Monday, January 31, 2005

5 down, no light in sight.

Foul trouble kept Elton Brand off the court for more than 13 minutes in the first half against Golden State.

When he finally got back in the game, he was almost unstoppable.

Brand scored 27 points and Los Angeles Clippers beat Golden State 96-85, completing their first season sweep of the Warriors.

The Clippers' power forward picked up two fouls in the first 3:04, but the Warriors couldn't capitalize.

``I couldn't wait to get out there again,'' said Brand, who didn't commit another foul. ``I was hoping that Coach trusted me not to foul again. But the reserves really stepped up.''

Reserve center Zeljko Rebraca made it easy for coach Mike Dunleavy to keep Brand on the bench, scoring 17 of his season-high 19 points in the first half.

``It gave me that luxury. That was very positive for us,'' Dunleavy said. ``Z was going pretty good, so I kept him out there longer than I had to after Elton got those two early ones. I wanted to buy as much time as I could -- but not so much where I broke Elton's rhythm. ``

The Clippers led 36-30 when Brand returned to the floor, and he scored six points in a 1:27 span -- including a 17-footer that capped a 17-6 run.

The Clippers outrebounded Golden State 54-34, including a career-high 16 by Rebraca. The Warriors entered the game allowing a league-worst 46.4 rebounds per game.

``It's tough to win games when you get outrebounded by 20,'' Derek Fisher said. ``They kept some balls alive after we made some good defensive plays and had two and three cracks at the basket -- especially in the second half. And that's tough to overcome in this league, no matter who you're playing against.''

This is the first time the Clippers have swept a season series of four games or more since taking all four from the San Antonio Spurs and Vancouver Grizzlies in 1996-97.

Jason Richardson scored 29 points and Mike Dunleavy Jr. added 22 for the Warriors, who have lost five straight and 14 of 15 following a season-best four-game winning streak. They have lost eight straight on the road.

The Warriors finished their January schedule 1-14, tying the 1997-98 squad for the second-worst since the franchise moved from Philadelphia in 1962-63. The Warriors were 0-15 in January 1985.

First-year coach Mike Montgomery was forced to use his 12th different starting lineup after forward Troy Murphy came out of the loss to Seattle on Friday night with a hairline fracture of his left thumb. Murphy will be re-evaluated next week.

``From the start of the season, we've just been surviving,'' Fisher said. ``It seems like one guy or another go down with an injury. It's tough to be good and stay consistent and continue to get better when you have injuries -- especially to key guys.''

Clifford Robinson, who missed the Warriors' previous four games because of a stiff lower back, gave it a shot but played only five minutes and missed both shots he took.

Clippers leading scorer Corey Maggette did not play after bruising his left collarbone in Friday night's loss at Portland. But the Clippers are 5-1 in the games he has missed this season because of injury.

``When guys are out, especially those who are a big part of our team, everyone steps up and plays well,'' Bobby Simmons said. ``Rebraca had a great game on the inside for us and Elton had another great game. We were executing the offense that Mike put in for us, and that's the only way we're going to win when guys get into foul trouble.''

The Warriors trailed by as many as 12 before trimming the deficit to 80-73 with a 16-footer by Fisher and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Richardson in the final 28 seconds of the third quarter.

They got as close as four on a three-point play by Calbert Cheaney with 4:46 to play. But Brand responded with a short jumper, triggering a 8-0 spurt that gave Los Angeles a 95-83 cushion with 1:15 left. Richardson missed all five of his shots in the final quarter. ^Notes: Richardson has 170 points over his last six games, but has also missed 79 shots during that span. ... Brand had eight rebounds, ending his streak of double-doubles at nine -- two shy of his career best. ... Simmons, who shot only 7-for-26 in his previous game, was 3-for-15 this time and finished with 11 points. ... Mike Dunleavy Sr. is 6-2 in games against his son. ... Clippers F Chris Wilcox, who was activated from the injured list on Friday, played for the first time since Jan. 2 after being sidelined with a stress reaction in his right leg. He played four minutes. ... Golden State PG Speedy Claxton missed his fifth straight game because of a bruised right thigh.

Our season isn't going to get easiar, as we start slacking. Murphy missed the game against the Clippers with a hairline fracture to his thumb. Richardson made a worthy attempt of making a game out of the defeat, but obviously failed. All we can hope for is a miracle or a win to get us out of the loosing state of mind. We need to step up our game Warriors!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Trading already..

Chris Mullin, the Warriors executive vice president of basketball operations, was back at practice Tuesday, working out and shooting with his team.

After weeks away in Europe scouting, Mullin returns with several big decisions waiting for him.

