Well, so much for my infatuation with the Utah Jazz franchise. With the Jazz backcourt depleted, without the services of Raja Bell, Devin Harris, and Earl Watson, the Warriors took advantage and outscored the Jazz 71-55 in the 2nd half. It was the Dubs' first blowout win since last April 2011, when there were two against the Portland Trail Blazers (thanks to our very own Nate Parham for the find).
Here's another Media Credential Experience for you to digest...
If you click on the Links link above, you can see the Warriors-sided recaps. I browsed around and didn't see a whole lot of Jazz coverage especially from the blogging community, so in an effort to keep things neutral and keep our perspective of how the league perceives the Warriors, let's take note. The Jazz were playing their third game in four nights, the day after a heart-breaking loss in Salt Lake to the Clippers courtesy of Chris Paul's will, and their bigs were horrendous. So when you have offensive talent like Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, you get an 18-point blowout.
Let's take a slightly different slant and recap my experiences (a summary of my tweets) last night...
I missed the first part of the Mark Jackson pregame interview (Bay Area traffic!), but anytime you have the Warriors beatwriters in the room, things can get pretty fun. Ethan Sherwood Strauss asked him something about the "indictment" of Monta and Steph (honestly, I can't remember the content of it, sorry Ethan!) and Jackson eventually responded that he could handle vocabulary like "indictment". Later, my SAT verbal genius peer described a Steph Curry move as "nutmegging". Seriously, to me, on Twitter Ethan is like Plato with his tweets. No one comes close and they're always intellectually vibrant. Follow him at @SherwoodStrauss.
I then went to the Warriors locker room and nothing was really happening there. So I made the circuitous route to the Jazz locker room. Coach Tyrone Corbin fielded some questions and Rusty Simmons got him to comment on Mark Jackson (click on the Links and look for his post-game article in the SF Chronicle).
I also saw the Turkish reporters engaged in a lively TV interview with Enes Kanter.
I wanted mostly to talk to Paul Millsap (and his purported full-size gym in his Utah home), given his agent Ara Vartanian is a Bay Area native and former Warriors intern-turned NBA agent -- check out the awesome story (and the ridiculous GQ photo haha!). But Millsap wasn't around so I had to think of something quick to ask the players that were around.
Gordon Hayward was just sitting around, so I told him I caught the game last night where C.J. Miles took the half-court heave after the inbounds with 3.5 seconds left. I said it reminded me potentially of Butler-Duke and he said he thought the same thing and would've been ready had the ball came into him instead of Miles.
In between tweets, I asked Alec Burks if he had any thoughts about potentially going head-to-head against Klay Thompson, since Klay was picked ahead of him and he was discussed as a possible Warrior pick (ironically, Ethan was an advocate, if I remember correctly).
Kanter was sitting around so I chatted him up about pro basketball in Turkey. He said that the corporations there have a lot of money and spend it well, but mostly the cash cow is soccer. They do a good job of supporting basketball development. Kanter mentioned an up-and-coming 6'9" kid whose name I couldn't possibly pronounce nor remember, who will probably enter the 2012 NBA Draft.
Andris Beidrins came out and hustled and was a factor, although his offensive moves still left a lot to be desired. AB had eight rebounds after the first quarter, a quarter which saw all five Warriors starters play the entire twelve minutes. Our own Evan Zamir tweeted that it'd be the easiest plus-minus calculation ever: all at +3 with the Warriors up 25-22.
The Jazz third-string point guard, Jamal Tinsley, came out and immediately made what seemed like a chemistry bad pass, but he shook that off and played very effectively, as his numbers show.
I noticed that Gordon Hayward was funneling Monta towards baseline help, but immediately twice he didn't get the help and was a bit up in arms with teammates about it. Little did he or his teammates or coach know, this would become a big theme in the 2nd half.
Despite Hayward being ranked very low in defending points per possession, I thought he displayed some good fundamentals in his one-on-one coverage of Monta. He spread his body wide when Monta posted up, he could always challenge the jumpshot with his reach, but his lateral movement isn't quite there yet. And obviously he is thinking out there on the court, in reference to the funneling strategy.
Hayward also had a tremendous chasedown block of a Monta fastbreak layup, but during this quarter, you could see that the old Monta was re-emerging and that the two-game slump for Monta would come to an end on this night.
