Some wondered why the Warriors gave $7 million to Kwame Brown shortly before this season started. Now they know why, because we’re seeing a world where the Golden State Warriors don’t have an NBA center, and it’s not pretty.
Who’s the closest they have? Tonight it was Jeremy Tyler, who took advantage of Andris Biedrins’ relative nonexistence and a terrible game from Ekpe Udoh. Tyler played 15 minutes, including several at the end of the Warriors’ 120-109 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“He made mistakes but he battled,” Mark Jackson said of Tyler. “He gave energy and effort.”
Effort was in short supply on the Warriors’ side, an absolute crime — especially at home against the best team in the Western Conference this season. The Thunder were sloppy on Friday night, with Kevin Durant flying through the air and playing carelessly with the ball as if he were back on the blacktops at Rucker Park, where he played several games during the lockout. But Oklahoma City easily turned it on near the end with a flurry of offensive rebounds and scoring, with 35 points in the final quarter.
“Their big guys played with a different motor. I’m going to find guys that’s going to play with a motor. I will live with mistakes but I need guys to play with energy, effort, passion,” Jackson said. “We got to learn to play like (the Thunder).”
Tyler’s a rookie, and he’s raw. But he was committing hard fouls, setting hard screens and even scored 6 points. Udoh scored 3 points and was nowhere near as active as he was a couple nights ago against Portland, and Biedrins…
“Read the entire stat sheet, along the line, and it’ll tell you what factored into it,” Jackson said when asked about Biedrins’ lack of playing time. Biedrins only played in the beginning of each half, ending up with 1 rebound, 1 foul and 1 steal in 9 minutes (no shot attempts for the third straight game).
“I need my big guys to play. I need my big guys to rebound, defend and be a force in there. They dominated us.”
Jackson’s postgame press conference (where a coach who’s been extremely positive all year looks as upset as we’ve seen him):
— Dorell Wright had his best game of the year, scoring 23 points and making 6-of-9 from behind the arc. He even led the team with 9 rebounds, but that probably spoke more to the Warriors’ lack of effort in that category than anything else.
— Klay Thompson’s stroke was another positive tonight. He scored 14 on 6-of-8 shooting, with the Warriors running him off several weakside screens, Reggie Miller style.
— Nate Robinson banked a half-courter at the end of the first quarter and stared down the Oklahoma City bench for a good 10 seconds.
— Watching Kevin Durant in person for the first time: the opposite of disappointing. He was flying through the air and landing awkwardly every few minutes, getting up every time as if nothing happened. Much more athletic in person than what I’d gathered from watching him on TV all these years. Shocking revelation … he can shoot, too.
— At one point Monta Ellis (who along with Stephen Curry had a bad shooting night) tried to motivate his team during a fourth quarter timeout. Jackson stood silently in the huddle as Ellis was demonstrative, yelling at his team in hopes that they’d keep from letting the game slip away. It didn’t work.
Monta’s postgame comments from the Warriors’ locker room: