Mark Jackson says win over Hawks shows Warriors are ‘for real’

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The Warriors have been one of the nice surprises of the young season, getting out to a 16-8 start, and wrapping up the team’s longest road trip of the year with a 6-1 record after blowing out the Hawks on Saturday.

Much was made of the fact that the Warriors, by virtue of their last-second win in Miami over the defending champion Heat, were now “for real.” Beating this version of the Heat, however, is nothing to get excited about.

People seem to have forgotten just how much the Heat have coasted this season; Miami needed overtime to beat Milwaukee at home, and needed a furious late rally in the final two minutes — again, in their building — to beat a Cavaliers team that is now 5-20 on the season.

And of course, we can’t forget the loss in Washington to the league-worst Wizards.

So, while the win over Miami may not prove as much as the conversation following the win said it did, the way the team competed over the totality of this trip just might.

Golden State essentially no-showed in Orlando two days after beating the Heat, perhaps due to the fact that the team stayed an extra night in South Beach to celebrate that win. But after bouncing back in Atlanta the way they did to end the road trip, Warriors head coach Mark Jackson is becoming one of the believers.

From Jimmy Spencer of CSNBayArea.com:

“We bounced back and I think it’s important for us to do that, to show that we’re for real and we’re going to be here for the long haul,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.

Golden State is clinging to for real, having propelled itself even more into the conversation as one of the league’s authentic winners, after the impressive road trip.

“This is definitely a playoff-caliber team and this win speaks volumes for us as well,” Warriors guard Jarrett Jack said.

Besides the Heat and the Hawks, the Warriors took care of the Pistons, Nets, Bobcats, and Wizards during the 6-1 stretch.

Only Brooklyn in that group is a team that’s even decent, but winning on the road isn’t easy no matter who the opponent is.

And for a young Warriors team trying to make a name for itself, this winning trip could go a long way in making the players on the team believe they’re for real, as well.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.