NBA Beat: Warriors' playoff drive takes a detour

Published: Sunday, Mar. 10, 2013 - 2:00 am | Page 5C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013 - 12:13 pm

For years the word "Playoffs" painted near the top of a wall in the bowels of Oracle Arena serves as a reminder of where the Warriors have gone so few times in recent seasons.

There is no year accompanying the emblazoned word. But not too far away, there is a framed T-shirt from the last playoff run.

The words "We Believe" are on it, the slogan from the 2007 playoffs that saw the eighth-seeded Warriors knock off top-seeded Dallas in the first round.

Since 1995, that is the only time the Warriors have made the playoffs.

A month ago, the playoffs appeared to be a formality for Golden State.

Coach Mark Jackson was being discussed as a Coach of the Year candidate, David Lee was on his way to an All-Star Game selection, and Stephen Curry had thrust himself into conversations about the NBA's best point guards.

But after stumbling through February (4-8), the Warriors were 5-11 in their last 16 games before Saturday's game against Milwaukee, and have tumbled to sixth in the Western Conference.

Rather than trying to catch the Los Angeles Clippers atop the Pacific Division, the Warriors have to worry about more losses putting them behind the Lakers, who are ninth in the conference.

Jackson points to defense as the reason for the Warriors' slide.

"We've struggled at times containing the basketball," Jackson said. "We've struggled at times protecting the paint. But we're not going to panic. I think every team goes through it."

The Warriors began the season with a furor defensively, but they entered Saturday allowing 101.4 points per game, the seventh-most in the NBA.

While Golden State holds teams to 44 percent shooting, the Warriors haven't helped themselves with 15.3 turnovers per game, tied with the Lakers for fourth-most in the league.

"When you are a great defensive team – or a very good defensive team, which we were – you've got to be committed top to bottom," Jackson said. "Especially if you don't have a lock-down defender."

Jackson said the Warriors' two best defenders haven't been factors because of injuries. Brandon Rush played in the season opener, and then was lost for the season to a knee injury two nights later.

Center Andrew Bogut is back in the lineup but is not the defensive force the Warriors hoped he would be. Bogut had played in 15 games as he recovers from back and ankle issues.

Jackson doesn't want to win games "on the offensive side of the ball," but he might have to rely on what his players do best to make the playoffs.

Jackson just knows that's not a plan for postseason success.

"If we expect to not just to make the playoffs, but if we expect to do the damage that we want to do, we've got to be better," he said.

Stat watch

Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire is expected to miss six weeks following right knee surgery in the next few days. It will be the same procedure Stoudemire had on his left knee – called a debridement – that kept him out of the season's first 30 games.

The Knicks were 21-9 before Stoudemire returned to the lineup as a reserve.

With Carmelo Anthony dealing with a sore right knee, the Knicks are woefully thin up front.

Tweet of the week

Regarding the latest NBA groin-striking incident:

"Kid Blake: Who are you? Future Blake: you from the future … Don't listen to anything else I've told you just start wearing a cup." – Clippers forward Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) with his reaction to Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka being fined for hitting him in the groin during a game, but not suspended.

Miami's Dwyane Wade and the Kings' DeMarcus Cousins have each been suspended a game this season for striking opponents in the groin. In Wade's case, it was a kick.

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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