Monta misses buzzer beater in Warriors' 88-87 loss to Jazz


Monta misses buzzer beater in Warriors' 88-87 loss to Jazz


OAKLAND The Warriors lost their fifth straight game on Saturday night, as twice Monta Ellis couldnt make a big play or big shot with the game on the line. It only gets more difficult with the Miami Heat coming into Oracle on Tuesday.Jazz 88, Warriors 87

Key sequence: With the game tied at 87-87 and 15 seconds remaining, Monta Ellis got caught in the air and turned the ball over. Utahs Gordon Hayward got fouled on the ensuing fastbreak and knocked down one of two foul shots with 11 seconds remaining.On the games final possession, Ellis who had been one of the few bright spots on the night for Golden State wound the clock down, then missed on a little runner on the right side as time expired. He was defended well on the play by Raja Bell, and Ellis didnt shoot it early enough to allow for the Warriors to get an offensive rebound.Any day (Ill take that shot), Ellis said. It was a tough one. We did everything we could. Ill take this one (the blame). I turned the ball over at the end, then come down and didnt make the shot. It was a great shot. Like I said, Ill take it any day. I just didnt knock it down.Said coach Mark Jackson: No need to hold our heads down. Were going to be fine. But we need to make it happen. Nobody is going to hand-deliver us a win. Weve got to go get it.Ellis evolution: Ellis really played a smart third quarter for the Warriors and he did it despite going 0-for-4 from the field. With his jumper not falling, Ellis went down to the low post and went to work on a variety of Jazz defenders.The result was that Ellis got to the line nine times in the period and he made eight. He also handed out three assists in the period and helped the Warriors overcome a 57-50 deficit.The guy is doing everything I ask him to do on both sides of the basketball, Jackson said.Ellis wound up going 16-for-17 from the foul line, a career high for him in free throws made.

Clawing back: After getting down 18-6 and 21-10, the Warriors slowly but surely got back into it and led 46-45 at halftime. They did it by limiting their turnovers and defending better. The Warriors committed six turnovers in the first quarter, which led to nine Jazz points. They had only two turnovers in the second quarter.As for the defense, after giving up 50 percent shooting in the first quarter, they held the Jazz to 5-for-13 from the floor in the second quarter. The only issue in that period was fouls. Utah was in the bonus halfway through the period and took 11 free throws in that quarter.Yet foul trouble might have been a blessing in disguise for Golden State because it prompted Warriors coach Mark Jackson to finish out the half by playing zone defense.The Warriors played plenty of zone in the second half, too, and it was effective. The Jazz shot only 39.5 percent for the game.Still, Warriors forward David Lee wasnt having any of it."Its frustrating, said Lee, who finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds. While were sitting here at 2-6 we could easily be 4-4 or 5-3. Im going to be very frustrated until we get that next win. Youre on a losing streak and nothing seems positive at this point. In my opinion you cant take anything positive away from todays game.

Wright tries to build: After Dorell Wright made a few shots and finished with 10 points against the Lakers on Friday after two scoreless games the hope was that he was on his way.It was encouraging, Jackson said before the game. I thought he did a good job of stepping up to the challenge and defending Kobe (Bryant). Offensively, he made some shots and was aggressive. We need him and it was refreshing to see him play like the Dorell from last year. Hopefully this is the start of a great roll for him.

Not so fast, my friend.Wright wasnt much of a factor, playing only 20 minutes and sitting out most of the second half. He went just 1-for-3 from the floor on the night. Wright entered Saturdays game averaging 6.1 points per game, while shooting 32.7 percent from the floor and 19.2 percent from beyond the arc.

Jackson ended up going with rookie Klay Thompson down the stretch instead of Dorell Wright. When asked why he went with Thompson, Jackson replied: "To get shooting on the floor. He battles on the defensive end. And I thought in spite of the numbers he played well. I thought he made a mistake on transition on a two-on-one with Monta, but other than that I thought he played very well.Those Warriors are history: Utah coach Tyrone Corbin was asked before the game about the danger of playing the Warriors.Said Corbin: Their speed allows them to get into the open court and if you play an uptempo game with them and their making shots and youre not, it can be a tough night for you. Youve got to make sure you control the tempo of the game. Youve got to slow them down and make them play against your halfcourt sets. Run on your opportunities but make sure you play in a tempo that is favorable to you and not to them.Reality is the Warriors arent an uptempo team anymore. Through seven games the Warriors were averaging just 90 points per game and hadnt cracked the 100-point mark.

Golden State, do we have a problem? Another loss to Rockets awakens Warriors

Golden State, do we have a problem? Another loss to Rockets awakens Warriors

In saying goodbye to their impressive road win streak and a chance to make franchise history, the Warriors also experienced an awakening that should linger somewhere in their minds for months to come.

The new and improved Houston Rockets are a serious threat to the defending champs having a parade in downtown Oakland for the second consecutive June.

That threat likely can’t be realized, however, unless the Warriors put the worst of themselves on full display, as they did Saturday night at Toyota Center in a 116-108 loss to the Rockets.

“In the first quarter, every time we made our push, we gave up easy baskets,” Draymond Green told reporters in Houston. “In the second quarter, we put them on the line the entire quarter, which slowed down our pace and let them control the tempo of the game. In the third quarter, we fought back to kind of get there but not get over the hump. And then we finally did, but we just didn’t have the right amount of focus it takes to win a game like that.”

