The Warriors lost a close game to a bad team. They probably could have rebounded better with their feet. The early crowd probably could have made more noise with their stomachs. The crunch-time crowd was louder than an avalanche of burning farm animals. And the evening was a depressing reminder of why I love hoops.
Monta Ellis: Scores Difficultly, in Bunches of Awesome
Some players are described as scoring easily. I’ve often heard it like this: “You think he’s not doing much, then you look up and he’s got 30 points.” Monta Ellis is the opposite: He scores difficultly, to thrilling amplification. Monta’s twisting layups and off-balance jumpers tend to leave you feeling like he scored 10 more points than he did. The stat sheet reads, “40,” my memory whispers, “50.”
And Monta’s dunk. That’s what it’s like to be transported, to completely fly away from whatever problems, issues, or entanglements haunt your life. The straining stuff just doesn’t exist when Ellis crushes Turiaf like a Venus Flytrap. All that matters is the unbridled joy of seeing it live.
Much as I’d like to rip Keith Smart for going small, for trying to match D’Antoni’s midget-fetish, I’m not sure he has any choice. The frontcout is extremely frontloaded, and exposed in Lee’s absence. When DL went out, the two-dimensional movie set flopped over into a dust-churning heap. With David Lee and Andris Biedrins, the Warriors are very good. Without one of either, they’re a Secaucus ping pong ball.
Jeff Adrien: Slipping Away
I wanted to interview Jeff Adrien after the game, but those questions couldn’t squirm past a lump in my throat. I genuinely felt for him and a stranger’s pity is the worst kind of empathy. The undrafted forward is clearly trying, fighting, scrapping for a job. But he’s not Anthony Morrow or CJ Watson, and he didn’t instantly turn opportunity into NBA vocation. And that’s hard to watch. Amid the crowd noise, the carnival of lights and flying freaks, quiet dreams die on the floor. We often reserve our sympathy for the stars who miss out on championships. My heart goes out to D-League bound.
Sports fans are conditioned to believe that victory is indicative of virtue. Example: “Monta Ellis is playing better because he’s a good father.” But, there are those who just can’t make it because they just can’t make it. It’s a tough league, and–as we vicariously live through these athletes–it’s easy to forget that success is about more than simply “wanting it more.”
It’s possible that Adrien will bounce back, but sympathy isn’t optimism–it’s the byproduct of negative prognosis. If an end-bencher can’t perform against the Knicks, his NBA future might be signed, sealed, and Turkey-delivered.
The Lesser of One Vlad Rad
Vladamir Radmanovic was less than effective and I’m less than angry about it. After the game, it’s hard to question VR’s playing time. As mentioned above, the cupboard is bare. VladRad is far from my favorite player, but sadly, he’s the best option at times. Before the game, I had this exchange with Keith Smart:
ESS: “Are you going to keep playing Radmanovic if he keeps playing at this level?”
Smart: “You’re not watching the game, you’ve got to watch the entire game. Coach watches everythign, you’re only watching what his numbers are. I don’t pay attention to that, what else is he doing, for the whole game, and then we can have a nice conversation.”
ESS: “What is he doing exactly?”
Smart: “He understands defensive concept, he’s in the right places. He’s doing things for us there, he also knows how to move the ball, rather than forcing something from time to time…
He’s doing all the little things that never show up in a boxscore but only show up on film. And if you want to come with me and look at some film–
ESS: I’m game. Let’s do it.
Smart: Okay, that’s right.
(Marcus Thompson quickly adds: “He’s after me though, right?” Keith Smart warns about the 5:30 AM start time for such viewings.)
Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton combined to shoot nearly 80% for 61 points. I need to watch some tape and figure out what the hell happened on those pick and rolls. My main question: Did Felton’s game benefit from Amare’s lack of a real opposing power foward? As for Gallo’s outburst: Curry was guarding him down the stretch. Again, the Warriors need big men. Badly.
Randolph Regret Index: On hold, like Anthony’s career.