Thursday, January 23, 2003

I HEART THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: "Coach Eric Musselman chuckled before Wednesday's game when asked if he could have envisioned in October that the Warriors would be two games behind the Lakers with the halfway mark of the season approaching." And, as of last night, they're one game behind the Lakers, defeating them in Los Angeles 114-110. That's so great. And:

This was not the Lakers team that stumbled through November and December, either. The Lakers (19-22) had won six of their previous seven games, with Shaquille O'Neal seemingly rounding into his MVP form and the role players elevating their play.

The Warriors, however, outplayed the Lakers down the stretch as backup point guard Earl Boykins delivered once again, the Warriors limited Lakers star Kobe Bryant to five second-half points and shooting guard Jason Richardson made two clutch free throws to clinch the outcome.

Earl Boykins: Laker Killer. Also Troy Murphy gave up his improbable schnozz to one of Shaq's elbows to get Shaq out of the game on fouls. And it was Derek Fisher's best game of the season too, which only makes sense in light of the fact that the Lakers lost this one--when one of your role players is putting up the big numbers something, like Kobe's knee, ain't right. More:

Golden State Eric Musselman liked the way Boykins came up big again late in the game.

"He's a guy that wasn't even with an NBA team the first three weeks of the season, but as far as a guy coming in and being like a baseball closer, he's a guy that hits big shot after big shot and wins games for us,'' Musselman said.

I like this idea of basketball players coming in the role of a baseball closer--what Brian Shaw does for the Lakers, or what Charles Oakley's role was recently defined to be by Doug Collins. And now Earl Boykins, miniature novelty act, legit basketball fourth-quarter player.

Thinking about this game it occurs to me that the Warriors are a team (like the Grizzlies) that League Pass was invented for. At the beginning of the season I thought, "Hey, this is great, I've never even heard of Gilbert Arenas." Now they're sort of blossoming and it is good to watch. You kind of had the sense that they would pull off the victory last night, even as you were thinking "The score's close, it's the fourth quarter; the Lakers usually win this." But Kobe was off and the Warriors looked about a million times less tired than the Lakers, and so they got the win. They're such a fun team to watch. Tim Kraus is the luckiest man on Earth.

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