With the Denver Nougats playing sweeter than the sweetest confection in the second half of first game of the doubleheader against the Dirk-less Mavs, the Warriors were dangerously close to falling to the 9th spot in the Wild Wild West. Things didn't look so pretty after the first quarter at the Roaracle with the Warriors down by 8 to a Greg Oden and Brandon Roy-less Blazers squad, but then Nellie and the gang decided it was time to take care of bidness.
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"Don't look at me. I'm just taking care of bidness!"
We get down to bidness after the jump!
The Warriors did a lot of good things tonight. They took care of bidness like a hungry playoff team.
2 + 3 = W! After being doing by 8 at the end of the first, Nellie must've said something "interesting" to his crew. The Dubs buckled down and outscored the Blazers 69-42 in the second and third quarters. Very impressive.
Przybilla who? The 7-1 Warrior Killer went scoreless after giving the Warriors some major problems in the previous 3 games. It looked like he was going to dominate the glass with his 6 rodmans in the 1st quarter, but Coach Nate McMillan didn't stick with him. Thank you Mr. Sonic!
Boom Dizzle Chillin. Baron came into tonight's game battling the flu. With the upcoming weekend of critical back to back games against the Nuggets and Mavericks, the worst thing that could have possibly happened was BD playing big minutes and the Warriors losing. Thankfully the Dubs got a big win and Baron only had to play 27 minutes. Credit Nellie and the bench crew, particularly Kelenna Azubuike and Matt Barnes for making this happen.
Winning Without Biedrins. Andris Biedrins hasn't stepped up his game all that much this season compared to last year (although his dribbling skills are vastly improved), but he's been consistently good on the glass and an extremely reliable catch and dunk option for the Warriors on screen and rolls. Unfortunately he's in a pretty major slump right now especially in terms of fouling. As of late Biedrins has been dropping interior passes a la Erik Dampier that he usually grabs and finishes with ease, isn't making as big of an impact on the glass, has poor and somewhat lazy defensive positioning, and just looks Charmin soft out there on both sides of the ball. We can harp on how he just needs to get hard like Onyx, but let's not dismiss how this team has stepped up during his absence and throughout his recent struggles. The Warriors have gone 11-6 since their leading rebounder and shot blocker and the only center on this roster Nellie thinks is good enough to play had to sit out some games with that appendectomy. This is a team game and it's good to see the team stepping up during his absence and struggles. I'm sure he'll pick up the slack for his teammates later on.
Croshere can throw it down SCARY HOT! Tell me you saw Austin go up for that baseline turnaround reverse slam. It was up there with the Martell Webster jam- maybe even nastier. If only Croshere didn't do that awkward leg kick and extension, it would've been on SportsCenter. Just SCARY HOT!
- Kosta COAST! This man just had the most stunning 1:28 you could ask for. Do you realize he was on pace to grab a whopping 32 rebounds tonight? Seriously, this might go down as the worst usage of the midlevel exception of all time. It makes Isiah's Jerome James signing look brilliant- and that's very, very, very hard to do.
More of that famous Zero Threat Position!
The Warriors won this game fairly easily, but that doesn't mean the Blazers didn't do a lot of nice things tonight.
Once a Warrior Killer always a Warrior Killer. Steve Blake is good for 8.4 ppg, but of course tonight he went off for 22 points. Was it the poor rotations on the Blazers perimeter shooters or just Monta Ellis' Steve Nash-like defense? I'll leave that question to you folks in the comments as I enjoy this big win. Whatever it was, Blake has cemented his status as a bonafide Warrior killer. For the season he put up 15.5 ppg against the Dubs.
LaMarcus Aldridge in the 1st. Early on it looked like Aldridge was going to go off for 40 points. He doesn't have the biggest frame, but he looked like Shaq standing next to Warriors young big men Andris Biedrins and Brandan Wright. Aldridge looked like Tim Duncan out there with his smooth short and mid range jumpers in the 1st too. Thankfully he came back down the earth after that scoring outburst. Later on in the game there was one time where Biedrins guarded him on-on-one. Biedrins is a poor man defender, but he played excellent D on Aldridge on this set, using his reach to seemingly really bother Aldridge. But L.A. still scored on a nice, sweet little jumper. Aldridge seems like a perfect complimentary forward to Greg Oden.
Von Wafer has a cool name. Sorry had to get that in.
- Martell- Tell Me How You Do It.
That's Austin Croshere SCARY.
Martell and the Blazers will be NICE in 2009 and beyond. Next year barring injuries there will be 10 good teams battling for 8 spots in the West. As Beyonce would say the Warriors need a serious upgrade of this roster this offseason if they're going to hang. Just simply retaining and extending their current roster might not cut it.
