Ray Ratto

Game 7 a 48-minute encapsulation of Warriors' entire season

Game 7 a 48-minute encapsulation of Warriors' entire season

And for their next trick, the Golden State Warriors will open the NBA Finals by refusing to take the floor at for the first half of Game 1.

You know, just to see how far they can push this third-quarter thing when everyone is watching.

The Warriors completed their turn as an underdog by beating the Houston Rockets, 101-92, in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, and doing so in the most atypical and typical of ways – by helping the Rockets achieve their best selves without Chris Paul, and then punishing them for daring to dream by utterly crushing their spirits in the second half.

I mean, it doesn’t get more antisocially entertaining than that.

Indeed, the Warriors are attempting to become the first team in the sport’s history to overcome their own conference, the best team in the other conference, and their own nagging boredom all at once. Indeed, they did a 48-minute stage show of their entire season Monday night, just to drive home the point that not even their own stultifying ennui can beat them four times in seven games.

Game 7 can be explained with one Steve Kerr quote, during the TNT First Quarter Confessional – “We played the worst quarter we’ve ever played as a team, and we’re just down five points. We’ll be all right.” And he was indeed correct, as much as his players tested his capacity for patience for the first 27 minutes.

Nobody thought much about the Warriors winning when James Harden converted an 11-foot floater three minutes into the third quarter to put Houston up, 58-47. But the beginning of the end had happened nine minutes earlier when Harden missed an open 28-footer in the middle of the second quarter.

It was the first of 27 consecutive missed three-pointers by the Rockets, a stunning achievement that even teams that tank for a living couldn’t manage, a miss that sparked a 24-minute stream of failure that the Warriors eventually decided to make them pay for, full retail, no refunds, no exchanges.

Oh sure, it looked like the Warriors had simply done their usual three-quarter magic show, and they had. They outscored the Rockets 33-15, to turn an 11-point halftime deficit into a seven-point lead, and Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant quelled the darkest thoughts of restless Warrior fans by scoring 24 of the team’s 33 points in the quarter.

But 27 straight misses by the team perfected volume three-point shooting transcends not having Chris Paul. The Point God might have saved them, even on one leg, flamingo-style, but sometimes forces of nature will simply have their own.

And it wasn’t even as if the Warriors played smothering defense to cause those misses. The Rockets just missed, again and again, with good looks and bad ones, contested and abandoned, losing in a way that may make all their other galling postseason failures fade in comparison.

But the best teams, the ones that don’t let their boredom turn to despair, take what is given them, and eat with both hands until the opponent can give no more. The Warriors have won a series in the most infuriating of ways, at least for those who still expect them to routinely perform at their highest level.

They don’t. Well, they haven’t. This story might have ended differently had Paul stayed healthy (though, conversely, it might have been the same had Andre Iguodala stayed healthy), and this story might have ended differently if the Rockets hadn’t outdone the Warriors’ terrible first half with a second half that was even more record-breakingly ghastly.

But now it’s the same old story once again – Cleveland and LeBron James in the Finals, if we don’t have the order reversed. James has been more Jamesian than ever this spring, and now must be more Jamesian still against Golden State.

And even at that, he has to hope he can shoot better than Houston did (the Rockets shot 28.8 percent, missing a staggering 190 threes in the series), and that his teammates make more than cameos in the series.

And ultimately, that the Warriors test fate a few more times, and for a change get punished for it. It hasn’t happened yet, but surely the day must be coming. Maybe by the time they move to San Francisco.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for NBCSportsBayArea.com.

The Kings are the Kings, Myers can't swindle in second round and thesaurus reigns supreme

The Kings are the Kings, Myers can't swindle in second round and thesaurus reigns supreme

