I laughed when Eric Gordon got the wide-open trey. Not the sound that emits when watching a Louis C.K. stand-up routine but the kind of terrible cackling that comes with staring into the abyss known as the Warrior defense in the 2000s. Jermaine O'Neal climbed into the time machine to get his offensive game back and the Warriors as a collective brought some old-school defense back, too.
The Pelicans got open shots whenever they wanted. Despite Draymond Green doing what he wanted, with several steals and blocks on that end, it wasn't enough to stifle an Anthony Davis explosion in the latter portion of the final quarter. But that's what happens when you're without a top-five player at their respective positions. The problem will be easily remedied when Andrew Bogut returns tomorrow and when Andre Iguodala eventually makes his way back.
Eric Gordon had the most open shot in his life and missed it by a centimeter.
That's what analytics can't measure, my friends. Difference between Eric Gordon's shot with game on line and not.— Matt Steinmetz (@MSteinmetz957) November 27, 2013
I'm not really sure what that means. Gordon shot that like every other shot in his life. He was on fire the whole game, looked explosive on the surgically repaired knee and repeatedly torched whichever Warrior was unlucky enough to guard him. To my understanding, he missed that shot because he wasn't mentally strong enough to make a "clutch" adjustment in a split second? I guess analytics can't measure a wide-open shot that was halfway down. I'm sure you guys will put on your faux-psychologist hat and battle this one out.
Back to the game, Coach Jackson bought some minutes in the first half with Nemanja Nedovic and Marreese Speights. Speights actually looked like he was trying on the defensive end and it resulted in a couple blocks and rebounds, along with the customary long-two brick. That's all we ask for. Nedovic didn't turn the ball over (*looks at Kent Bazemore*) and it looked like the Santa Cruz D-League game gave him some confidence.
In the second half, Jackson actually played Nedovic alongside Curry while sitting Klay Thompson. It's still stunning to see the difference in the offense with and without Curry on the floor. Curry isn't explosive in the way Russell Westbrook is but his half-penetrations (if that's a thing) really opens up the perimeter, where the rest of the offense can thrive. Comfortability matters. With Iguodala out, there aren't enough slashers and passers out there and iso-ing David Lee all the time compounds that problem.
Jackson again went to a iso-centric offense in the 4th quarter and, guess what, it failed. Lee went at Davis three straight times, resulting in zero points and a turnover. Barnes and Thompson both got long fade-aways and missed. When the Warriors finally ran an actual play, they got Green and Barnes each open corner threes -- with both going down. The Pelicans missed enough open shots to make up for Jason Smith making an inordinate amount in the beginning of the game.
There are small adjustments being made and it's frighteningly obvious that the small, underperforming bench is causing Jackson to tinker with lineups and plays he doesn't want to use. Regardless, the Warriors got away with one here. And we'll take that.
Warrior Wonder: Jermaine O'Neal
I have no idea. Nope, no clue what happened. *insert Germany joke* *insert Phoenix Suns training staff joke*.
Showing off a stunningly great level of body control after several injuries and a viral infection, O'Neal looked downright sprightly against designated banger Jason Smith and high-flyer Anthony Davis. Jackson went to Jermaine repeatedly in the beginning of the season and it didn't make sense. It still doesn't, it never will, but for tonight: it did.
Also, the speech was pretty neat. Lee, Curry, Barnes, and Thompson are as vanilla as it comes in interviews. Bogut and now O'Neal are refreshingly honest and you can almost feel the pain in his voice when describing his old Indiana teams. I saw some beat writers from other teams that covered him saying this isn't anything new for him but it is to us.
The only downside? Let's hope Jackson doesn't really think this Curry-like explosion from O'Neal will become a regular occurrence. There's a little bizarro Jarrett Jack infatuation thing going here.
1. Green shot 2-6, 1-4, 2-4 from the field, distance and free-throw line, respectively. But there was no doubt he was the best defender, and the biggest difference-maker on the floor. Doing the "little things" and "stuff the box-score can't count" is such a cliché phrase that there's a certain eye-rolling that comes with terming the 'scrappy" players of the world. And yet, Green had three assists, blocks and steals. A beast. There's some diminishing returns aspect of giving him more minutes but let's get the "more minutes" portion done first. Even if it comes at the expense of Lee.
2. Lee actually played solid one-on-one defense against Ryan Anderson and Davis. It was the help defense that hurt the team down the stretch. It's not going to change so I'm not gong to harp on it. Hurry back, Bogut.
3. Evan Zamir alluded to Barnes' lack of PNR movement on offense and I said the same thing over the summer. Thompson's gotten much better passing and finishing (except for the three missed layups tonight, THROWBACK!) but Barnes is much more explosive and there's some potential there to unlock.
Harrison Barnes has run 19 total plays on PNR (14 as ball handler, 5 as roll man), 15% of total possessions. @thecity2— Andy Liu (@AndyKHLiu) November 27, 2013
That's according to Synergy Sports.
4. Monty Williams seems like a decent coach. He's no Tyrone Corbin, that's for sure. But waiting until the last five minutes to play the Tyreke Evans, Gordon, Jrue Holiday, Davis, Anderson lineup? That's a hypothetically lethal five on offense and serviceable on defense. Like most teams in the NBA nowadays (Dallas, Portland, Minnesota), that's good enough for a playoff spot. Enough with that Jason Smith thing, Monty. Unleash the brow. And the offense, for that matter.
But thanks for waiting on that one. Warriors win 102-101.