Urban: No bite in Giants' bark


Urban: No bite in Giants' bark

Aug. 12, 2011


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Mychael Urban

You see it all the time in sports. A team loses a superstar, and the healthy remainders collectively raise their level of play for the short-term, responding to the challenge of the perception that they can't quite get it done without the alpha dog.That's essentially what happened when the Giants lost not one, but two of their alpha dogs.OK, nice guys that they are, it's probably not quite fitting to call Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez "alpha dogs." They're more golden retriever. Sweet disposition, all-around solid in every way. But they were absolutely crucial to the Giants' success, just as the more prototypical alpha dogs -- think Michael Jordan -- were to their respective teams. Posey and Sanchez as Jordan? It's not as crazy as you might think. Don't let the sport or the glitz or the Gatorade commercials fool you.
RECAP: Giants' bats absent, fall to Marlins 2-1
When Jordan would go down with, say, a sprained ankle, the Bulls generally raised their level of play for a short time. They responded to that challenge. But if Jordan missed, say, five or eight or 10 games, eventually the team came back to earth as the reality of the situation set in.Holy crap. He's not coming back anytime soon, is he?That's what you're seeing with the Giants these days.When Posey and then Sanchez went down, the Giants played inspired baseball, insistent on showing the world that they'd be fine without their two most pure hitters. And just when the reality set in, as mentioned above, there came a psychological boost in the form of the Carlos Beltran trade. Beltran was the bridge. The new alpha dog.But as we've all seen, the alpha dog didn't exactly come in barking or biting. And now, in the worst possible development for the team's overall psyche, Beltran's wrist is now barking, and if you aren't thinking disabled list at this point, congrats for being the biggest optimist in the world. It's a mental game now. The Giants are without Posey, Sanchez and Beltran, and there's no more alpha dogs in the kennel.And that's what makes this road trip, which started Friday with an unbelievably uninspiring outing and another loss to a previously struggling club, so crucial.Are the Giants going to lay down like dogs, or will they come out flashing fangs?

Without Green, Iguodala, fourth quarter turns into disaster for Warriors vs Rockets

Without Green, Iguodala, fourth quarter turns into disaster for Warriors vs Rockets

OAKLAND -- The defending champion Warriors started cracking in the hours before tipoff Tuesday night and broke apart when they usually come together.

The fourth quarter was a disaster area and it cost the Warriors, as the Houston Rockets wiped out a 13-point deficit and tagged them with a 122-121 loss before a stunned sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.

So ends, as it should, the spurious notion of a rubber-stamp championship for the Warriors. A strain here and a tweak there and they found themselves on the painful end of the score.

The Warriors learned prior to the game that forward Andre Iguodala, their valuable Sixth Man, would be out nursing a strained back. They were hit with another injury, this one to Draymond Green, who was highly effective, late in the third quarter.

“He was our best player tonight,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He was the guy who was bringing the energy and the life.”

Green’s numbers -- 9 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists -- barely hint at his value in this game. Green and Iguodala are the primary defensive communicators, and Green held it down fairly well -- until he, too, was gone.

“Our communication wasn’t very good and we didn’t stick to the game plan; we gave them too many wide-open threes,” said Klay Thompson, who scored 11 first-quarter points but only 5 over the final three.

“We did a good job in the half-court of keeping them in front,” said Kevin Durant, who also scolded himself for committing eight turnovers. “But in transition we got cross-matched so many times and we just didn’t communicate well enough.”

Games aren’t always lost in the fourth, despite the frequent narrative, but this one most assuredly was. With Green in the locker room accompanied by ice, the Warriors were outscored 34-20 in the fourth quarter.

After shooting 45.8 percent through three quarters, the Rockets took it to 56 percent in the fourth, closing the game on a 13-5 run over the final 4:01.

The Warriors don’t yet know when Green and Iguodala will return, whether it’s as soon as Friday at New Orleans or a matter of weeks. Until they do, Kerr will have to resort to patching things together.

Problem is, aside from the scoring of Nick Young (23 points on 8-of-9 shooting, including 6-of-7 from deep) and Jordan Bell (8 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes), the bench did not distinguish itself.

That was particularly true on defense, which happen to be where Iguodala and Green make their greatest impact. The reserves accounted for 13 of the 25 fouls called on the Warriors.

“We’ve got to be better,” Durant said. “We’ve got to be better, and we’re looking forward to practice Wednesday.”

D'Antoni claps back at Draymond, Warriors after Rockets' 122-121 win

D'Antoni claps back at Draymond, Warriors after Rockets' 122-121 win

Draymond Green usually gets the last word.

Not this time.

"Somebody said we don't take it seriously on defense. Well obviously they don't take it seriously either," Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said after the Rockets knocked off the Warriors 122-121 on Tuesday night., according to Santa Rosa Press Democrat's Phil Barber.

The jab stems from Green's comments after practice on Monday.

"You should believe that. I'm turning over a new leaf. Number 1 -- they want it to be a shootout, which is fine. But we're gonna play some defense. We score pretty well, but we're a damn good defensive team, too. So we're gonna play some defense.

"I don't know how serious they take defense with that comment, but I know they added some good defensive players," Green told reporters Monday.

Green won't get his next shot at D'Antoni and the Rockets until January 4 in Houston.