Nellie Knows What's Wright
Nellie's got this very flawed squad overachieving big time. Find me one person who thought this team would be 17 games over .500 at end of March during that painful 0-6 opening. Find me another coach that could take this miscast and oddly assembled roster that no one else wanted this far. Look up and down the Western Conference and talent-wise this team isn't really that far ahead of clubs like the Kings and Blazers, yet they'll be in the thick of things till the last day of the season. Health has been a big factor no doubt, but realize that Nellie has weathered the storm of Monta's early struggles, the Stephen Jackson suspension, Baron Davis' offnights here and there, overall poor seasons from Mickael Pietrus and Matt Barnes, Andris Biedrins' appendectomy and poor recent play, Kelenna Azubuike's poor defense, lack of contribution from Marco Belinelli, Patrick O'Bryant, and Kosta Perovic, and the loss of Jason Richardson.
It's sad Nellie has so many critics this season in spite of the marvelous coaching job he's done. Instead of giving him props, people consistently and rather annoyingly harp on Nellie for not giving more playing time to rookie Brandan Wright. Critics and doubters whine for him to play Wright more, but unless they're at practice it's pretty ignorant and arrogant to think they know what's best for this team more so than our current hall of fame coach. If Nellie doesn't think Brandan Wright can play big, meaningful minutes right now, chances are he probably can't.
Nellie knows what he's doing. This isn't your Mike Montgomery Warriors here.
Quit bashing the legend.
For all the clamoring critics have done for Nellie to play Wright more, you hope they'd take note of games like this and others this season in which he's struggled in limited playing time. Whether it was Martell Webster running down the lane and jamming it home or Channing Frye stuffing him, Wright looked like a boy among men tonight.
We're in the middle of a thrilling, nerve-wrecking playoff run. It's not the time to develop players for the future. It's time to win. Thank god Nellie knows this and doesn't give in to all the critics.
Let me be clear though. I think Wright's a nice prospect and can help the Warriors in some select spot situations as Nellie's been trying to do lately. I seriously doubt he'll ever be an All-Star and I'm not even sure he'll even be an average starting power forward in this league given his slender frame and build, but I do think he'll be a solid player with an amazing shot blocking ability. I'm not saying he'll be better than Andris Biedrins (he still has a long way to go to reach Biedrins' usual consistency), but he does have a far greater ceiling with his smooth hooks, insane reach and timing, and more developed jump shot. But the time to experiment, develop him, and give him playing time is not now. If Nellie sees some matchup or situation he likes for Wright this season during the final stretch, then he'll undoubtedly play him. Complaining that Nellie doesn't play Wright more than he does right now, is pretty odd though,
Also, the common ideology that Nellie hates rookies is a joke. I count two Rookie of the Years under Nellie and guess what? They were both Golden State Warriors: 1) Mitch Richmond (1989) and 2) Chris Webber (1994). Don't forget that Tim Hardaway did big thangs for Nellie as a rookie in the 1989-1990 season as well putting up 14.7 ppg, 8.7 apg, and 2.09 stls. Nellie runs a merticocracy. He doesn't care if you're a 1st year or 7th year player. Nellie plays whoever can help him win.
Again, it shocks me that so many fans and the media at large are giving the Warriors a free pass for their front office blunders dating back to draft day 2007. They moved a guy for pennies on the dollar after an odd injury plagued season for an extremely raw rookie that the real mastermind of the operation doesn't even want to play. Yes, the same guy who's putting up 25.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.9 steals, and 0.7 swats in the month of March through 13 games. Think a tired team team starving for depth could use that right now or at least benefit from not giving him away on the cheap at a "CLEARANCE! Everything must go price!"? It's still way too early to say, but I've been having nightmares of Mitch Richmond for Billy Owens Part II the past few nights.
Making matters worse, the Warriors front office and ownership was either too cheap or too clueless to wisely use the 10 million dollar exception at this past trading deadline. It could have been a brilliant trade if they used the trade exception for a guy like Drew Gooden, Ron Artest, or Kurt Thomas. If the Warriors miss the playoffs this season and suffer from a bad 1st round loss in the playoffs, don't blame the coach or the players. They gave it their all and overachieved. The front office and ownership failed them, the fans, and thousands of first time season ticket holders this year.
Open Roster Spot
With Chris Webber retiring two days ago, the Warriors have open roster spot. They obviously don't want any distractions, but two guys I might take a chance on are GSoM friend Rod Benson (see our recent Q&A) and big time dunker Gerald Green. I doubt Nellie would play either of them right now, but it might be worth a shot for next year and beyond just to see what they can do in practice now. Rod brings the rebounds and Green looks like the type of player who Nellie can work some magic with.
Stack Jack put up a nice statline tonight leading the Warriors with 24 points and adding 5 boards and 2 dimes, but that's somewhat expected. I would like to award Kelenna Azubuike with the honors for bringing the unexpected. He pitched in 14 points, 5 boards, and a nice swat. But even more impressive than the numbers is the vastly improved defense he's been showcasing as of late. Kaz has been struggling big time on that end all year long. If he steps up his D and ups his instincts on that side of the ball like he has the past few games, this becomes a much deeper Warriors ballclub.
Recaps, Recaps, Recaps of the Thursday Night Double Header:
- Game 73 Recap: Blazers 95, Warriors 111 [Blazers Edge]
- Combustible (Warriors 111, Blazers 95) [Fast Break]
- Game 72 Recap: Nuggets 118, Mavericks 105 [Pickaxe and Roll]
Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images and Ben Margot (AP)