In the post-game interview, coach Keith Smart said he was worried that the Warriors might come out flat, having the post-Xmas day off and a light practice in the morning focused on shooting and free throws. The Warriors came out flat alright, but so did the road-weary 76ers (9-5 in their last 14 games), who just came off a thrilling victory against the Denver Nuggets last night, and also missing Andre Iguodala -- incidentally, the Sixers still have to go to Phoenix, LA, then New Orleans before heading home. It was a pretty ugly first quarter.
And then Dorell Wright collected 28 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, while going 5-for-7 downtown, 8-for-11 overall. He now has almost as many three-point field goals made this season as he's had in his first six years combined in the NBA with the Miami Heat.
You can check my near play-by-play tweet/note-taking at the bottom of this post, but basically the storyline goes a little like this. Both teams came out flat, then with the help of Elton Brand, the Sixers started beasting a little on the thin Andris Biedrins-less Warrior front line. Late in the 2nd, Monta Ellis hit a trey then assisted Rodney Carney on another and all of a sudden the Dubs took a six-point lead into halftime.
David Lee focused himself more on neutralizing Brand and was effective. Then the turning point. You won't believe this. Not one, but two Dorell upfake-draw-contact-be-like-Wade plays -- errors by Brand then Evan Turner in succession -- that set the Warriors off on an 8-point lead which became 10, then 14. Add some Stephen Curry usual 4th quarter heroics (10 of his 17 points from 6:38 to 3:18 left in the game), an unfortunate substitution of Spencer Hawes for a tired Brand which helped the Warriors, and voila, 15-point victory on an over-matched, equally wet-behind-the-ears young squad.
And now, let us turn our attention to some nitpicking:
Dorell has to be careful with that upfake move
Fitz was chiding the Sixers for not watching tape of Wright to know that it's his favorite move. But the Sixers were coming off a victory at Mile High and, yeah, probably simply didn't do their homework. That the two moves were the turning point in the game may not bode well for the Warriors in the long run. I can already envision Dorell thinking that's his go-to move. It's not. It has not worked too many times. But tonight against this Sixers squad, it did. Just as 65% shooting from beyond the arc (15-for-23 overall) cannot be counted on, except for once in a blue moon.
Steph still makes some mental "youngsta" mistakes
First, the 3rd personal foul on a would-be offensive rebound by Brand on a Sixers shot that rimmed out far weakside. There's no way you're gonna get that one. Let Brand have it. Get out of the way completely. Sure, the ref didn't really need to call that, but hey you're the Warriors, you are not going to get "respect" calls from refs. You need to think ahead just a little bit. That 3rd foul takes Steph off the floor late first half.
Then there's that late-game trey that was too early in the shotclock, when with just a few minutes left to wrap up the game, the clock is your primary enemy. Or the nice move to get himself open at the left free throw elbow, only to pass to David Lee, who thankfully volleyball touch-passed it back to Steph and Steph ended up with a scoop at the rim. Just picture in your head Chris Paul. Does CP3 pass up that jumper? That's an opportunity to grab your opponent by his heart. It's a chance to make them think, "Dang, we just can't stop this guy. Can't leave him out there, can't bite at him. We are at his mercy."
Sooner or later, Steph needs to know that he is oh-so-close to being a feared weapon out there, with the diverse (for lack of a better comparison) Poor Man's CP3 skills -- albeit skewed a bit more towards shooting than passing, opposite of CP3 -- that are evolving in Steph's game.
Let's not get too excited about this one
Albeit, it is the Warriors' first 3-game winning streak since April of 2009. The Sixers were really bad. And without AI9, although I am not too high on Iggy (too soft!...sorry!). They'd make a mental mistake that killed any chance of building momentum. For example, a silly Andres Nocioni travel on a possible fastbreak, a bad pass into the backcourt, terrible help defense which made Turner look especially bad on a backdoor by Monta early in the game (bounce pass assist by Dorell). Brand deciding to shut the beastiness off.
