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Here is a link to my Thursday column about the Warriors-Heat game. The full column appears below:

OAKLAND

The Warriors lost to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night 111-110. The loss was too bad for Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who’s on the hot seat. Well, if it’s not the actual hot seat, it’s a warm seat that’s getting hot real fast.

Just the other day, Warriors owner Joe Lacob gave an interview to the San Jose Merc that wasn’t at all complimentary toward Jackson. Forget the impropriety of the owner throwing his coach under the bus, especially a winning coach. Owners usually keep their thoughts about the coach to themselves. And by the way, the general manager — Bob Myers — is supposed to speak for the organization, and now Lacob has elbowed Myers out of the way. But, OK, let’s overlook Lacob’s improprieties. It’s delicious for fans and media to have an owner who can’t shut up.

According to Lacob, the Warriors should be a top-four team in the NBA’s Western Conference, and they’re not even close. According to Lacob, his team has not shown progress from last season. “We have not played as well as we need to play,” he said.

Here are a few more

Lacobisms:

“The team wasn’t ready” for certain games.

“We’ve squandered some home games.”

“I certainly expect us to be better than last year. We’re roughly the same.”

Lacob was directing this stuff at Jackson. Lacob refused to give Jackson a vote of confidence, said he will reevaluate the coach after this season. That’s why Jackson has ants in his pants these days. That’s why Jackson lashed out at the media after he (Jackson) threw Andrew Bogut under yet another bus, saying Bogut hurt himself sleeping.

There’s a lot of bus throwing on the Warriors.

In the pregame news conference, someone pointed out Lacob had used charged words about the Warriors like “disappointing,” “disturbing,” a “concern.”

To which, Jackson replied, “He didn’t just use ‘disturbing,’ and you said another ‘D’ word.”

Disappointing.

“He used ‘good,’ too. You can throw that in there. (That brought a few laughs.) I understand it. He talked about pressure. There’s pressure in my entire life. What’s new to my guys is the expectations. The bar has been raised. It’s a process to learn how to handle that. I think we’re figuring that out. You can’t jump over the process.”

Jackson better learn to jump.

Here’s one more thing Jackson said before the game, and then we’ll do some analysis. “I really like our core guys. I believe, when we’re healthy, you could make the case we’ve got the best starting five in the discussion with anybody in basketball.”

Jackson apparently didn’t understand he was criticizing himself. If the team is tops and the record is not what it’s supposed to be, then the coaching is the issue.

But, yes, the Warriors are a good team, a promising team. They played the world-champion Heat tough. It took a LeBron James’ 27-foot, step-back 3-pointer at the very end to beat the Warriors. But the Warriors lost. And please don’t make an excuse. Don’t say they didn’t have Bogut and that’s why they lost. The Heat didn’t have Dwyane Wade.

The Warriors need to improve things.

They don’t have a proper passing sense. Most of the players want to shoot too much. They are not selfish. But Stephen Curry and David Lee score a little bit too much. In spite of how much Jackson claims he likes his bench, the Warriors’ bench does not have an identity. The Warriors miss Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry more than they understand.

By now, the Warriors should have shown more maturity, unity and toughness. This is on the coach. They should be a good defensive team every night, not just some nights. This is on the coach. Everyone agrees the Warriors have not reached expectations. This is on the coach.

Jackson said he has a great core of players. And he’s right. It’s an elite group. Andre Iguodala, the big offseason acquisition, elevated them from “very good” to elite, gave them the potential to be top-four in the West.

So what’s up with Iguodala? Sometimes you forget he’s even on the court. He sort of goes stealth on everyone. For a dynamic contributor, for a difference-maker, he’s awfully passive.

Here’s the skinny on Iguodala. He plays fundamentally good basketball. He’s off-the-charts smart and he’s talented in basketball basics, stuff many players ignore these days. He is a good ball handler and he passes well. He’s a flat-out great defender. He understands schemes. The Warriors need what he does and that’s why they got him.

His weakness is offensive ego — or his lack of it. He loves to pass more than he loves to shoot. He thinks it’s OK to score 10 points a game. Wednesday, he scored nine points and took only seven shots. Seven shots? He can’t ignore offense. The Warriors need to get him more consistent shots, but Jackson doesn’t give him enough quality opportunities on offense.

Iguodala likes the big spotlight, relishes it. But he does not like to force his personality on the team. He is a paradox. He is self-effacing, especially on the Warriors where he’s still feeling out his teammates. It’s just that the Warriors have played 53 games and the feeling-out period ended long ago.

Final notes: It was a privilege to see James play. He drives the hoop. He shoots 3s. He plays killer defense. Certainly, he goes on the Mt. Rushmore of the NBA. “The guy is the greatest small forward that’s ever played this game,” a stoic, quiet Jackson said after the game. “He’s a complete basketball player with no weaknesses and no flaws.”

