack and Boom, our young `uns definitely came with their A-games last night. Ellis brought in 22 points, 7 boards (god I love to see him rebound), and 6 dimes while Beans came off the bench to lay in a cool 17 with an incredible 17 boards.
When we were actually able to regain the lead in the third quarter, we were treated to the type of game that we were all hoping to see played out for 48 minutes last night. Lead change after lead change, bucket after bucket; for about 10 minutes the Warriors and Nuggets were gladiators dueling for the glory of the coveted 8th seed.
Unfortunately, the battle did not last long. In a blink of an eye in the 4th, we were down by 12 with some well timed shots by Smith and Najera. Before I knew it, it was over, and we were left with nothing but the harsh reality of this loss. Kmart and J.R. Smith shared the Warrior killer crown all we had to hold over our heads was the shame of 9th place.
We don't have time to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. We have to take this reality and use it to fuel a very big and much needed win tonight. The Mavs must once again feel our fury.
Keep your head up Warriors Nation. The battle rages on.
I loved Beans' amazing output tonight and I love the fact that Baron was playing like Baron, but Captain Jack's threes seemed like the thing that was keeping us in this game. Take it down Jack. Take it down.