When it comes to Jackson's minutes, Nelson is between rock and hard place
March 1, 9:06 AM
by Matt Steinmetz, Golden State Warriors Examiner
As you would figure, coach Don Nelson and Stephen Jackson, the Warriors’ best player, draw a lot of the criticism for the Warriors’ dismal season.
Among other things, Nelson draws heat for relying too heavily on Jackson, playing him too many minutes and being overly tolerant of Jackson’s sloppy play at times.
Jackson gets it for dribbling into traffic, being casual with the ball, turning it over way to much and, at times, dominating the flow at the offensive end.
OK, that’s out of the way. Now, the reality: This whole thing ain’t an easy one for the coach and the star player. It's easy to say "Play Jackson less," but the reality is the Warriors are worse when he's not playing.
The bottom line is that the Warriors are better with Jackson on the floor, and when he’s not on the floor they are in dire need of a playmaker … any kind of playmaker.
And the last two games were proof of that. Let’s take a look:
On Friday night against Charlotte, Nelson took Jackson out of the game with 6:43 remaining in the second quarter and the Warriors down 41-36. Jackson sat for less than three minutes. When he returned to the game with 3:50 remaining in the second quarter, the Warriors were down 53-43.
With Jackson finishing up the second quarter, the Warriors went into halftime down just 61-55.
In the third quarter, Jackson crammed 12 points and four assists into nine-plus minutes of action. Nelson decided to give Jackson a breather late in the third quarter (2:46 left).
By that point, Jackson had been the key man in an extended run that had turned that six-point halftime deficit into an 84-78 lead. Unfortunately for the Warriors, with Jackson on the bench, Charlotte made a run and actually had the lead back 89-86 after three quarters.
The Warriors, of course, lost to Charlotte, but it’s also worth mentioning that Jackson hit a jumper with 28 seconds remaining that put the Warriors up one and also knocked down two free throws with 18 seconds remaining that gave them a two-point lead.
The game before that was a loss to the Clippers, and it was another game where Jackson’s value was easy to see.
With Jackson starting, the Warriors jumped out to a 27-20 lead. Then, Nelson took Jackson out with 2:11 left in the first quarter. By the start of the second, the game was even 27-27.
Jackson played most of the second period, but Nelson gave him a breather with 3:25 remaining before half, and the Warriors down just one. The Warriors would get down seven before settling in down five (60-55) at half.
The point here is this: While we all grouse about Jackson’s shooting percentage, his penchant for turnovers and his intermittent stubbornness and while we also don’t like the way Nelson gives him lots of leeway, the fact remains that Jackson is the team’s best player and they are worse off without him.
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