The looming Feb. 24 trade deadline offers one of the Warriors' last opportunities to make significant changes to roster that has not panned out thus far.

"You're always looking for upgrades no matter where you are," Mullin said after practice. "I thought we had good talent (coming into the year). We have to figure out what fits."

Probably heading the agenda is getting something for forward Clifford Robinson and center Dale Davis, who combined represent more than $15 million in salary cap space.

Robinson is in the final year of a deal that's paying him more than $5 million this season. Davis is earning around $10 million this season before becoming a free agent. Any team that has them at the end of the season will have their contracts come off the books. The Warriors can't profit from the salary cap relief because they already are over the cap for next year.

The Warriors could trade Robinson and/or Davis for more talent, acquiring one or more players worth up to 115 percent of their salaries.

They could trade for one player making nearly $15 million this season, such as New Jersey point guard Jason Kidd or Seattle guard Ray Allen or Cleveland center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Then, at the end of the season, the Warriors would be able to extend said player if necessary because the collective bargaining agreement allows a team to go over the cap to retain its own free agents.

However, this would put the Warriors in danger of the luxury tax if it goes into effect. For example, the New York Knicks' player salaries add up to $101 million. If there is a luxury tax and it's set at $60 million, the Knicks would be penalized $41 million.

Another route the Warriors could take is to trade Robinson and/or Davis for trade exceptions, which are NBA gift certificates of sorts given to teams over the salary cap that give up more than they get in a trade.

The New Jersey Nets reportedly are interested in Robinson. Robinson's or Davis' contract would fit under the approximately $10 million trade exception the Nets got in the Kerry Kittles trade to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Though they wouldn't be able to combine trade exceptions, the Warriors would become players in the offseason by acquiring them. The exceptions are good for a year after they're acquired, meaning the Warriors would have nearly up until next year's deadline to trade their "gift certificates."

Small forward Mike Dunleavy, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of next season, also is a tradeable commodity. If Mullin decides Dunleavy isn't a good fit with the young nucleus, he could move Dunleavy -- especially if he uses Robinson and Davis to acquire some pricey small forward or shooting guard.

Mullin won't comment on trade speculation, but, coming up on his first trade deadline as the decision maker, he emphasized that he wasn't going to make a move just because the team is 12-29.

"But if I feel like it's a positive change that's going to make this team better," Mullin said, "no question. Done."

Sunday, January 16, 2005

9 straight losses...

The Warriors got a spirited performance from point guard Derek Fisher, who burned his former team with a career-high 29 points.

The Warriors overcame their habitual third-quarter collapse, outscoring their opponent in the period for the first time in nine games. They made a season-high 12 3-pointers, making 7 of 16 in the second half.

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But it still couldn't prevent their ninth consecutive loss, a 104-102 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers at the Arena on Saturday.

With the game tied at 102 and 12.6 seconds left, Lakers forward Lamar Odom -- being guard by Clifford Robinson one-on-one on the perimeter -- drove to the basket and dropped in his patented lefty finger roll with 1.3 seconds left.

"He's a hard matchup for us," said Montgomery, who brought Robinson off the bench to defend Odom though Robinson hadn't played all quarter.

Odom finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds as Los Angeles won its first game of the season without star Kobe Bryant, who was placed on the injured list Saturday with a sprained right ankle.

The Warriors had a chance to win it, but Speedy Claxton's 3-pointer from the top left of the arc banked off the back iron, disappointing the remainder of the first sellout crowd of the season (19,602).

"It felt good. It looked good," said Claxton, who finished with 15 points, 10 assists and two steals, and was still shaking his head in disbelief. "I thought that was in."

Fisher took it to Los Angeles, where he played his first eight seasons in the NBA before signing with the Warriors (11-27) as a free agent during the offseason. He was 11-for-19 from the field, including 4-for-9 from behind the arc.

He scored 19 first-half points as the Warriors trailed just 51-49 at the half.

The Lakers shot 50 percent from the field (21-for-42) in the first half, including 5 of 6 3-point attempts. The Warriors, meanwhile, shot just 39.1 percent from the floor, including 5-for-15 from behind the arc -- figures greatly aided by Fisher's 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting, 2-for-4 from 3-point range, in the first half.

It was the ninth consecutive game the Warriors either led, tied or were within two points at the half. The previous eight games they were outscored in the third quarter.

But Saturday, the Warriors outscored the Lakers 32-26 in the period, their first time cracking the 30s since Dec. 26 at Sacramento.

Fisher started the quarter with a 3-pointer. He didn't score again in the quarter, but his teammates put together a 20-12 stretch to take a 76-70 lead at the 3:16 mark. Forward Mike Dunleavy started the run with a 3-pointer -- one of his four on the night -- from the left corner, and guard Mickael Pietrus ended it with a 3-pointer from practically the same spot.

