Mark Jackson often says the Golden State Warriors are a “no excuses” basketball team, but there were no excuses for how they played on Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. “110-92” in lights was final proof of the drubbing, in a game that was about as exciting as the score would indicate. Besides four vicious dunks by Rudy Gay, who scored 26 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and made the Warriors’ wingmen look terrible, there wasn’t a lot to remember about what happened on the floor.
Here’s what I will remember.
1. Sometime in the third quarter, I heard a loud CRASH. It came from directly behind the press table, which sits about 100 feet behind the visitor’s bench between where the lower bowl ends and the luxury suites begin. It sounded like someone threw something at us from the upper bowl, but it was actually some bro (yes, that word was used intentionally) in the suite behind us who dropped a full cup of beer.
The beer splashed everywhere, as 16 oz of liquid dropped from 8 feet off the ground usually will. While I was hit by a drop or two, Ethan Sherwood Strauss took most of the damage. His clothes, hair and computer, all left smelling like Bud Light. He wasn’t soaked by any means, but he seemed rather worried about what people in the press conference and/or locker room might think about his pregame activities. I broke the real (translation: totally fake) story:
2. This next one isn’t a joke … with Golden State down 21 points and 20 seconds remaining in the game, multiple “let’s go Warriors” chants started around Oracle Arena. The chants didn’t sound didn’t sound like they were yelled ironically, either.
Perhaps a few people realized they’d come to a Warriors game and hadn’t yelled their favorite chant once. There weren’t many opportunities, save for the Warriors’ run in the middle of the first half to take the lead after the Grizzlies started the game on a 21-4 run. Or, maybe there was something else in the air…
And there you have it.
Postgame interview: Stephen Curry
Curry had a good game shooting the ball, going 7-for-11 and scoring 16 points in 24 minutes, I asked Curry if he likes coming off the bench and if he’ll start on Saturday.
Postgame interview: David Lee
“I’ll take responsibility” for the loss, said Lee. He also said “no excuse” two different times. Lee was the most somber of all the Warriors I saw in the locker room on Wednesday night (although Monta Ellis didn’t look too pleased, according to MTII). Nobody seemed all that upset. The Warriors had the look of a team looking forward to the end of this abbreviated, condensed season, both during the game and after.
Postgame press conference: Mark Jackson
Jackson made several mentions of how his team didn’t compete. He used the word “compete” twice, and said “energy” and “effort” three times each. Here’s a montage I threw together of Jackson’s comments about the Warriors’ passionless performance, capped by a question I asked: “You talked about effort. Do you feel like sometimes when the team isn’t hitting shots the effort kind of goes with that?”
Jackson seemed like he’s had enough of this team, and it seems clear that he’s had enough of Andris Biedrins (which makes him one of the last people watching the team to come to the same conclusion).
“The problem with Dre in a game like this is they don’t play him, they don’t defend him,” Jackson said. “Marc Gasol roams around, it makes it tough. Especially when we’re trying to climb back into the game. We needed to score.”
Then there was Dorell Wright, who’s still in the starting lineup and put up a Biedrins-like stat line: 10 minutes, 0 points, 0-1 FG, 1 assist, 1 turnover. Jackson was asked if his patience is running thin with Wright. Jackson paused, then talked instead about the loss being a group effort. With Wright averaging 5.2 ppg on 25% shooting in six games since the All-Star Break, Jackson has to be losing faith that Wright’s 2011-12 regression will see a reversal.
The Warriors are suffering their own team-wide regression. They’re 2-4 since the All-Star break, and three of those losses were blowouts. That was the Warriors’ silver lining during the season’s first half: they were in most of their games, but weren’t converting enough of those close contests into wins. Now, as the schedule gets more strenuous and playoff-bound teams play with a sense of direction and focus the Warriors just don’t possess right now, they’re getting outplayed on a regular basis.
The Grizzlies had no respect for the Warriors all night.
X’s and O’s aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when judging Jackson’s first season, so Warriors’ lack of motivation serves Jackson with a rude wake-up call. The Warriors culture of being almost content with mediocrity runs deeper than any front office person, coach or player, and it’s going to take all Jackson has to keep his team from slipping into the abyss like so many others.