Here's when an NBA team is in serious trouble: With timeouts at his disposal and a last-ditch possession that absolutely calls for one, the coach balks, the team loses, and a local newspaper calls it "a fireable offense." Two nights later, when a player simply needs to put the ball on the floor to draw a foul and ice the game, he casts off from 25 feet and misses. Those are the irredeemably bad New York Knicks, starring Mike Woodson, Andrea Bargnani and other horribly miscast characters. Not to be confused with the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have class, budding reputations and cohesion. The networks have declared them must-see television. They take the Oracle court to great roars of anticipation, only to watch this mysterious early-season malaise continue. They have heady players, yet they turn the ball over like careless playground show-offs. No team can match their outside shooting, but they can't put opponents away. They're criticized for being obsessed with jump shots, but they can be effective inside with Andrew Bogut and David Lee, who has been relentless of late. They have sterling defenders in Bogut, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala, yet often seem powerless to stop anyone. They're loaded with character guys and unselfish players, yet seem reluctant to share at crucial times. Who can make any sense of this? After Thursday's loss to what amounted to San Antonio's "B" team, Bogut had this reaction on Twitter: "I don't usually tweet after games, but there was no excuse for that." "Outsmarted and outhustled," Iguodala told reporters. Highly recommended: a 25-point home victory over one of the league's downtrodden teams, complete with laughter, chest-bumps and rousing ovations. And how convenient: The Lakers are in town Saturday night. Kobe Bryant's latest injury, a knee fracture that will keep him out six weeks, has L.A. searching for answers - although it couldn't be more clear: Have Kobe take at least two months off, perhaps the rest of the season. Realize that Steve Nash's ailments won't ever set him free. Trade Pau Gasol for an attractive draft pick. Accept the fact that, with a first-round selection at their disposal, getting into the 2014 lottery could be a handsome reward for missing the playoffs. Why even have second thoughts? Because Bryant is likely to accelerate his rehabilitation, come back earlier than expected and express his burning desire to win another championship. You have to admire his determination; it's the reason he'll be linked with the greatest players of all time. But he'll be the last to realize that he'll never recapture his old form, that the team is deeply flawed whether he plays or not, and that next season - marking the start of a two-year, $48.5 million extension the Lakers granted him much too soon - should be the focal point.
Warriors' malaise is probably only a phase
San Francisco Chronicle | Dec 21