Preview/ Game Thread (735+ Comments): Don't be a Faker to Oakland while drinking your lemonade in the Roaracle
Warriors Web Post Game Links: Grrr...
Final score: Lakers $91,377,313 - Warriors $65,644,330. Those are the respective payrolls of Jerry Buss' Lakers, and Chris Cohan's Warriors. Do I need to go any further in analyzing this basketball game?
OK, feltbot, don't be a Faker-hater. I'll start over, and give these Lakers some respect: On paper, at least, one might think our Warriors match up pretty well with the Lakers. One-name superstar? Kobe, Monta, check. Euro-four? Pau Gasol, Vlad Rad, check. Muscleman small forward? Ron Artest, Corey Maggette, check. Young seven-footer with insane upside? Andrew Bynum, Anthony Randolph, check.
If there's one thing the Warriors lack that the Lakers have it's this: the talented Hollywood D-lister off the bench. Mr. Khloe Kardashian, check.
Oops, I did it again. Hey, it's a hard, hard thing for a Bay Area guy to admit that these Lakers are simply out of our Warriors' class. But that's the cold hard truth. The Lakers are just too big and too talented for the Warriors to compete with. And not just the Warriors. If by season's end the Lakers don't prove too big and too talented for every other team in the league as well, I'll eat my remote. The Lakers have put together one of the most frightening assemblages of talent ever to set foot on the hardwood. In my opinion, only the possibility of injury stands between them and immortality. 70 wins? I wouldn't be surprised. The NBA title? Almost assuredly.
But even with the huge disparity in talent between the two teams, this was a disappointing loss for the Warriors. Right after playing two and 3/4 great games against three of the best teams in the West, the Warriors simply didn't bring it in this game. "No energy," "didn't compete," "selfish." Those are some of the words Coach Keith Smart used to describe this performance. And then this: "star-struck." Ouch!
Let's go to the key matchups:
Monta vs. Kobe: The box score makes it look like this was an even matchup, but the boxscore lies. Monta recently had a terrific defensive game against Brandon Roy. He was able to shut him down guarding him man-to-man. But Brandon Roy is not Kobe. (If he were, we'd call him "Brandon," not "Brandon Roy." ) Against Kobe, Monta required frequent help from double teams. And for the first half, at least, Kobe was content to move the ball to the open man, setting up easy threes, and layups for his big men.
Monta was not able to impose his will offensively either. Kobe did a decent job of staying in front of him, and turned him over several times. When Monta was able to penetrate, he found it difficult to finish against the Lakers' giant front line. He did a decent job of creating for his teammates, but no one, including himself, was able to hit a shot from outside. Star-struck? Hmmm.
Monta has looked like a star lately. Like the player we remembered from two years ago. He didn't play great in this game, against one of the greatest players, and one of the most imposing defenses in the league. But there were signs that he might in the near future. He needs a tougher handle, and perhaps a little more confidence in himself and his teammates.
Pau Gasol vs. Vlad Rad: This was the matchup that really killed the Warriors. Gasol is a legitimate superstar, and he got everything he wanted in this game. Vlad Rad, on the other hand, showed why he has largely driven his coaches crazy thus far in his career. He didn't fight hard enough to keep Gasol out of the paint. And he didn't punish Gasol on the offensive end. Like Anthony Morrow, for Vlad Rad to be an effective player, he needs to hit his open shots. He didn't get it done tonight.
Curry vs. Fisher: Hate to say it, but the Flopping Fish outplayed the rookie tonight. He didn't have much trouble getting to his spots on the floor, and he nailed several shots in Curry's face. On offense, Curry again opened the game passively, and again got a lecture to be more aggressive from Coach Smart. He did a much better job looking for his offense after that, but couldn't hit a shot in the second half. On the positive side, he did do a nice job limiting his turnovers: only 1 this game, against 8 assists.
Anthony Randolph vs. Himself: We've all seen flashes of Randolph's insane upside. Unfortunately, tonight's performance put the emphasis on insane. Anthony Randolph picked up his second melted brain of the year in this game, but this time it was his own. Pau Gasol was simply too much for Anthony Randolph to handle. He picked up two quick fouls trying to guard him in his first minute on the court. He couldn't keep Gasol off the boards either, even giving up an offensive rebound on a free throw. And he couldn't get anything against him on the offensive end. He was forced to settle for jumpers, and he didn't hit them, earning himself a quick hook from Smart.
In the second half, Randolph's frustration grew to the point that he took the matchup personally. After knocking the ball away from Gasol, he dived into the front row after the ball, completely wiping out three fans. Without a glance back, let alone an expression of concern for the fans he had just concussed, Randolph rushed back onto the court and began jawing at Gasol. When the refs and then Kobe interceded, Randolph lit into Kobe. If you've never seen a 20-year-old player tell the face of the NBA to "Back up!" I recommend you replay this tape and employ your amateur lip-reading skills. You'll see it, and possibly a choice epithet to boot.
Keith Smart wisely pulled Randolph from the game, and left him on the bench until garbage time. Will this performance cause the Bay Area media to lower the heat on Don Nelson over Randolph's playing time, and seriously consider Coach Smart's insinuation that Randolph is not NBA-ready? Um, I wouldn't count on it.