Poor Evan Turner
He's looking like a bust. But the Sixers should have known that taking the ball out of his hands after playing point for OSU last year, then installing the rigid Doug Collins system would put Turner in a world he does not know how to handle. With Jrue Holiday (who had a pretty good game as you would expect) and Lou Williams (out), when does Turner ever bring up the ball? You're asking a guy to now play off the ball, when his greatest asset is creating with ball in hand. Granted, the Sixers may have been in no political position at #2 to pick anyone other than Turner, but they mixed oil with water. Still, it seems Turner isn't doing his homework on defense, leaving his feet on the Dorell fake and then also watching Monta, forgetting about Wright, who nailed the trey.
Jodie Meeks: I like
He's rugged, he's tough, he likes contact. And he can drill jumpers. He was off tonight from downtown (2-for-9), but it's clear that he's a solid shooter. ESPN analyst David Thorpe loved him a couple Summer Leagues ago, and for good reason. He's coming into his own. On the flipside, you can see that Monta and Curry are just a tad too soft on D against guards with girth such as Meeks. And I don't think it's physical attributes I'm concerned with, with Monta and Curry on D. It's attitude.
Spencer Hawes: yikes!
"A" for effort, though. Oh btw, Thaddeus Young looks kind of lost out there. Still managed decent numbers.
Elton Brand: still not 100%?
Elton beasted a little, but then in the most telling move, he attacked Lou Amundson and almost had Lou pinned beneath the deep circle, but then passed it off to Nocioni who missed the open trey. Maybe Elton's getting fatigued a little too quickly these days? The old Elton would've asserted himself as mayor of the paint and got an and-one on Lou.
Lou is trying to do too much
Early in the game, he tried to make some plays. That's not your skillset, big fella. You fill the gaps. You crash, crash, and crash some more. That's it.
Btw, nice traveling on that early runout courtesy of no-call on Monta's kick ball! LOL.
Ekpe Udoh looks good
With Lou trying to do too much, why not let Udoh play some more minutes? Is Udoh perhaps still not 100% health-wise? I don't get it. His jumper is pretty sweet. This for a rookie! IMHO, his jumper looks (I did not say "is") as good as Amare Stoudemire's. I mean form-wise. Not saying it's going in like Amare's but it's pretty to watch. You can't say that for many 6'11" guys!
After all, Udoh's the #6 pick and, despite our initial misgivings, now we can finally see signs of why Larry Riley (or the people who whisper in Riley's ear) coveted him so highly. On paper, Udoh needs to soon be starting. It is his destiny. Amundson needs to be a spark off the bench. That has become Lou's destiny, he proved it last season in the playoffs for Phoenix, and he gets paid well to fulfill that destiny.
Monta is nursing a small injury, and he may have taken a couple of ill-advised jumpers in the beginning of the game, but he's definitely sharing the ball and proving he can set people up. I think the ill-advised jumpers in the beginning was simply a mini-heatcheck of his at the start, to see if his jumper was falling on a night that would otherwise be hampered a bit. That tells me he's thinking during the game and not just acting on instinct. The Warriors need more players who are thinking.
Oh, Vlad Rad played pretty good!
Some steals, knock-down treys, swing passes. But sometimes he's swing-passing too much still.
Carney was also solid in his limited minutes
Although he did miss a runout two-handed dunk that, fortunately, David Lee followed with a dunk putback. I liked the confidence on that trey before halftime. Did not hesitate one iota. Knew he was shooting it the second the pass was made to him. Maybe he saw what Jared Dudley has been doing for Phoenix lately?
Reggie Williams: Sophomore team All-Star Weekend?
The debate rages! Okay, not really. At 11.6 ppg, he's currently 8th amongst 2nd-year players in scoring. Unfortunately, he had 0 pts tonight due to Dorell's heat stroke. Nothing you can really do about that. After all, his job is to fill in when Dorell is not hitting like he was tonight.
