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News » Golden State Warriors have trouble closing out games

Golden State Warriors have trouble closing out games

Golden State Warriors have trouble closing out games OKLAHOMA CITY Warriors coach Don Nelson said he was baffled by his team's play down the stretch against Orlando.

With the Warriors down eight points inside of two minutes remaining in Saturday's game, Nelson told his players that he wanted them to look for a 3-pointer, but if it wasn't there to take the best shot available.

That translated into four consecutive perimeter shots, all of them contested and the latter three from 3-point range.

The Warriors missed all of them, and the Magic went on to win 126-118.

"They've got to understand better than that," Nelson said after Saturday's loss.

No question, the Warriors are having problems finishing.

Nelson, though, will remain in the Bay Area recovering from pneumonia, so the Warriors will have to get hands-on experience closing games without him on a five-game road trip that begins today in Oklahoma City.

Perhaps one of the bright spots of Golden State's injury-plagued season is that players such as Monta Ellis, Anthony Morrow, Anthony Randolph and rookie Stephen Curry get valuable experience when NBA games really matter in crunch time.

If only they can overcome the inevitable setbacks during this process.

"All this is good," said assistant coach Keith Smart, who will serve as head coach during the road trip. "This is training for where you're going to eventually be in a couple years.

"It's painful, for coaches, players, everyone. But you know you're going to have to go through that for your team to eventually evolve to become pretty good."

Ellis is training to become the primary facilitator in clutch situations, aka the go-to guy. Since Stephen Jackson was traded to Charlotte, Ellis is the undisputed closer on the team. Considering this is his debut in such a role, perhaps his struggles could be expected.

In addition to developing a reliable go-to shot and learning how to improvise under the most pressure, Ellis is charged with the task of making a play against extra attention.

Teams are starting to double-team Ellis and force the ball out of his hands, meaning he also has to learn when and how to take advantage of the added attention he draws.

"All I'm focused on is getting a basket," Ellis said after practice Sunday evening at the Thunder's team facility. "It ain't hard at all. I knew that was coming. It's cool. That's what they made film for. It's all right. We've got counters, and we're going to use them. I knew it was coming. No surprise to me."

Smart said Curry was a likely candidate to become a fourth-quarter option who makes opponents pay for focusing on Ellis. Curry has the ballhandling skills, the vision and the Basketball IQ, Smart said. All he needs now is comfort, which comes with experience.

Saturday, Curry made a lazy pass that proved to be a critical turnover inside of four minutes.

"It still hurts to lose games," Curry said. "I know we've got a lot to learn, but you'd like to learn through positive experiences. ... But it's better than watching. You get to feel the emotion of playing the game, getting nervous, you get to feel that with the ball in your hand. It's just overall better that way. The opportunity is there."

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 7, 2009


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