April 7, 2008
That has to make you at least a little nervous if you’re rooting for Don Nellie’s Warriors.
Now, clearly it’s going to take a team effort for the Warriors to snap out of this poorly timed mini-funk, one that has seen them score less than 100 points in three of their last four games—all losses. On Sunday afternoon in New Orleans, the amazing Chris Paul was triple-doubling (16 points, 13 assists, 10 boards, 5 steals) and his Hornets were stepping up under the national television spotlight to mark their arrival on the Official NBA Contenders List. Meanwhile, Golden State wilted in a flurry of terrible three-point shooting (3-29 as a team!) and poor transition defense, every bit resembling a team that doesn’t match up with the Western Big Boys, though on good days they can play with anybody. It didn’t help that one of ETB’s favorite players in the league, Mr. Baron Davis, went about trying to match CP3 and show up the booing home fans in somewhat half-ass fashion, shooting just 8-22 (including 1-8 in threes) for 17 points. That followed another poor night from the field on Friday against Memphis, when he went 3-13 and finished with just 9 points.
But Baron… I’m not as concerned about Baron’s recent shoting slump as I am with Stephen Jackson’s, who believe it or not is as much the heart and soul of this team as Davis and Nellie are. Lest you forget, this team staggered out of the gates with an 0-6 record this season whilst SJax served a six-game suspension. If he’d been in the lineup, the Warriors would likely have at least three more wins and not find themselves in such a desperate fight for a playoff berth.
No. Baron Davis is going to be there when his team needs him most during these final five, crucial contests. But he can’t do it alone. He needs Magical Monta Ellis to continue torching his defender. He needs Andris Biedrins to be in double-double mode, and for the bench to contribute more than the paltry 5 points and 6 rebounds they chipped in on Sunday. And perhaps most of all, he needs his fellow co-captain, Stephen “Stack Jack” Jackson, to pick up the intensity, stop settling for the easy shot, and go buck apeshit on both ends of the floor.
More on Stephen Jackson’s recent struggles and how he can turn it around after the jump…
It’s no coincidence that the Warriors’ losing skid closely corresponds with SJax’s abysmal production. Over these past four games combined, Jackson is shooting just 12-49 from the field, including an absolutely horrific 3-21 from three-point land. That works out to an average of 7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 24% FG—all far below his season averages, save for assists.
He’s attempted and made a grand total of one free throw during this disappointing four-game stretch, which says a lot about why his shooting percentage has plummeted so drastically. The rangy, 6-8 swingman is almost entirely settling for long, ill-advised, and often contested shots and seems to have forgotten that he’s very capable of getting to the hole and drawing fouls. In fact, he’s had 16 games this season in which he attempted at least eight free throws, so it’s not like this is a season-long trend (he averages about 5 attempts/per).
Against the Hornets, Jackson’s lackadaisical shot selection was hard to miss. One possession after another, Jackson would get the ball on the wing, turn to face his defender, then go through a series of unconvincing shot fakes before deciding whether to chuck it up or pass to a teammate. Rarely, if at all, did you see him take it to the basket with conviction.
It’s only four games. Stephen Jackson has otherwise had one of the better, most impactful (and incident-free) seasons of his eight-year career, and he certainly has the talent and moxy to quickly snap out of it. And he’ll need to do just that, starting tomorrow against the pesky Sacramento Kings, for the Warriors to get over the hump and into the postseason. He’ll need to rekindle his infamous aggression and stop assuming that the only chance for salvation is found behind the three-point line. He needs to get in his man’s grill and bother his shot, and steal passes in the lane that ignite Golden Stat’s prolific fast-break offense.
The weight of Warriors Nation is on your shoulders, Captain Jack. Now’s the time to really earn that “C” stitched onto your jersey.