Also, Jim Barnett noted that with Curry already a shoo-in for a Soph spot, Reggie's chances diminish greatly.
Actually, I thought Reggie qualifies as a rookie? Or maybe I was too busy twittering to pay closer attention to the TV graphic? Someone hit me up on Twitter (@poormanscommish) and let me know -- too hard to wade through the comments!
Now that we're talking future...
Based on recurring trends everytime I do a game recap, the Warriors eventually need to get some more veterans on this squad. There are just too many unforced errors at inopportune times. The first half was a great example when both the Sixers and Warriors were trading mental miscues. Quality veterans don't commit backcourt violations on bad passes. Teams with high IQ don't pass around the perimeter and finally take a shot just because the defense has retreated and is daring you to take a shot. There's a lack of confidence in some sort of system that will get the right guy open. Or failing that, veterans are supposed to attack their opponent with long-term game purpose, to assert dominance (per the Steph criticism above), instead of relying on emotion.
The amazing stats collected this game will hide some of these warts. I don't know what trades or roster moves to make, but Keith Smart keeps saying he wants guys to play at a high level. That means a high IQ. And the Warriors just don't have that right now. You look at veteran teams on the NBA TV highlights, it's the Rockets figuring it out and sharing the ball. It's the Mavericks with an ultra-high-IQ zone employed on defense. Even the Hornets looked good, courtesy of CP3 of course, despite eventually being over-run tonight by the more-talented Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, and an emotionally charged young supporting cast (e.g., Wesley Johnson hitting treys). These franchises have gone out of their way to get quality veterans.
Transcript of @nbalivetweet
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Sixers win tip. Spencer Jawed bad turnover on cut that Lou Williams didn't make. Curry miss floater. Nocioni miss floater. D.Lee bad pass.
Brand outback no good. D.Lee Hairball. Holiday miss bunny. Turnover pass to Amundson. 0-0. Tiles. Smart timeout.
Nocioni charge. Monta j good. Sixers miss at rim. D.Lee j good. Holiday j no good. D.Lee miss same spot. Hawes travel on uptake dribble.
Dorell Wright two FTs makes it 6-0 Warriors. Nocioni j good. Approaching 8:00. Wright trey assist Curry. Sixers fastbrk good. Amundson j.
Sixers pass off Monta foot leads to Amundson runout power dunk. That was definitely traveling by Lou haha. And Monta was a kick per replay.
Meeks dribbled and loses outta bounds baseline. Curry drills Open trey up top. Weak D by Sixers. Hawes long j good. Monta bad pass.
Meeks fastbrk layup hacked by Monta. No call. Meeks miss j. Evan Turner checks in. Warriors 16, Sixers 6. Approaching 6:00 Q1.
Amundson with a driving layup out of his skillset. Brick rebound Thaddeus. Brand fouled, two FTs good. Curry teardrop short. Timeout.
Warriors 16, Sixers 8, 5:36 Q1. TV graphic: Vlad Rad increase FGP by 15%! Amundson blocks base take by Evan Turner! But fouls Thaddeus oreb.
Another block by Amundson on Evan Turner take. Holiday gets oreb putback and-one on chg attempt by Curry. D.Lee j good. Sixers answer.
Monta miss drive. Holiday fouled. Makes both. Warriors 18, Sixers 16, Q1 4:20. D.Lee miss RH. Thaddeus smooth bucket. Monta j no rebounders.
Thaddeus scores in Vlad Rad's face R baseline. Reggie Williams teardrop no good. Meeks miss nice swing open L corner trey. Monta backdoor.
Meeks left open R corner trey swish. How is he so open? Monta bad j no one underneath. Easy cut middle Sixers big on Vlad Rad. Smart timeout
That was Dorell Wright on the assist bouncer to Monta backdoor (on Evan Turner?).
Sixers 21-4 run. Wow Collins +10, +18, +18 in wins when taking over franchises.
D.Wright banker assist D.Lee. D.Wright steal. Vlad Rad trey assist Monta. Warriors 25, Sixers 25 under 1:00. Hawes layup good.