After Wednesdays’ loss, the Warriors’ record is 31-22. At this time last season, they were 30-23. That’s progress of sorts.

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

8 Comments

  1. Dennis

    I thought your column was pretty right on the mark. I think their starting 5 a top 4 but the team is fringe playoff material. Their bench is the difference. I think they really miss Jarret Jack. Carl Landry, maybe, but not as much as Jack. Jack was always a presence on the floor. He was the attitude that Iguodala is not. Iguodala is a great fundamental basketball player, as you say, but he is not going to bring the attitude that Jack brought. I think they are missing the attitude.

    I am going to disagree with you about them wanting to shoot too much. I think Curry needs to take better care of the ball when he passes it. Way too many turnovers in this category.

    The other problem I see is they miss Harrison Barns. He has left the building this year.

    The bottom line is that while they have a very good defense they only have three guys that can score on offense that the other team needs to worry about: Curry, Lee and Thompson. Take any one of them out and you have one less scoring threat – very easy to defend.

    February 13th, 2014 8:14 am

  2. Mark M

    No low post scoring outside of an inconsistent banged up Lee. Barnes and Thompson are shadows of what I thought they could be. And yes, Jarrett Jack is a huge loss from a leadership standpoint. He always seemed willing to take the big shot, to be the momentum shifter, play aggressive no matter what. Crawford is a total bust at this point in my view.

    I don’t really disagree with anything in this piece, but it’s just so hard to get worked up in the middle of a bloated NBA season. I guess Lacob’s interview was a wake up call in that the team now needs to show what it is truly made of. If they have a run in them, this would be the time to make it.

    Fun game last night. The funny part is that I thought Lebron was totally sucking down the stretch…..making turnovers, bad forced shots, distracted defense. I really though they were going down. And then two big bombs towards the end…..game over.

    February 13th, 2014 9:50 am

  3. Stan

    After listing those words that start with “D”.,he later in the interview said “I didn’t read the whole interview. I was starting to get depressed”. Cant tell if that was intentional or not.

    I know one thing,today Larry Krueger are one mind on Warriors basketball. Going one on one with the ONLY player on the team who can hit a 3 pointer? Is gigantically bad coaching strategy. Talk about end game? That’s asking a pawn to block the Queen. Sure death for the pawn.

    February 13th, 2014 9:51 am

  4. dharte

    Actually Barnes has played well recently, and he is far more athletic than Thompson.

    Quick question: could you get a superstar (the Warriors need another such player to go with Curry and Iguodala) for Klay Thompson & David Lee? Kevin Love is the player I’d want, and Love and Bogut would give San Antonio & OKC fits. There would still be Draymond Green and little else on that bench, but a starting five of Bogut, Love, Barnes, Iguodala and Curry would be elite.

    This is not a young team, in spite of Lacob’s championship happy talk; the window for Bogut and Iguodala is two, maybe three years, and with Curry’s ankles always a question mark, who knows how long he can play at this level….

    They need to do something now. A new, more disciplined coach, one who would not tolerate carelessness and multiple turnovers, plus a real power forward, would work wonders, I suspect. The Warriors are close, but no team with David Lee playing defense in the 4th quarter of a playoff game is winning a ring.

    February 13th, 2014 10:06 am

  5. Matt in Newark

    Sometimes I feel as if Mark Jackson coaches like how Dusty Baker manages baseball. He wants to be a players’ coach to the point that he doesn’t make the difficult decisions and doesn’t know when to bench a player. Current Giants fans scream about Bruce Bochy, but as he sniffed the playoffs, he went into complete control mode and didn’t mind leaving Zito off the playoff roster. Sometimes a coach has to start proactively pushing all of the right buttons.

    February 13th, 2014 3:52 pm

  6. chris

    I don’t think Lacob is elbowing Myers out of the way. He just likes to be open and out there as an owner which is refreshing…….especially after the hermit Cohan…….Lacob goes on KNBR with Radnich every few months for an hour so I think he likes to talk to the fans and media. I’d say this years team is worse than last year and that Myers off season moves besides Iggy have been busts. The Dubs are missing the gritty play of vets Jack and Landry bigtime.

    February 13th, 2014 9:48 pm

  7. Stan

    Iguana -man his whole career was more gritty then Jack and Landry combined. Why he picked the Warriors to flop is a head scratcher. Like Nash this year and Howard last year for the Lakers. Remember last year pre season some experts- ahem- had said “give the Lakers the west right now” ?.

    This team can only overcome so many coaching mistakes. I think Mark Jackson has used up many of his motivational speeches and the players aren’t up to some of his moves.
    Mark needs sit down and plan with somebody wise and knowing.
    What’s Jerry West been doing?

    February 14th, 2014 12:34 pm

  8. chris

    uh Stan…….who beat Iguodala’s Denver team last year with major contributions from Jarret Jack and Carl Landry……guess you forgot already.

    February 14th, 2014 9:40 pm

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