Perhaps it’s a tale of self interest. The Warriors’ starters, with pedigrees and/or salaries that provide security, know that if they finish out of the bottom seven they’ll lose their first round draft pick.
Meanwhile, Golden State’s reserves are only worried about earning minutes and keeping roster spots, and a first-round pick will push everyone down a spot next season.
Overly simplistic? Probably. Some would also call “simplistic” the idea that since the Warriors’ bench unit (Brandon Rush, Nate Robinson, Ekpe Udoh, Klay Thompson and Dominic McGuire) has by far the highest +/- ratio of any 5-man unit the team utilizes, they should play more minutes than the starters … especially at the ends of games.
That’s how it played out tonight, though. The Warriors’ supposed “big three” provided no help in the “motor” category Mark Jackson harped on for after the loss on Friday to Oklahoma City, and the bench came in and saved the day with aggressive defense and disciplined offense.
Rush was on fire, as he’s been all season (32-for-54 this season from 3-point range, an astonishing 59.3%). It’s almost unfathomable that the Warriors were able to add Rush for Lou Amundson and nothing else. Here’s what he said after the game about why he’s shooting so well lately (he’s made 14 of his last 17 3-pt attempts), among other things.
Rush was great, but the key to this game was all five reserves coming in and dominating the fourth quarter, saving a listless Warriors team. It would’ve been interesting to see this “no excuses” basketball team explain away a home loss to the Kings after three days off.
Sacramento owned this contest from the start. DeMarcus Cousins looked like Shaq, and Tyreke Evans turned the clock back to the best portions of his rookie season. But in the end, the Warriors’ bench snatched it away. They forced the Kings into bad possession after bad possession and, while it led to Udoh fouling out, the soft interior defense and gentle fouls that have been the hallmark of Golden State squads for so long vanished. The starters didn’t care. The bench did. Sounds simplistic, but Jackson kept it simple in the fourth quarter (and his starters on the bench), and it paid off.
“I went from negative to positive and it’s all…”
That “Juicy” lyric from Biggie refers to the following segment, where we focus on the good and bad about the Warriors’ 93-90 win over the Kings.
Good: Andris Biedrins started the game with 5 quick points, including a made free throw (first of the season!) to complete a 3-point play. He also blocked 3 shots.
Bad: The offense disappeared over the last 20 of the 25 minutes he played; 3 rebounds over that stretch is pretty weak as well.
Good: Dorell Wright seems to have found his stroke after a slow start to the year offensively.
Bad: What happened to Wright’s defense? That’s at least one of the reasons why he didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter (then again, one could say that about all the starters on Tuesday night).
Good: Udoh’s defense on Cousins and Jason Thompson marked a huge improvement over Udoh’s performance against OKC. Udoh’s paint protection forced the Kings to settle for repeated long jumpers late in the shot clock in the fourth quarter before he fouled out.
Bad: As good as Udoh’s hands and footwork are on defense, that’s how bad his footwork is on offense. Whenever they pass him the ball in the low block he looks like an extremely rigid person trying to remember what he just learned during his first ever dance lesson. As I wrote on Twitter during the game, “Ekpe Udoh takes longer to make a post move than Ralph Barbieri does to ask a question.”
Good: The battle between diminutive guards from the University of Washington (mini Huskies?) was perhaps the most entertaining subplot of this game. Jonathan Santiago of Cowbell Kingdom called it.
Bad: It’s not hindsight, because I said this on the night of the draft: the Warriors should’ve drafted Isaiah Thomas, who the Kings took with the last pick in the second round. Then again, if they drafted Thomas they probably wouldn’t have signed Nate Robinson.
Good: If the Warriors lost at home to a fairly wretched Kings team led by the Warriors’ head coach from last year, people were going to start whispering about Mark Jackson becoming the next Mike Singletary.
Bad: The Warriors almost lost at home to a fairly wretched Kings team, and each win puts them closer to losing that potential lottery pick the starters seem like they’re hoping to gain as a teammate in 2012-13.
Good: Jimmer-mania never came to pass on Tuesday night. Nothing bad about that, since after experiencing Tebow-mania for the past three months I don’t know if I could take it.