Monta miss open trey via D.Lee handoff. Holiday trey with shotclock down. Monta miss banker at buzzer nice RH drive. Sixers 30, Warriors 25.
D.Lee oreb deep L corner on D.Wright miss with hand in face shotclock down but sends pass to backcourt. Violation. Hawes 2 down low again.
Udoh subs in. Monta nice slice with ball layup L side no good. Turner j no good. D.Wright trey via Monta after looking at line/feet.
Terrible D by Sixers on leaving D.Wright trey. Meeks strong L base drive draws two FTs. Both good. Another backcourt violation. Vlad Rad.
Vlad Rad passed up open L elbow trey for a ridiculously bad pass to D.Wright that went backcourt. Udoh nice power move foul but no and-one.
Rookie Udoh does not get that and-one. Gotta pay your dues. Brand strong underneath against soft GSW interior. Reggie miss trey.
Sixers 7th turnover leads to runout dunk by D.Wright. Turner traps himself into baseline and Monta ties up xcourt pass. Jumpball. Timeout.
Another meh play by Evan Turner. Talk about a huge dropoff in "draft stock". His playing pg for OSU has not translated well.
Dorell Wright with 12 pts. 3pt FG made by Wright this season: 69. First 6 seasons: 73. What a stat!
Previously D.Wright had a trey pump and reload that missed with no one under tho. Needs to ditch that habit.
Brand strong oreb but no call on physicality. Warriors throw it away. Brand inside power. Carney bad layup attempt hits side of backboard.
Unforced turnover by Holiday. Monta drills crossover R to L long j. Brand powers two inside again. Timeout.
Sixers 37, Warriors 32, 5:30 Q2. Monta j good via Udoh high PNR. Brand j good. Udoh miss jumphook. Udoh blocks Thaddeus who gets putbak good
Curry checks in wearing those low tops. Assist j. Thaddeus power move good. Curry trey corner assist Monta trading xcourt passes.
D.Wright open trey good on attack and hangtim LH baseline Monta. Curry steal runout Carney, blows 2-handed tomahawk but D.Lee dunks putbak!
Timeout Sixers. Warriors take lead 46-45 with 2:26 left Q2. Broadcast Q&A: should Reggie Williams make Rookie-Soph game? 8th in ppg at 11.6.
Refs change earlier Carney j to a trey. Layup Sixers on set play outta timeout. D.Lee miss early J. Just no patience. All instinct.
Thaddeus bricks trey up top as shotclock winds down, Brand misses oreb swipe, Monta with ball on run, hacked by Nocioni to stop break.
Great Monta patented RH side spin into middle into chest of defender. Nocioni miss trey, early o Curry drops to Monta for trey.
Brand power hook good on D.Lee. Monta rises at ft line, passes to non-hesitant Carney who drills confident trey.
Brand another oreb attempt on deep base miss. Curry called on loose ball under Brand. 3rd pf, sits. Thaddeus miss j at Q2 buzzer.
That foul on Curry really didn't need to be called. Brand had the ball tracked down anyways. No respect for Warriors. Such is life.
When you play a sloppy style, don't expect the refs to be concentrating 100% and thinking ahead. They'll be in same non-thinking-man flow.
Warriors 55, Sixers 49, halftime. GSW getting outrebounded 31-22. Monta 13 pts 7 ast (!). Brand 10 pts 9 reb.
Warriors shooting 9-for-13 from beyond the arc. That can turn into bad news quickly. Be careful!
Warriors have shot 45 fgs all told. So that's 13 of 45 shots from trey. 29% of their shots are 3-pointers. Bet they don't even realize it.
Btw Andre Iguodala is not playing tonight.
Warriors have 18 pts off 9 Sixers turnovers. Jrue Holiday 11 pts 8 ast. Carney nice energy with 6 pts 5 reb off the bench. Amundson 2 blk.
Curry back to the high tops. Was wearing mid tops not low tops in first half.