When the biggest news to emanate from the NBA Draft is Adrian Wojnarowski’s thesaurus, you have a bad draft.
When the second biggest news is Sacramento bowing to the wishes of Luka Doncic (and the Kings did just that, we are sure) as another reminder of its place in the basketball universe, you have a bad draft.
When the third biggest news is that nobody wanted to talk to Bob Myers about selling their second-round pick to the Golden State Warriors because . . . well, just because, you have a bad draft.
When the fourth biggest news is which draftee’s mom is the hottest, you have a bad (and oddly creepy) draft.
And when the most compelling stories coming out of the draft are still LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Dwight Howard, you have a bad draft.
In ten years you may find, of course, that this was actually a 2009-level (as in great) draft for future stars, and all the other stuff will no longer matter. But that is the case of most things these days – they seem like big deals for about 24 hours and end up being nothing of import.
In short, as entertainment, this NBA Draft was that rare flatliner. The league is apparently much better at roasting money, the time for which begins shortly, or maybe our tastes as voyeurs are changing.
The Warriors got in Jacob Evans, the 6-6 wing from Cincinnati, a sort of poor man’s Draymond Green (which is a compliment, and an almost rave review for a 28th pick), but the greater development Warriors-wise was Bob Myers’ inability to sweet-talk a second-rounder out of money-hungry competitors. This may be a sign that nobody wants to touch the Warriors as a trading partner, at least until they are no longer considered enemies of the people, or maybe people are coveting draft choices more than they used to do.
As for the Kings, they went for Marvin Bagley III largely because he was the highest rated player who went for them. Doncic was largely considered the superior choice, and Michael Porter’s troublesome back worried too many teams (he ended up falling to 14 and Denver), but Bagley wanted to be the second pick if he couldn’t be first, which made his appeal to the Kings clear.
But it did nothing to dispel the largely held notion by many players and/or agents that Sacramento is to be avoided by any means necessary, and not because the city is demonstrably worse than any of about 20 other NBA outposts. It is because the perception remains that ultimately, the Kings are gonna King.
Thus ends another NBA show, with minimal effervescence or lasting effect. It was a great draft for the purist, if that matters to you, but the truth remains that LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard are going to blot out the sun this summer. It is a victory for the status quo.
That is, unless you have a rooting interest in the Adrian Wojnarowski-fought-the-law story line, and frankly, you shouldn’t.

Yelp reviews for Ayesha Curry's restaurant in Houston just plain mean-spirited sabotage disguised as hyperfandom


Yelp reviews for Ayesha Curry's restaurant in Houston just plain mean-spirited sabotage disguised as hyperfandom

There is always a good reason to despair for humanity these days. Humanity is, on the whole, performing at a Baltimore Orioles/Arizona Coyotes/New York Jets level, and needs a serious makeover if it is to last through the current millennium.

The latest example of this is in Houston, where local Rockets fans have decided to flood Yelp, the only populist reviewing site, with reviews slagging the new barbecue restaurant opening in town that is owned by megachef Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry, wife of Him.

The key here being that the restaurant hasn’t actually opened yet, so these reviews are meant only to ruin a business run by someone whose husband has a nice jump shot and who otherwise has never meant anyone any harm (although I can’t vouch for the coleslaw).

This is a gentler modification of the campaign by Kentucky fans who tried to ruin referee John Higgins’ roofing company in Nebraska in 2017, and then doubled down with death threats, because Kentucky basketball is that kind of a thing.

Now Warriors fans, who have the same problems with excessive free time that Rockets fans evidently do, have flooded Yelp with five-star reviews of the restaurant, which is no more open for their expertise than that of the Houston fans. In other words, this is one more example of how technology and democracy are wasted on people like us.

The argument has been advanced that Curry somehow invited this by opening up a restaurant in a town that has been bedeviled by her husband’s accuracy for four years now, but this is grandiloquent nonsense. The Kentucky fans showed us that state boundaries are no deterrent to such hate-fueled Internet hijinks, and I have unwavering faith that Rockets fans would have done this if she and Mina had opened their restaurant on the surface of Io. And that Warrior fans would have responded similarly.

Now maybe this is an old guy’s argument (and in the spirit of transparency, I have never met Ayesha Curry or eaten a morsel of her food-based products, so I am aggressively indifferent to her future, good or ill, as a pan jockey), but back in the day the traditional way of objecting to a restaurant was not to patronize it, and when sufficiently aggrieved to give it bad word of mouth. But that was always in response to a poor meal, inadequate service or hygiene shortcomings. That was presumably the idea behind Yelp – to widen the sensible review base.

But in all such cases, the establishment had actually plated a meal and delivered it to the customer before people took to their keyboards or not-so-smartphones to register their views. This strategy is just plain mean-spirited sabotage disguised as hyperfandom, and is one of the reasons why people who take the extreme view that fans suck are not entirely off-base.

The clear solution here would be for Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and general manager Daryl Morey to attend the grand opening of the joint and chow down in earnest. They don’t have to rave about it, or even comment about it. They just need to be seen doing so, and when asked by a member of TMZ’s guerilla restaurant desk after the meal what they thought, they should say this:

“We are pro-Houston, and we are pro-business. We want everyone’s businesses to succeed, including this one. If you like us, and you do, you’ll leave these folks be, to make their eatery survive or fail on the merits. Oh, and be sure to try the brisket.”

Reason: We wouldn’t want Warrior fans to get the idea that Fertitta’s restaurants should be similarly attacked, or that they should start smearing his casinos simply because he owns the Rockets. Because once this starts, it never stops, because our culture has taken the greatest information delivery system and turned it into a gigantic hate farm.

There. Wasted lecture over. And yes, by all means, do try the brisket, even if your outraged sensibilities about the Western Conference Final allow only to do take-out.