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News » Warriors offer a novelty act, and a lot of fun


Warriors offer a novelty act, and a lot of fun


Warriors offer a novelty act, and a lot of fun You learn something new every NBA game.

On Saturday night, I learned that Dwight Howard spits on the ball.

Every time a Warriors player went to the line to shoot two, after the first free-throw try, the Orlando Magic's massive center asked the ref for the ball, spit on it and flipped it back to the ref. Seriously.

"I'm just blowing on it," Howard fibbed with a smile when I asked him about it after the game. "I'm putting a spell on them."

The Warriors should have had coach Don Nelson spit on the ball when Howard went to the line. Nelson has pneumonia germs the size of house cats, but Typhoid Nellie started feeling better and better as his shorthanded Warriors hung with the mighty Magic before losing 126-118.

It was a game Nelson enjoyed profoundly. The fans loved it, too, rocking Oracle Arena.

Even though the Warriors played with a skeleton crew - or maybe because they played with a skeleton crew - they showed the team's true identity: This is a novelty act. Fast and furious, putting on a great show even while sitting well below .500.

It's a flea circus. Remember when Monta Ellis said he and Stephen Curry couldn't be in the backcourt together? Nelson solved that problem Saturday by starting Ellis at forward. Nelson, patchworking because of injuries, started three guards.

The Warriors are under-sized, underfed underdogs capable of overachieving, maybe on a fairly regular basis. That's good enough for now for the fans, whose message to the Warriors is: Do not turn this place into Bore-acle Arena.

Last week, George Karl ripped his Denver Nuggets, saying he doesn't have a "play-hard team - five guys I put out there on the court to play hard every possession." Join the club, George. Nelson doesn't have that problem. He has:

Ellis: Now in constant attack mode, playing with attitude.

Curry: The little brother, playing hard to prove he belongs.

Vladimir Radmanovic: Shot lousy Saturday, but looks like he tries to find something good to do every second he's on the court.

Chris Hunter: The NBA Development League escapee won't play a lot, but somebody said Hunter plays like he's desperately trying to earn his rent money. Call him Rent-check Hunter.

Anthony Randolph: Constantly on the ragged edge of control, which must annoy the opposition. When he's on, as he was Saturday "Best game he's ever played for me," Nelson crowed, Randolph swirls into every play at both ends of the court.

There aren't many dogs in Warriors togs. Nelson can put a play-hard team on the court every game, usually with a play-hard sub or two.

I ran the "novelty team" tag past a high-level NBA insider and he said, "That's Nelly's kind of team, isn't it?"

Which is good and bad. To rise above novelty, you have to have an outstanding big man. Any decade now. But novelty can be fun. Nelson's old Run-TMC Warriors were a classic novelty team, not bound for the Finals but a rousing show featuring three play-hard guys with All-Star cred.

These Warriors are not in that class, but the three main men - Ellis, Randolph and Curry - have sizable upsides.

Ellis has found the keys to the key, invading enemy paint at will. Next step in his development: Perfecting the Steve Nash traffic-jam dish-off.

On Ellis' first drive Saturday, he got bottle-capped - Howard simply slapped a huge hand over the top of the ball. Second half, Ellis drove, ran into a wall and whipped a pass back to Randolph, who flipped to Radmanovic for a three-ball. Like that.

Nelson, one would assume, now realizes that if his novelty act is going to keep rocking the house, Randolph and Curry must play a lot, even if that means a temporary shut-down of Nellie's Doghouse.

Randolph on Saturday seemed to find his inner Billy "Kangaroo Kid" Cunningham, firing lefty jump shots from all over, as per his pregame orders from Nelson. Randolph finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.

After the game, he showered and dressed at warp speed and was ducking out of the arena when a media posse headed him off. Randolph seemed quite glum, in spite of his remarkable performance against All-World Howard. Maybe Randolph simply doesn't like to lose.

Nelson doesn't like to lose, either, but he seemed energized Saturday. Maybe Nelson is genuinely caught up in the spirit of his revved-up novelty team. Maybe his players have pulled their coach out of his pre-illness hang-dog lethargy.

Maybe Nelson will feel spunky enough to join his team in the middle of its just-starting five-game trip. Every good team needs a play-hard coach.

Warriors today 6-13 at Thunder 10-95 p.m.CSNBA/680Oklahoma City is 8-0 when it scores at least 100. The have held only one opponent to fewer than 103 points.


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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 7, 2009

 

 
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