Monta RH driving high backboard scoop trickles out. Brand touch outta bounds. D.Lee nice strong vs Brand but Brand too strong.
Brand strong RH move into Amundson but dishes to Nocioni miss trey. He should keep that. Amundson misses two FTs after inside move.
Meeks miss trey, touchdown to Curry gets swatted by Meeks. Holiday trey. Amundson swatted inside.
Hawes fouls D.Wright nice strong drive. Then gets tech for arguing. Curry ft good. D.Wright 1/2 FTs. Warriors 57, Sixers 52, 9:00 Q3.
Meeks trey good assist Holiday. Careless perimeter turnover by Monta, Nocioni attacks rim and it veers out but Meeks follows good.
Just bad effort by Warriors running back there. No passion. Monta picks up dribble too early on rise layup. Traveling. Brand turnover.
Amundson another attempt inside no good. Meeks strong layup. Warriors miss. Meeks miss open trey. Wide open.
D.Lee fouled at rim by Brand via Curry feed. Then Acie Law subs in for Curry. Why? Brackins and Brand do work on orebs and GSW interior D.
Nocioni travels. Neither team can string together good possessions. Everytime, someone makes an unforced mental error. Timeout.
Warriors 62, Sixers 61, 5:40 Q3. Acie Law trey...no, deep two! Don't know how that rotation went in. Brand beasts orebs good putback.
Nice to see Udoh with an Amare-like FT elbow jumper good, iso'd. D.Lee good open j. Meeks penetrates mid floater and-1. Monta soft reaction.
Acie Law nice drive and dish but Udoh displays stone hands. Outta bounds turnover. Thaddeus reaches GSW soft interior power move good.
D.Wright trey to cover up GSW softness. Later, Udoh nice long reach oreb, Monta then hits open trey on eventual swing pass. Collins timeout.
Warriors now 11/16 treys, 23 assists on 29 made fgs. Holiday says bye bye to Law. Swish. Monta drive RH, fouled by Thaddeus. First FTs.
Monta makes both. Warriors 76, Sixers 70, 1:30 Q3. Monta: 20 pts 9 ast. Nocioni stolen by Monta. Udoh miss elbow but great form.
Acie Law steal and nifty L to R behind back cross at sideline midcourt, slow approach to fastbreak gets pinned. Too bad.
Holiday may have injured his hand. Timeout. Warriors still 76-70 up on Sixers, 27.3 Q3. TV broadcast talks abt tough GSW East swing coming.
Holiday apparently okay after that dribble drive foul. Evan Turner subs in. Monta RH drive, shot altered by Hawes. Meeks miss halfct buzzer.
Curry in for Monta. With nothing inside, D.Lee takes an elbow j that ends up a brick. Hawes miss swooping hook. D.Lee j good this time.
Curry bad underhand turnover to Acie Law. What was Law gonna do with it? Brand elbow j good. 16 and 15. Assist Holiday again.
Brand falls for D.Wright's stop n fake. Even Fitz says that's a terrible decision by Brand. D.Wright's favorite move. 2 FTs good.
Meeks draws D.Lee foul on strong LH baseline dribble. I like this kid. Evan Turner this time falls for D.Wright's upfake.
Curry nice D anticipating where Turner was going on set play. Evan makes a tough j as shotclock winds down. Vlad Rad trey, then steal.
Warriors 85, Sixers 75, 8:10 Q4. Timeout. D.Wright 25 pts, D.Lee 11 pts 15 reb, Monta 20 pts 9 ast. Brand 16pts 15reb, Holiday 16pts 11ast.
Monta gets extended rest. Warriors bench 18, Sixers 15. D.Lee 2 FTs good. Nice upfake and LH dribble power by Meeks, foul on Curry.
Holiday mental error, bad pass backcourt violation to Meeks. Vlad Rad passes up trey for swingpass to Acie Law. Ugly shot, Brand reb.
