Rewind: Warriors' lapse reveals lack of competitive fury

Rewind: Warriors' lapse reveals lack of competitive fury
January 29, 2014, 8:15 am
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The Warriors gave the Wizards 31 extra possessions (19 turnovers, 12 offensive rebounds). (USATSI)

OAKLAND -- The Warriors trudged off the court Tuesday night burdened by a range of low emotions. There was exasperation, some introspection, acute disappointment and the scantest sprinkling of agony.

The only visible flash of anger came from the eyes of the coach.

With the truly great teams, at least some of that will come from a player or two.

Mark Jackson won't cuss or yell or scream. He won't belittle. The Warriors coach can, however, smolder and seethe, for still within is the fury of an overachieving point guard whose fine 17-year career was powered by a bracing hatred of losing.

And even as Jackson the coach consistently stands by his team, routinely and resolutely defending its competitive desire, I can't help but imagine a part of him wishes he had a few more players on Team Nice with that same level of fury.

If he did, there might be fewer nights like Tuesday, when the Warriors allowed the mediocre Wizards to walk into Oracle Arena, get comfortable and stay confident and take what they wanted.

The latest Warriors stumble was an 88-85 loss that serves as yet another reminder that they remain very much in transition.

[RECAP: Warriors take step in wrong direction]

"We didn't play at a championship-level intensity," coach Mark Jackson said. "The good or great teams in this league, it doesn't matter who's on the other side."

The awful years are dead and gone, but these Warriors are in midflight, clearly on ascent but with plenty of space between the good team they are and the great team they long to be.

Otherwise they don't step onto their home floor and commit 19 turnovers (leading to 21 points) and get outrebounded 12-5 on the offensive glass, 56-47 overall.

While Andrew Bogut grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds, it says something about Washington's team desire that all five of starters snagged at least seven.

"I don't think we're in the position where we can mark on the calendar (which teams) we're going to beat," Bogut said. "We're not in that position yet. I don't see it. People might see it. But we've got to build this thing the right way. You can’t go from one playoff appearance in (18) years to all of a sudden trying to win championships the next year. It's a process."

The process is at times painful. The Warriors (27-19) late in the second quarter led 49-39 before falling asleep, as they sometimes do. The Wizards (22-22) ended the half with six unanswered points, then opened the second half on a 14-2 run, taking a 59-51 lead with 6:19 left in the third quarter.

"We let them go on a 20-2 run," Bogut said. "There's no excuse for it."

The Warriors fought back, retaking the lead four minutes later and leading as late as the middle of the fourth quarter (79-77, with 6:37 left). But once they opened the door, they never could completely close it.

An edgier, angrier team might have found a way. Or, more likely, never let the door open.

THE GOOD: The bench, often disappointing, acquitted itself well. Jordan Crawford had 9 points, Draymond Green 8 and Harrison Barnes 5. Marreese Speights was particularly active, finishing with 7 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

THE BAD: The starters, as a group, shot a ghastly 31.7 percent. It's hard to win when you give a team 31 extra possessions (19 turnovers committed, 12 offensive rebounds allowed). David Lee, after playing so well on Sunday, followed up with one of his worst games: 11 points (2-of-10 shooting), five rebounds and three turnovers.

THE TAKE: The Warriors didn't lose because Bradley Beal got hot, though he did. They didn't lose because John Wall hit a huge 3-pointer with 1:28 left. The Warriors didn't even lose because they shot only 37.5 percent (Washington shot 37.8). They lost because they slumbered through too many stretches on both ends. The truly great teams always had someone on the floor furious enough to make sure opponents were uncomfortable and not one teammate would dare to sleep.

 

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