Highest plus/minus: Andray Blatche and Nick Young (+9)
Lowest plus/minus: Brendan Haywood (-20).
Reaction to this game seems mostly positive in these parts, though maybe it's more of the "aww, shucks" variety than anything. And I kind of get that -- Golden State was shooting the lights out, and yet, thanks to incredible games from Caron and Antawn, we were right there.
But I came away from this game far more concerned, simply because I've seen the problems we had there. We've all seen them, because they've been there the last few years.
Take, for example, Baron Davis. He was simply spectacular, going wherever he wanted on the court. We knew all of Golden State's offense flows through him, yet we couldn't stop him. Antonio Daniels is way too slow to guard guys like BD, and without Haywood in the game, Andray Blatche was simply abused trying to pick up Davis on the pick and roll switches. Again, does this not sound familiar? Wasn't our problem last year that we couldn't defend against good penetrating guards? These types of teams will always give us trouble.
Then, there are the three-point shooters. Golden State hit 51.6 percent of their threes, and it wasn't just that they were shooting the lights out. They mostly had open looks, and naturally, since they have so many good shooters, they converted them. Again, all of this was created by Davis' penetration, and once everyone sagged underneath the basket, he could throw to any open shooter he wanted. That was something that killed us last year, and it hadn't really this year before tonight. Look what happens when you finally face a good offense.
Of course, all of that ties into the lack of defensive rebounding, which killed us on two fourth-quarter possessions when we cut Golden State's lead to one. First, Stephen Jackson missed a jumper, but since penetration had already broken down the defense, Monta Ellis of all people snuck in for the tip. Then, a few possessions later, after Caron Butler hit two insane shots to pull the game back to one again, Kelenna Azibuke missed a three, but somehow got his own rebound, fed Ellis, who executed a pretty give-and-go for another layup. All of our defensive problems were interconnected.
Offensively, I liked the game plan, even if Brendan Haywood struggled with the ankle. Butler and Jamison were pounding the Warriors inside, and Nick Young provided a huge lift when he played. Then, in the last four minutes of the game, everything fell apart. Butler hit some insane shots to keep us in it, but we never ran one clean offensive set down the stretch. Everyone is used to that being Gilbert time, but obviously, it can't be now. There was a lot of standing around, and ultimately, Butler had to force a lot of bad shots. That's a new problem, and hopefully, it'll be corrected.
Defensively, though, I'm not so sure. It was our first real test for the defense, since Golden State is a far better offensive club than Indiana, Minnesota, Portland, or Philly, and they failed. It was a test for Brendan Haywood and Eddie Jordan, and both of them failed. Butler and Jamison each played over 42 minutes in the first night of a back-to-back, which makes this all the more infuriating.
Whatever. It's just one game, and we were right there, but I don't think we can afford to play any more shootouts.