Early in the 2nd quarter, it was a relief to see Steph finally hit a layup, a floater. A lot of those had been rimming out the past few games, especially in crunch time. He would eventually get an up-and-under swish from the free throw line before the 1st half buzzer, to put the Warriors up 48-46. Marcus Thompson observed that Steph was moving the ball and getting other people involved rather than jacking up treys.
It looked like a typical grind-em "ugly" approach a la Mark Jackson. Let's give some credit to that. It does keep the Warriors in ball games. It's quite a stark contrast to Nellie ball, isn't it?
Meanwhile, Jazz fans on Twitter were bemoaning the performance of their front line. They were right. Al Jefferson and Millsap, who had done some beasting against the likes of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan the night before, weren't producing much.
At halftime I took a look at some the papers Warriors PR gave out pregame. One thing that was surprising: Kyle Lowry having more All-Star votes than Monta. That's kind of weird for a market as tech-savvy as we are. You'd think we'd be rocking the e-vote.
Monta came out and immediately beat Hayward on a overplay, backdooring him. This would be a bad omen for the Jazz. Maybe it was fatigue, but not only was Hayward caught napping, but it was apparent that his inside help was not going to be that responsive tonight.
For example, Monta would do the usual hard-dribble right, but the Jazz were helpless against his first step, as well as the shifting over by the big man when the guard got beat. I remarked that Jefferson seemed to have slow reaction time. When the Warriors were humming, it seemed like the Jazz were statues out there.
At the end of the 3rd quarter, Monta actually made a shot right before the buzzer. The difference this time? It was Steph Curry with a behind-the-back pass at the top, instead of Monta trying to create. The Warriors were now up by 11.
Perhaps Corbin was trying to shake things up a bit, but he had the Jazz 2nd unit in against the 1st string of the Warriors, and Corbin paid the price. With 8:25 to go, the Warriors were up 12. Could they sustain the momentum?
Yes, they could. And Monta put a stamp on it with a huge wrap-around jump stop layup, a spectacularly athletic play as we've seen before, from the right side that put the Warriors up 19 with 4:31 remaining. Game over.
Mark Jackson said that when the team hit 6-12, he put on the board that they would be 8-12. Twitter responded sarcastically, saying that those were some "lofty goals", but nevertheless for this young team, it was a gauntlet achieved.
In the locker room, Adam Lauridsen (with his now-famous interview with Joe Lacob today, see our homepage) was introduced to David Lee as "from the San Jose Mercury, but not necessarily Tim Kawakami", which drew laughter. Lee remarked how he was still cool with Kawakami even after "about 56 straight negative tweets".
Big props to Warriors sales rep Dana Knops. We hurriedly setup a meeting prior to the game to discuss the Warriros in general, GSOM Night 11 and the upcoming 12, and Dream League's Oracle Experience (here's last year's, email me if you're interested btw). He then gave me a box of leftover GSOM11 t-shirts.
So in the press room, I spread the love and gave away some t-shirts especially to the acclaimed Big Three beatwriters. They were pretty much all stuck in the media room getting their pieces posted on the Internet.
Matt Steinmetz tweeted about it, as you can see in the Links page. Thompson wasn't around, so I left his with Steiny. I then passed Thompson in the parking lot and told him about it, but he just smirked and said Steiny would hide and keep his. Incidentally, if you've been in the Warriors pressbox and I missed you, DM me at @poormanscommish on Twitter (since I'm probably already following you -- my handle is at the bottom of this post) and I'll get you a t-shirt as well. If you're a reader not a writer, just come to GSOM12!
As I got in my car, I saw that I had about 137 unread tweets and counting (and I follow over 1,000 quality NBA/hoops tweeters). So I spent the next hour catching up on the tweets. Then I realized that while the beatwriters were busy beating deadlines, this blogger was busy tweeting with the NBA Twitter community. Rohan Cryuff of SB Nation's New Orleans Hornets blog AtTheHive (@Rohan_Cruyff) tweeted out props and confirmed that the Warriors giving the backstage access you just read about above was an experience that, powered by Twitter and blogging, many other fans could experience along with.
WARRIORS WONDER GOES TO...