Davis sits out, and so does Golden State's offense
Janny Hu, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, November 5, 2005
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There were no drumlines, no pyrotechnics. No lengthy pregame circus show.
This time, the fireworks came only from the postgame locker room.
After the Warriors dropped a 91-85 decision to Utah, Warriors assistant coach Keith Smart let his players have it on Friday night. Smart delivered his tongue-lashing during a 25-minute, closed-door meeting that players said contained a simple message.
"We're trying to get to a higher level, and we can't do that with how we played tonight," said Jason Richardson. "We didn't defend, we didn't rebound, we didn't hustle."
Without Baron Davis, the Warriors delivered a stinker in front of 18,416 at the Arena in Oakland. They got down by double-digits early and, despite brief third-quarter leads, couldn't keep up with the Jazz.
In the fourth quarter, Golden State got within four points on a 3-pointer by Zarko Cabarkapa with 5:29 left to play, part of a 10-2 spurt, but couldn't get any closer.
The Warriors could have certainly used Davis. Trouble was, the Warriors also showed several weaknesses that had little to do with his absence.
At the top of the list: Free throws.
The Warriors finished 27th out of 30 teams by shooting 72 percent last season, and they started Friday's game by missing half of their first 20 foul shots. Derek Fisher, an 86 percent shooter a year ago, missed his first free throw. Troy Murphy missed three of his first four.
In one particularly poor sequence, Mickael Pietrus made a spectacular layup on a flagrant foul, then missed both ensuing free throws. Jason Richardson continued the possession by driving in for a layup and getting fouled. He missed his foul shot as well.
No offense, no free throws. Fisher said it was no wonder the coaching staff was upset.
"Some people might say, 'Is it serious that early?' " he said. "But for a team like us, we're trying to do something the organization hasn't done in a long time. For us, it is that serious."
Davis' status was uncertain until an hour before tipoff. Once it was decided he couldn't go, the Warriors point guard spent the first half in the locker room before joining his teammates on the bench. He remains listed as day-to-day, though Montgomery said Davis was improving.
"He's got better strength, better flexion, better movement," Montgomery said before the game. "It's just not worth risking, though."
Instead, it's the Warriors who were at risk of falling into last year's poor offensive habits. They spent most of the second quarter settling for jump shots with plenty of time left on the shot clock. When they ran the floor, they appeared indecisive.
Fisher, starting in place of Davis, stole the ball from Andrei Kirilenko with about three minutes left in the second quarter. He beat the defense down the floor and had a breakaway layup available, but Fisher passed the ball back to a trailing Murphy.
The Warriors' play prompted one fan from the crowd to shout, "Hey Derek, what would Baron do?"
Other than Fisher, every starter had an off-night from the field. Murphy, who went 8-for-8 in Wednesday's season opener, made his first two attempts to extend his perfect shooting streak. He then missed his next seven.
Still, the Warriors were down only two points at the intermission, thanks to Utah's own offensive ineptitude. The Jazz shot 40 percent from the field in the first half and would have done worse if not for the easy layups the Warriors gave up.
"You can't come out and play like we did tonight," Richardson said, summing up the team's effort.
E-mail Janny Hu at email@example.com.
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