Indeed, the Warriors were guilty of questionable shot selection at various points. They were largely allergic to rebounding, taking a 46-33 drubbing in that category. And far too often they were impatient and therefore utterly careless with their passing, resulting in 19 turnovers that led directly to 23 Houston points.

“It seemed like we kept making one silly play after another,” coach Steve Kerr said.

Sounds familiar, eh? The Warriors know their greatest weaknesses and hear about them ad nauseam from the coaching staff, yet still struggle to consistently address them.

Stephen Curry, who committed a team-worst six turnovers, lamented two possessions in particular. On one, he missed Kevin Durant “butt-naked at the top of the key,” and on another he had Durant open for a dunk but flipped it to Klay Thompson for a 3-pointer that missed.

“I made two of the worst plays of the season on those two possessions,” Curry conceded. “It’s kind of one of those nights when I personally didn’t have the right vision on the floor I’ve got to take responsibility for that.”

This is why the Warriors deserved to lose this game, which gave the Rockets a 2-1 victory in the season series and the homecourt tiebreaker should the two teams finish with identical records.

The Warriors took a 122-121 loss to Houston at Oracle Arena on opening night, then went to Houston on Jan. 4 and claimed a 124-114 victory.

This is enough to prove the Rockets are capable of beating the Warriors. We also note that in the other loss, Warriors’ turnovers gifted 21 points to Houston.

“We know the recipe against this team,” Curry said. “They’re going to shoot a lot of 3s. They’re going to make some tough shots. But if you turn the ball over and if you foul, which we did both in the first half, then that plays right into their hands. It’s just a lack of focus on the game plan.”

That lack of focus is something that has nagged the Warriors numerous times over the course of the season.

Here’s Houston’s problem: The postseason Warriors tend to be a bit sharper than the regular season Warriors.

And the Rockets, well, remain a postseason mystery. Chris Paul, who was so magnificent Saturday night, has an inglorious postseason history, complete with multiple collapses. MVP candidate James Harden also has dubious postseason resume, with epic pratfalls against the Warriors and the Spurs.

So the events of Saturday night, and the three games in the regular season, serve as reminders that if the Warriors play smart and tough and are fully engaged, they’re still the better team. Despite the chance to set a franchise record with a 15th consecutive road victory, the Warriors were less than fully engaged.

There’s a better than even chance of them being fully engaged in the postseason, should these teams meet again.

“We always talk about hitting singles,” Kerr said. “Well, we were trying to hit home runs all night, and you can’t do that against these guys.

“On the bright side, we know we can play a lot better. And we will.”

Curry takes 'unpopular position' on All-Star draft, has picked assistant GMs


Curry takes 'unpopular position' on All-Star draft, has picked assistant GMs

Steph Curry will be one of the leading players in the NBA's new experiment with the All-Star Game.

Curry and LeBron James will pick the teams from the pool of available All-Stars. Conferences are no more, giving the game a completely different look.

"It's the first time it's happened in the league, so you really don't know what to expect or how it's going to unfold, and just specifically, what it will look like on the floor with mixmatched rosters. LeBron has been an All-Star, what 14 straight years? And he's been with Eastern Conference guys every year, so to see him have to pick some Western Conference guys and vica versa, us in the West, you have the staple guys that are there every year. So to switch it up, I think it's going to be a fun look on the floor. Might take some getting used to, but the actual draft part of it will be cool<' Curry said to reporters after shootaround in Houston on Saturday.

LeBron has the first pick since he received more total votes than Curry. So that sets up the dynamic that LeBron picks Warriors forward Kevin Durant.

"That's a possibility. I'm putting together an assistant GM staff that can help me get my draft board and all that stuff and know how to respond if he picks a certain way. Get the algorythm going," Curry said.

Curry's assistant GM staff will consist of his father Dell and brother Seth.

"I may have to ask Riley and see what she thinks," Curry joked.

All-Star reserves will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 23 and it's possible Draymond Green and Klay Thompson could be among the players Curry can select. Does he feel an obligation to pick them if they are available?

"I don't feel obligated. I would want to. To have the opportunity to play with them on the All-Star Game court, that's what it's all about, kind of embracing that moment, so we'll see how it goes," Curry said.

The big debate surrounding the new All-Star Game format is whether or not the draft should be televised or the results made public. As of right now, the NBA has no plans to show the draft on TV or reveals the order in which players were drafted.

"We've had a lot of dicsussions around that. There's a lot of people in favor of watching it live. There's also a lot of people that understand the reasoning why it's not this year. I'm sure as the new format unfolds year after year, it'll happen. But it won't be this first time," Curry said.

So which way does Curry lean in the debate?

"I've always been a proponent of protecting the players. I know that's kind of the unpopular position. I know we're all grown men, we can all handle it, We're all All-Stars, but we want to see how the new format the first time so it's presented in the right light," Curry said.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr doesn't believe players should worry about where they get drafted.

"No shame in being the last All-Star picked. You're still an All-Star," Kerr said after shootaround.

The All-Star teams will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 and game will take play Sunday, Feb. 18 in Los Angeles.