The Warriors led 81-77 entering the fourth. Fisher resurfaced again at about the 10-minute mark, giving the Warriors their largest lead of the game, 88-79, with a 3-pointer from the right wing.

Fisher -- who seconds earlier received a technical foul for shoving Lakers point guard Chucky Atkins, his replacement -- stared at the Lakers bench and did some sort of sumo trot toward the defensive end. Less than two minutes later, Fisher hit a pull-up jumper to give the Warriors a 92-83 lead.

"The last time we played the Lakers in L.A., I didn't get a chance to get going much," Fisher said. "It was an emotional game for me. (Saturday) seemed more like a regular game."

But the Lakers stormed back. Odom scored eight points during a 19-10 Lakers run to tie the game at 102. The Warriors' ensuing possession was negated by an Adonal Foyle charge, setting up Odom's game-winning basket.

"(Odom) was isolated at the top," said Troy Murphy, who finished with 14 points and a season-high 19 rebounds, "and he made a great play."

only 10 days ago, we were doing ok and we were still able to put up a good fight. But now we are the 2nd worst team in our conference and 4th worse in the league. We have been playing terribly. We really don't have a scoring power house, but 5 guys that are off and on with scoring and the games in which one guy scores alot, the other fails too. Lets hope we don't make it 10 losses first, then we can look ahead later. Pick it up Warriors!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Shutting down the raptors!

Jason Richardson just might be the consistent clutch performer that the Golden State Warriors desperately need. That job is a bit easier when he gets this kind of help from Mike Dunleavy.

Dunleavy made the go-ahead shot with 37 seconds left and finished with a season-high 29 points in the Warriors' fourth straight victory, 111-105 over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.

Richardson scored a season-high 35 points -- 21 in the second half -- and added two late free throws. He was outstanding in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 points and touching the ball on nearly every possession for Golden State.

The guard still hasn't lived up to his vast potential in four NBA seasons, but this gritty win was another good sign. With Dunleavy right alongside, the two highest draft picks on the Warriors' roster carried them to their longest winning streak under first-year coach Mike Montgomery.

``That's the crunch time, and that's when great players step up,'' Richardson said. ``That's what I want to be. I've got a long ways to go, but I'm getting closer. Even if I don't score, I've got to get the ball in one of my teammates' hands.''

It was a surprisingly intense meeting between last-place teams. Toronto's reserves outscored Golden State's bench 50-2, but the clubs traded leads all night, with neither going ahead by more than six points.

Dunleavy, still fighting a flu bug that's caused him to lose 10 pounds, hit four of the Warriors' season-high 11 3-pointers.

Dunleavy has struggled under Montgomery, who has kept him in the starting lineup despite poor play. He still struggled on defense against the Raptors, but Dunleavy repeatedly found holes in their defense for easy points, scoring 18 in the first half and finishing three shy of his career high.

Toronto coach Sam Mitchell was infuriated by his team's willingness to allow the slumping forward to score so many points -- though both teams allowed plenty of open shots, mostly due to the clubs' excellent passing.

``We don't guard,'' Mitchell said. ``Not taking anything away from (Dunleavy), but he's been struggling. We run defensive schemes, we play zone, but at a certain point, you've got to guard your man. You've got to take responsibility.''

Jalen Rose scored 23 points and rookie Rafael Araujo had a career-high 13 in his third start for the Raptors, who lost their 10th straight road game.

Toronto tied it at 101-101 on Donyell Marshall's 3-pointer with 1:58 left, but Dunleavy awkwardly banked in a short straightaway jumper with 37 seconds to play, giving Golden State a 105-103 lead.

Morris Peterson drove the lane for Toronto, but Adonal Foyle -- who became Golden State's career leader in blocked shots on Monday -- swatted Peterson's layup attempt with 25 seconds left.

``We're just not getting it done. I can't justify it at all,'' Rose said of Toronto's road losing streak. ``There's no excuse to be said. We play a young (lineup), especially with our starting unit, and on the road, we have a different mindset, as opposed to playing at home where everything is more familiar and comfortable, and the crowd is cheering for you.''

The Warriors played without starting point guard Speedy Claxton, who strained his groin late in Golden State's victory over Denver on Monday night. Derek Fisher got just his fourth start since signing a $37 million contract with Golden State last summer.

Though exhausted after playing 41 minutes, Fisher scored 17 points and hit four free throws in the final 9.4 seconds.

``That was a very composed performance in the fourth quarter,'' Fisher said. ``I'm proud of the strides we've made in the last three weeks. We're playing very well, and we're finally getting wins to show for it.''