GameThread (300+ comments)
Blog Buddy: Rufus On Fire
A colleague of mine often focuses on the first four minutes of a game or half that help a team set the tone going forward.
Tonight in Charlotte, the Golden State Warriors seemed to do exactly that with a quick 10-3 lead in the first three minutes in their game against the Bobcats. Then a few minutes after closing the gap, the Bobcats went on a 19-4 run to finish the first quarter and proceeded to put the Warriors in 20-point hole by halftime.
It's safe to say that it was a deflating first quarter in a game that most of us probably expected more from after two relatively strong performances at home.
Let's just be honest: the Warriors did not play good basketball tonight by any stretch of the imagination.
Sure the late run was nice to see after looking like the substance David Lee referred to the team as for the first three quarters. But the outcome makes it hard to put the poorer aspects of the game aside.
The Bobcats came in on a losing streak and came in as one of the worst shooting teams in the league. If the Warriors are going to play "no excuses", defensive basketball, playing short-handed on the road is not an excuse to allow the Bobcats to shoot 50%, especially allowing so many easy baskets as the game got away from them early on.
For the San Francisco 49ers fans among us, whatever bright sports there were in tonight's loss will likely pale in comparison to the Niners playing at the same time as this game and beating the odds to overcome the New Orleans Saints and advance to the NFC Championship game for the first time in forever.
But here's a quick rundown of some things that stood out.
Andris Biedrins active inside. Maybe too "active".
You had to love the energy that Biedrins brought to the game early on.
He had a couple of strong put backs, a nice basket off a Monta Ellis drive, and was active on the boards to collect 8 points and 4 boards in the first 8 minutes of the game.
Yet obviously, Biedrins picking up his third foul with 4:08 left in the first quarter was no small part of why the Warriors' strong start was short-lived. And the third foul itself was particularly unfortunate - Biedrins was simply turning to run up the court in transition when he brushed Kemba Walker, who had just gotten the rebound and did a pretty good job of selling the foul. Although the momentum was already starting to swing when Biedrins went out to do some poor defense around the basket that left them open to Bobcats dunks and other high percentage scoring opportunities right around the basket.
Nevertheless, seeing Biedrins active around the basket and making plays is a welcome sight after the last couple of seasons.
Charles Jenkins logs a career-high 22 minutes
Jenkins did not have a spectacular night, but - setting numbers aside - this was the type of game that helps you to understand why he quickly gained favor from the Warriors' coaching staff over the recently-waived Ish Smith.
He was generally under control (e.g. not over-dribbling) offensively and has a frame that makes him a strong defensive presence. The problem, especially in a game where the team is struggling to make shots, is that he hasn't yet become much of a significant scoring presence.
Monta Ellis carries the burden of playing the role of distributor and scorer
Given the team's offensive struggles overall, Ellis' 6-for-26 performance should be put in context.
It might be easy to look at a game like tonight's and say that Ellis should just shoot less.
But first, if Ellis isn't going to the rim as a distributing and scoring threat, the Warriors offense pretty much comes to a standstill with Stephen Curry injured. And tonight it would've been even harder to imagine this team generating much of any offense without Ellis remaining aggressive.
Second, Bobcats rookie Kemba Walker deserves some credit for Ellis' poor shooting for doing a reasonable job defensively trying to bother Ellis on his shots. Still, Ellis finished with 6 assists to 2 turnovers, which is an efficient performance as a distributor especially when looking at a backcourt that also included Jenkins' 3 assists and 0 turnovers. When taken as a whole - as well as all the times he kicked or dumped to a teammate who simply missed the open shot that Ellis' shot created - Ellis had a better performance than his field goal percentage suggests.
Although it would've been nice for Ellis to be more efficient, it's also hard to blame him for this type of outcome as long as teammates aren't scoring.
With Ellis out in the fourth quarter, the Warriors looked for someone else to score. And the fact is that this game might have been a 20-point or greater loss had it not been for Nate Robinson's effort in the fourth quarter. They needed scoring and he created opportunities for himself and others.
There's no quit in Robinson, there are few players that possess more self-confidence than this guy, and it was a welcome sight tonight.
Lee takes a lot of heat around here for what he doesn't do, but tonight was another night where what he did do in the team's tepid performance actually stood out.
Lee did a good job early of establishing position to get buckets around the basket either off entry passes or tip-ins early and just to see someone turning energy into production - aside from Biedrins who was dealing with foul trouble - was at least a positive.
Of course, his plus/minus (-13) points to him having another less productive game than his final stats (team-high 24 points, game-high 16 rebounds) suggest, but this was such a poor performance for the team that it's hard to just disregard Lee's performance when looking for bright spots.