Mark Jackson

Warriors have ‘no panic’ after 25-point loss in Dallas, their fourth straight


The Warriors have been a nice surprise this season, playing better than most expected while winning enough games early to be in solid playoff position for essentially the entire year.

Things have changed recently, with the team suffering its fourth straight loss on Saturday at the hands of the Mavericks, and not really competing very much along the way in a game where the final deficit was 25 points.

Both the team’s All-Star big man David Lee and head coach Mark Jackson said there would be “no panic” afterward, but good teams aren’t supposed to get steamrolled by 20-plus points game after game, so there should be at least a certain level of concern.

From Art Garcia of Fox Sports Southwest:

“We have no panic, but it’s very frustrating,” David Lee said. “Not only losing four games in a row, but the manner in which we lost them. Every team goes through the up and downs during the season. The key for us is to figure it out sooner rather than later and have a good last game before the All-Star break.”

“We’re fine. There’s no panic,” [Jackson] said. “We lost another game, we didn’t play well, we made mistakes, we did not put together 48 minutes of basketball, but there’s going to be no panic. We’re going to regroup and be preparing for the next one.”

The losing isn’t too worrisome; it’s the way the Warriors are losing, getting blown out by teams that they probably should beat in two of the four losses during this current streak.

It started in Houston, where the Rockets hung 140 on the Warriors, and nearly set the NBA record for most three-pointers made in the game, before Jackson instructed his players to intentionally foul near the end of that contest to make sure that didn’t happen.

That game was followed by a 21-point loss in Oklahoma City the following night, where there’s no shame in losing to one of the league’s best in the Thunder. But the quickness with which the Warriors were dispatched wasn’t pretty, as OKC had 67 points on the scoreboard by halftime, just 24 hours after Houston had put up 77 over the game’s first two periods.

In Memphis two days later, Golden State looked much better, but was ultimately doomed by a 37-point second half of scoring where the team got virtually no help offensively beyond the play of Lee and Stephen Curry. This one wasn’t so bad, as the Grizzlies play hard-nosed defense, especially at home, and make things tough inside with their big man combination of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

The loss in Dallas was one the team will likely blame on the schedule, as well as some injuries. It was the Warriors’ fourth game in five nights, and Jarrett Jack, who’s been huge for this team off the bench all season long, missed his third straight game due to injury. Andrew Bogut, still not cleared yet to play on the second night of back-to-back games, sat this one out, as well.

Jackson and Lee may be correct that there’s no reason to panic yet, despite the team’s season-high losing streak. After two days off, Golden State will get a chance to turn things around at home against the Rockets on Tuesday.

Now, if Houston comes into Oracle and comes away with another double-digit victory, especially after the way the last game between these two teams went down? Then it might indeed be time to allow panic to set in.

Celtics president Danny Ainge on Brad Stevens: ‘He’s a keeper’

Brad Stevens

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has never finished a season with a winning record. He’s over .500 this year only because Boston came back to beat the lowly 76ers. He has never won a playoff game.

But Stevens – who signed a six-year, $22 million contract in 2013 – has plenty of job security.

Celtics president Danny Ainge, in a Q&A with Chris Forsberg of ESPN:

You’ve joked about it before, but are you ready to give him another six-year contract yet?

Ainge: [Laughs] Yeah.

You have to start thinking about that. Sure, we’re only in Year 3, but you can’t risk letting a good coach get away.

Ainge: No, listen, he’s a keeper. He’s great. He’s great to work with. Like I said, I think he’s going to be — if he stays in this game long enough — he’s going to be one of the great coaches.

I tend to agree with Ainge’s assessment. Stevens has looked like an excellent coach so far – implementing a sound defense, creating space on offense and communicating clearly with his players.

But Stevens has benefited tremendously from low expectations, arriving in Boston after Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen retired. Expectations sunk even lower when the Celtics traded Rajon Rondo last season.

That’s when Stevens appeared to do his best work, guiding a starless team to a 24-12 finish.

Expectations will keep rising, though. Some expected the Celtics to break out this year, but they’re just 8-7. Stevens faces the difficult task of managing a rotation full of pretty good – but no great – players. This might be his hardest NBA assignment yet.

Stevens has done plenty to earn praise from his boss. But to actually get a contract extension, he’ll have to keep meeting higher and higher expectations.

I believe Stevens is up to the challenge, but I’m not completely certain of it. He wouldn’t be the first coach to impress early in his tenure and then fizzle. Just look at how many Coach of the Year winners lost their jobs a short time later.

Again, I think Stevens will meet any reasonable expectations he faces. He just must actually do it to get a longer deal.

League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.

However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.

Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.

“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”

“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”

One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”

Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.

But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.