Evan Turner draws jumper touch foul on D.Wright and-one
Curry nice chg speed dish D.Lee good. Meeks good. Curry running RH scoop good. Turner miss j. Curry swish deep two. Timeout Collins.
That was a stepback cross dribble by Curry with nothing else going oncourt. Refs will check if it was a two or trey. Warriors 93, Sixers 80.
Curry shot ruled a trey. Warriors 94, Sixers 80, 5:52 Q4. Monta subs in for Law. More than 7 assists in 4 straight gms. Thaddeus j good.
Curry leads GSW in Q4 scoring. Passes to D.Lee after nice penetrate to elbow, D.Lee taps it back. Curry goes to rim blocked scoop but fouled
Would have liked to see Curry not be so passive on that elbow drive that he passed up open shot to D.Lee. Take over, kid!
Holiday scores. D.Lee j good via Vlad Rad oreb. Hawes draws foul. Hawes 1/2 FTs. Sixers down 13. Hawes blocks cut/layup by D.Lee.
Evan Turner oreb on Thaddeus miss trey but Vlad Rad pokes it out. Curry trey via Monta drive on Sixers zone. Holiday attacks, fouled.
Timeout. Brand on bench. Warriors 101, Sixers 87, 2:59 Q4. Steph Curry now up to 17 pts 5 reb 7 ast. Brand 16&16 neutralized by D.Lee 17&15.
D.Wright trey off Curry dribble, Evan Turner not paying attention, looking at Curry. Turner has been a major disappointment tonite.
Dorell Wright 9 for his last 11 treys over past 3 games. Meeks draws contact, makes 2 FTs. D.Lee L elbow j good. Brackins R baseline j good.
Vlad Rad pokes an oreb from Speights. Curry trey miss too early in shotclock but D.Lee taps out. D.Lee layup RH good. Holiday strong layup.
D.Lee dribble drive turnover in meaningless garbage time. Warriors will have 18 of 22 games at home after upcoming East Coast trip.
Monta 2 FTs in garbage time. Slight chants of MVP from Oracle crowd? Monta will have good numbers for All-Star purposes from this one.
Buzzer sounds. On way to tunnel, dude gives Monta LH a mid-five but it was really attempt to acquire wristband. Band falls away to ground.
Warriors 31 assists on 39 makes. Sixers had won 9 of 14 incl last nite at DEN. D.Wright 28 pts 7/8 treys 6 reb, D.Lee 21&16, Monta 22p 12a.
First time Warriors have won 3 straight since April '09. Reggie Williams 0/2 fg in limited minutes but D.Wright was so huge.
For Sixers, Brand 16&16, Holiday 23 pts 11 ast, Meeks 19 pts but 2/9 treys, Thaddeus 15pts 8reb, Hawes 12reb but 4/10 fg, Turner 5pts 8reb.
The back to back by Sixers may explain the two fouls on well-known Dorell Wright upfakes That were probably borrowed from D-Wade.
Keith Smart still not happy with point of attack. Also bigs were showing too low.
After the Xmas break, Smart knew minds would not necessarily have bodies follow. Why they came out flat. Force fed conditioning on Curry.
Smart: Warriors focused on shooting and free throws this morning knowing that 5on5 could be a little discombobulated.
Monta nursing a little bit of injury, helped focus on teammates, showing more trust.
Smart: "That's the first thing I'm worried about. Its the A-T-L. We're gonna practice nite before." Reference to ATL party town?
Smart: Need ppl to help Dorell get open looks instead of him trying to create.
Smart: IMHO, Jeremy Lin can't get quality mins to see how he is as a pro. I've been down there. Lloyd Pierce be in contact w him constantly.
Smart: Jeremy Lin needs to apply what he's learning and he can get 25-30 mins down there but not here with our roster of guards.
LOL 32% of Comcast Warriors fans think the GSW will win 0 games on upcoming East Coast trip.
No help D by Sixers on that nice spin drive by Monta into Brand's chest.
In case I forgot to mention, Warriors were 15/23 on treys tonite.