Last night was opening night at the theater. Previews of the post-Jackson era Warriors were promising. As the curtain rose and play began, it was clear the Warriors had assigned themselves the junior varsity role, trying to prove they belong.
They were nervous Nellies for sure. From the opening tip, the Ws were paddling like mad just to keep their heads above water, trying to stay in the game as the Lakers made it look easy in a rout of the Warriors in Oakland.
The list of poorly executed fundamentals was long. Yes, the Warriors will do better next time. No, unfortunately, they are not likely to win next time.
All told, it was a night of Truths and Questions:
Truth: The Lakers won by 33 with a sub-par game from Kobe and a below average outside shooting night. Had the Lake Show been on fire, it might have been 30 at halftime, 50 by game’s end.
Truth: The Warriors at their inspired best vs. the Lakers at their sleep walking worst would be competitive, all things considered: that would be talent, coaching, defense, and style of play.
Truth: The Warrior ball movement offense was supposed to thrive without Stephen Jackson. Apparently, it worked well for a full 2½ games but took a leave of absence last night.
Truth: As good as Monte Ellis is (and Warrior Update thinks he is an All-Star talent), he now seems to believe it’s on him to be all, do all. Watch out or before you know it, there’ll be a new Stephen Jax; new name, same game.
Truth: Successful basketball at the highest level is an inside-out game: pass, dribble-penetrate, kick it out or lay it up. This involves floor spacing, ball handling, moving without the ball, passing, knocking down open shots.
Last night, the Ws stopped passing the ball on offense; it appeared as if Stephen Jackson reincarnate was in every Warrior uniform, as every player seemed inclined to jack up covered 3s and early jumpers.
Truth: As good a shooter as Anthony Morrow is (and he may have taken Ray Allen’s mantle spot as owner of the league’s sweetest stroke), he does not make good decisions: when to shoot, pass, drive, dribble.
Can someone find a tutor to raise his basketball IQ? He is in danger of missing the league minimum, a low bar indeed. Yes, Morrow has worked on his game, expanded his abilities, but its not paying dividends.
Maybe his best spot would be as a Peja clone: spot up, knock em down...on a team, of course, with an inside-out game and talent...
Question: What happened to Anthony Randolph?!? He went from the early season league darling to all-pro boob. His hoops IQ is elevating Morrow to Mensa category. Even his fouls look bad.
Yet he has enough nerve to chest bump and trash talk Kobe and Pau, when losing by 25. We know there is something there...
Question: Why was the ball so slippery for the Warriors last night? Ellis, Curry and Watson all lost the ball, dribbling with no pressure. Just bounced out of their hands. Oops, here, you take it. Funny how that didn’t happen to the Lakers...
At times, the Warriors have sufficient talent and game know-how to surprise even the better teams. And from time to time, they will do so this season on their way to 30 wins. But last night was flaw exposure night. All of them. And it was ugly.
Raise your hand if you thought they played a better brand of basketball when nobody, including the Warriors players themselves, believed they could win in Cleveland, Boston, Dallas and San Antonio. Uh-huh, thought so. We did as well.
That reckless abandon leads to better ball movement, better floor spacing and more movement without the ball. And more success.
As always, go Warriors...