The Golden State Warriors played some horrendous basketball in the latter segment of the second half. Not the kind that makes you laugh, pour another drink, and talk about whether Julius Randle or Andrew Wiggins will fit best on the wings. Not the kind where you have accepted the team is going nowhere and just don't really care what happens as long as it's exciting. Ya know, the kind where Monta Ellis scores 48 in a triple-OT loss. No, it was the kind of horrible play that made you want to gouge your ears out while simultaneously vomiting in the bag of In-n-Out you haven't even touched yet. Because when a potential run-stopping playcall is an all-too-obvious Klay Thompson post-up or Kent Bazemore-Andrew Bogut pick-and-roll? Yeah, we're all screwed.
This isn't to say that Mark Jackson is doing a bad job coaching. He's stuck between hard places, rocks and more hard places. The injuries to Jermaine O'Neal and Andre Iguodala have pushed Nemanja Nedovic, Kent Bazemore and Marreese Speights into more playing time, and they're simply not ready or not good enough. God knows Erik Spoelstra would look like a mediocre coach at best without LeBron James. Even with that in mind, there's something to say about repeatedly going to things that don't work. Thompson post-ups are nice when he's going but not nearly worth a first option in the midst of a team falling apart. And David Lee? How many times does he need to lose the ball on the way up, get blocked, or simply miss a layup before Jackson goes away from it? Again, it's tough to do all this without his top players but there's enough talent to make it work. Hell, they had a double-digit lead when Mo Williams and Wes Matthews were ejected. The result should have been more positive than destructive.
Thompson was good but the Warriors are completely hopeless, helpless and whatever depressingly visual adjective you want to insert here without Bogut in the middle. I've run out of analogies to describe a Bogut-less "defense" but if Jackson is forced to keep playing him with the games so close, the worst is yet to come.
Midway through the third quarter, TV announcer Bob Fitzgerald stated the team was +13 with Bogut on the floor and -20 with him off. That's good, but really bad. There's just no way Jackson can play Bogut 48 minutes a game. And for all the trade talk? The Warriors still have a mid-level exception from the Iguodala trade but what asset can they give up? More first-round picks? And what player would help right now? O'Neal was that guy but he got hurt walking and it certainly won't be the least time.
1. I talked about Thompson posting up earlier so there's not much left to write. The team plays best in transition, running, and letting the offense flow through each and every player, keeping everyone engaged. Often times, there are zero cutters, and no movement, when the ball stops on a Thompson, Barnes, Lee post-up. Hell, I'd endorse a Curry post-up over those three because of his superb vision.
2. Nemanja Nedovic made a three. He looked like a passable point guard in the first half and by the end of the season could become the backup guard with Toney Douglas. Oh yeah, this team also really misses Douglas' defense and *gulp* scoring punch.
3. Thompson eviscerated the Portland defense in the first half and third quarter but also had four turnovers and very little else passing or defending. He's been below-average now on defense in two straight games. Fatigue could be playing a factor as he's easily been the most durable Warrior the past three years. Guys don't just suddenly start losing shooters on the perimeter. Like Bogut, Jackson has no choice running his guys out there minute after minute. There's just no better options.
4. The fight was completely avoidable. It looked like Freeland and Bogut were exchanging a few shoves and words but Mo Williams decided to jump in even though he's twice as small as Bogut (and because in the NBA nothing will actually ever happen on the court so you might as well goon up). From there, more shoves and half-punches were thrown resulting in the ejections of Williams, Matthews and Draymond Green. Job well done by Green. Too bad his teammates didn't pick up the slack.
Oh, and best part about the fight? Jim Barnett screaming "GET CURRY OUT OF THERE! GET CURRY OUT OF THERE!" repeatedly like that was his own son on the court.
5. And lastly, because everyone else is talking about it: the referees were absolutely horrendous. But did it help the Blazers more than the Warriors? Yes, but that's always the case when one team is going directly at the other team's worst defender (Lee) repeatedly. Lee couldn't defend LaMarcus Aldridge and paid the price in whistles. Granted, LMA spends a lot of time running really slowly into the defender's shoulders and flopping to a foul but it's not like he hasn't been doing it his whole career. The Warriors, on the other hand, don't draw fouls because they don't have a back-to-the-basket player or an elite wing slasher to get them there.
The referees were atrocious, calling ticky-tack fouls all game long, and that always favors the more physical, aggressive team. The Blazers were that team tonight.