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Here is a link to my column about the Warriors’ extraordinary come-from-behind win over Toronto. The full column appears below:

OAKLAND

Wow!

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.

Wow!

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 lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

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Comments

12 Comments

  1. Streetglide

    NBA basketball is a fixed, stupid game played by physical freaks. You’ll get a typical score of 105-102. What that means is in the space of an hour 100+ baskets were made. It all runs together and if the favorite team of the owners and media isn’t winning the refs fix it so they are.

    It’s really beneath you Lowell-san to write about this crap. Baseball fine, NFL of course but the NCAA and the NBA should be avoided at all costs…

    December 4th, 2013 7:41 am

  2. Mark M

    I turned the game off after the third period and went for a walk in the cold…..oops.

    Good perspective on the long term vision of this team. Hard to take the NBA too seriously, especially on nights like this, a night where the Heat lost to the Pistons in Miami and Toronto looked like the show time Lakers for 3 quarters.

    December 4th, 2013 9:18 am

  3. dharte

    Interesting argument, Lowell. I think I disagree with you about their title chances, but this team shoots so well that like a boxer with a great knockout punch, they are always going to have a chance.

    But they lack depth, and Bob Myers did a poor job last summer replacing Landry and Jack. Though saying that, Festus Ezili will give them a lift if he can come back healthy for the stretch run. What worries me more is their casual attitude toward ball-handling, especially Curry with his annoying one-handed (and with his left hand in particular) passes that are a turnover waiting to happen. Last night, even during the comeback, he had a sequence with four straight turnovers. Mark Jackson must get his backcourt to take better care of the ball. A great, well-coached team like the Spurs, Clippers, Pacers or Heat will win every close game if they win the turnover battle.

    So I wonder if Myers (or better yet, the great Jerry West) can find one or two players as bad teams try to dump salary in February and March. With a couple of additions, this group could be the finest since the mid-70s, and that team was so good to watch. It’s been a LONG time coming…..

    December 4th, 2013 10:06 am

  4. Ben

    Streetglide, again with the burning NBA hatred. Did you get bullied by a really tall person as a child?

    Lowell, you touched on it, but with the Warriors seeming to get lazy every time they either have a lead or are playing a “weak” opponent… it’s worrisome. I wonder if the kind of heart and focus it takes to fix that problem is something that can be coached at this level, or if players either have it or they don’t and that’s it.

    December 4th, 2013 10:58 am

  5. Tommy CostaRica

    Jajajajaja is how the Ticos laugh with the j being the same j as in San Jose! The Warriors are friggin’ entertaining to watch! Lowell, you’re right Mark Jackson surprised us all; he’s “da bomb” of a coach and the state of the NBA is all good to me!

    December 4th, 2013 11:59 am

  6. sf9erfan

    Lowell,
    I agree with you 100%. The Warriors will lose their fair share of games during the regular season because of bumps and bruises, the tough west, the second game of back to backs, etc.. But not only are the Warriors built for the playoffs with a great core of 7-8 quality players, they are very flexible with numerous players able to play multiple positions. The Warriors are a match up nightmare once they get into a series since they can/will exploit opposing weaknesses over a seven game series. If the core players are relatively healthy going into the playoffs, they will build off of last years playoff success. That’s the big “if”…

    December 4th, 2013 1:22 pm

  7. Stan

    Yeah well,the win was great- and don’t ask me why I watched start to finish even when they looked surely dead.
    But,Lowell, I saw some troubling problems. Klay continues to do his MT2 penned “Klayups” Easy missed layups and fouls for no reason. And worse, Curry. I have to wonder if for that chronic ankle pain he’s taking prescribed medication? Because he just looks loopy when he loses the dribble so often. And he gets fancy with the ball for no reason like in those movies where the drugged up athlete goes nuts on the court..and makes very bad passes.
    A point guard who routinely just misses the dribble with no pressure?

    December 4th, 2013 1:29 pm

  8. glenellen

    It was so bad that I had to change the channel for awhile. It was a tough night in the early going. Couldn’t find anything else on TV to interest me. ( Oh ya, the Food Channel.) So I kept checking back on the Warrior game. It stayed ugly for the longest time. Down 27 is so difficult to watch your team getting clobbered. Finally mid 3rd quarter they went on runs, knocking 5 points then 10 points off the lead. Now they are just 10 points behind. And what a sweet reward to see them at the end ! It took time to calm down after all that.

    - If they lost by 27 you would have had a very different article.

    December 4th, 2013 1:44 pm

  9. Streetglide

    No. One guy bullied me. Once. No one bullied me after that. I was on the wrestling team. That’s a sport. NBA Basketball is a joke…

    December 4th, 2013 2:47 pm

  10. Stan

    Losing the dribble, constantly dropping the football- JaMarcus like, all signs.
    And getting hot? it wore off,he’s sharp again. Funny that JaMarcus was at his best late in the game. Signs.

    December 4th, 2013 6:29 pm

  11. B

    Streetglide,
    I assure you the refs had little to do with this one. Pure basketball ownage in that 4th quarter nba or not.

    December 5th, 2013 5:37 am

  12. Brady

    I think Streetglide’s on to something. The refs were clearly responsible for all of Curry and Thompson’s 26-foot 3-pointers going in the hoop.

    December 5th, 2013 9:48 am

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