Finding a positive from a loss is difficult. Though I’ve been told that you learn more from losses than you do from wins, but with a four game winning streak on the line and a game closer to being .500, it is easy to start pointing fingers. A positive for the Warriors is the fact that they know they have ability and capability to play with anyone in the league. After defeating several high notch teams like Miami, New York, Portland and Chicago, you know these guys can play with anybody any night. It’s just a matter of finishing games and getting more than 100% out of all your guys on a given night.
Portland had walked into the Oracle with a losing record. Here they have lost 11 out of 12 before last night and were without all star LaMarcus Aldridge. They too were having difficulties closing out games. This was a good game to steal one from Portland, have a four game winning streak and get a game closer to .500. Only that didn’t happen.
And it could have. David Lee had a monstrous 41 minutes. Add another double double to his resume as he poured in 29 points and collected 11 boards. He was everywhere.
Stephen Curry was also quiet as he only chipped in with eight points and eight assists. Dorell Wright shot for 12 points and grabbed five boards. Let’s not even talk about Andris Beidrins.
But the underlying story was the fact that Nate Robinson came to play. And he rewarded his coach with pretty good numbers. Playing better than Monta Ellis, who had some type of illness and didn’t see the floor in the fourth, Robinson played 21 minutes, six less than Ellis and scored 21 points. He also had four turnovers, including one that was very key in the latter stages of the game. Ellis, meanwhile, had a weak night, scoring 10 points, dishing out five assists and grabbing three rebounds.
Robinson was also the guy that Jamal Crawford shot a three over with about a minute left, when the Warriors were up by two. In my opinion, I would have crowded Crawford, so that he couldn’t score a three to put the Trailblazers up by one and if he drove, either foul him hard to earn those points or make him kick it out to a player who isn’t comfortable shooting a three. Or even he scored the game is tied, so no matter what you score, either a free throw or a shot, you’ll be ahead. And that isn’t even factoring the fact that Nate is so much smaller, so Crawford for sure is going to be able to size him up and shoot over him. Making him beat you off the dribble would have been what I would have wanted from Robinson.
Instead, Crawford makes a three and then Robinson gets fouled, which to me was a bail out call as he had picked up his dribble and was double teamed. Robinson makes only one. The Trailblazers come back down the court and the Warriors play great defense before giving up a drive only to foul Crawford with about 43 seconds left to play. Crawford sinks both and the Warriors call a time out. Plenty of time to score. On the next play, Robinson tries a floater down the middle and looks like he shot it wildly from his pocket. It clanks off the back rim and Portland secures the rebound. They call a time out, draw up a play, execute it only to miss the shot and Ekpe Udoh grabs the rebound. With about six seconds left, the Warriors call their final time out and run a high pick and roll with David Lee and Robinson in the middle of the court. Robinson splits the defense and then loses control of the ball. He slaps it towards Brandon Rush, who rushes (no pun intended) a three from the corner. Replays show that even if Rush had made it, it came after the red light and would not have counted.
A very interesting tidbit was the fact that Ellis did not see any time during the fourth. Of course the commentators did mention that partly it was because of Robinson’s play and ESPN wrote that Ellis was feeling rather ill, but when cameras panned to him, he looked fine and seemed annoyed that he wasn’t on the floor in the waning seconds. Is there an underlying feud going on?
After this home game, the Warriors will be playing with four out of their next five games away from Oracle. The first stop is Oklahoma, where the Warriors will look to win a game in the teams’ series. They play on Friday at 5:00pm pst.