Here is a link to my column about the Warriors’ extraordinary come-from-behind win over Toronto. The full column appears below:
If you weren’t at the Warriors-Raptors game Tuesday night, where were you?
Great comeback. Just great. A game you needed to see. The Warriors were down by 27 — maybe from boredom against the lowly Raptors — and came all the way back, took the lead at 101-99 with 2:59 left in the fourth quarter on a Stephen Curry 3-pointer. The Raptors tied it up, but the Warriors took the lead for good on a Klay Thompson jumper, won the game 112-103.
After the game, coach Mark Jackson came to the media room, transported with joy. Listen to the coach:
“In this league you allow a team to get it going, no matter what their record is, the talent in this league will make you pay the price. They (Toronto) got it going early. We were bad on both sides of the basketball. The crowd got quiet. We deserved for them to be quiet. But we regrouped and we began to play our brand of basketball. This being my third year here, there has not been a bigger win when you talk about a statement, when everybody could fold the tent and say, ‘Let’s look forward to the next one.’
“At halftime, I didn’t say a word. I was about to show some film. From what I understand there was rumors that I cussed the team out. That didn’t happen and it won’t happen. I didn’t say a word. Did not show the video. But the good teams and the great teams, they know.
“I give credit to guys like (Andrew Bogut) and Harrison (Barnes). As a former player I’ve watched teammates sulk, be upset because they were not in the game at that time. Those guys were up, they were active, they were supportive. It was an easy call for me tonight because the guys that were in the game (Jermaine O’Neal, Draymond Green) deserved to win it or lose it.”
Someone mentioned that O’Neal gave a halftime speech.
“I’m a guy that fortunately played and I’m not insecure and I know the players have a lot invested in this team,” Jackson said. “You allow them a voice and they respond. I’ve seen coaches yell and call timeouts. Players know what’s wrong. They didn’t need any speech. So Jermaine did a lot of the talking. I pretty much wrapped it up with, ‘Bring it in.’ The best speech I ever gave.”
Let’s step away from the coach and get something straight. You need to understand who the Warriors are. They are a team built for the playoffs. They are reasonably sure they’ll make the playoffs, although, at this early point of the season, they are flirting with not making the playoffs.
After last season, a rewarding season, the Warriors took a gamble. They decided not to keep Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack. The Warriors let those two leave as free agents to free up salary room for swingman Andre Iguodala, the final piece. The Warriors exchanged depth for a better core of players. Why did they make that exchange? Because in the playoffs they will need a high-quality core instead of extreme depth. In the playoffs, they rarely will go past the seventh or eighth man — in the regular season, they can empty the bench.
The final piece is not playing these days and neither is the backup point guard, Toney Douglas. It doesn’t matter that those guys are out now. It doesn’t matter that rookie Nemanja Nedovic is the backup point guard or that Green is the sixth man, although on a really good team — a healthy Warriors team — he might be the eighth man. It doesn’t matter that the Warriors don’t have Barnes, their true sixth man, coming off the bench. And it doesn’t matter that backup center Festus Ezeli will be out a long time.
The depleted Warriors still win games you think they should win — like Tuesday’s game, even though they took a curious path in doing it. In past seasons, they would have lost some of those games if even one key player was injured.
It bears mentioning that late in the first quarter when the Warriors were floundering, Jackson played these five: O’Neal, Green, Marreese Speights, Klay Thompson and Nedovic. Not a world-beater lineup. One you won’t see in the playoffs. Remember this. The Warriors are built for later rather than sooner. Think of this incarnation of the Warriors as a hanging-around team — hanging around a neighborhood called “Being in Contention.” They want to hang around until the critical moment of getting into the playoffs and going on from there. Last season, despite depth, they couldn’t go far enough.
Jackson, of course, deserves tremendous credit. He is a stern head coach. He is what the Warriors need. He wants it known this is his team, his philosophy, his plays. He doesn’t draw up the plays at timeouts, but they are his plays. He wants you to know this.
Before the game, one writer asked about the mess with the Brooklyn Nets, first-year coach Jason Kidd dumping primary bench coach Lawrence Frank because of “different philosophies.” Jackson snapped, “That’s trash to me.”
He said a team has only one philosophy, the head coach’s. He was castigating Frank — disloyal. He also was explaining his own position as the one and only voice.
One time, he got angry at me because I wrote he must prove he can coach now that his primary bench coach, Mike Malone, left the Warriors to coach the Sacramento Kings. The implication was Malone did the detail work and Jackson was a figurehead. Jackson and I talked about it. We had to. We shook hands.
I’m happy to say it here. Mark Jackson is an excellent coach and he alone runs his team, no question about it.
And one other thing. The Warriors played around with not beating the Raptors, with getting murdered. But they did win.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at email@example.com.