Entries in Bill Walton (1)


Warriors 'not a surprise' in crushing the Grizz

By Art Spander

OAKLAND, Calif. — About the only thing that didn’t happen Monday was Dusty Baker taking over as the Niners' starting quarterback. But Blaine Gabbert is. And Dusty is about to become manager of the Washington Nationals. And, of course, Stephen Curry had another huge game — as did the unbeaten Warriors.

Down Santa Clara way, the 49ers, in either a fit of panic or of desperation, benched their QB, Colin Kaepernick, which, yes, was man-bite-dog news. Up here at the Oracle, where Curry finished with 30 despite not playing a single second in the fourth quarter and the W’s built up a 52-point lead in the third quarter, it was dog-bite-man stuff.

In other words, tell us when something remarkable happens, which these days doesn’t really describe any Warriors performance, even when they crush the Memphis Grizzlies, 119-69.

The Dubs are 4-0 now, every win against a playoff team, and their next game, Wednesday, is against the Los Angeles Clippers, who have a history with the Warriors. Meaning rough play. But Golden State didn’t take the NBA championship last season by backing away from anyone, rough or not so.

There’s a tradition of teams coming out the year after they win the title and playing better than ever — the Portland Trail Blazers of Bill Walton, father of W’s interim coach, Luke, did that — and wow, are the Warriors on a roll.

“We can’t wait to start in March or April,” said Draymond Green. “We got to start now.” They’ve started, and there’s no indication they’ll ever stop, and one of the reasons is they know how to stop the other team.

For the third time the in four games, Curry had a quarter of 20 points or more, getting 21 in the third. But it was at the other end of the court the Warriors grabbed the game, holding the Grizz to 12 points in the second quarter and 15 in the third. When a team scores only 27 points in 24 minutes, it has no chance. Memphis had no chance.

“It’s not a surprise we’re playing this well,” said Walton, who has replaced the ailing Steve Kerr for as long as needed. “This is what these guys do.” That sounds like one of those commercials. If you’re on the Warriors, who play to near perfection, that’s what you do.

“Our defense was fine in the first quarter,” Walton said, referring to a 22-21 deficit. “The message at the start of the second quarter was more that we needed to play with a faster pace. Twenty one points in a quarter is not points for us. The second unit was great again tonight. They came in with a smaller lineup and got some stops and we started pushing it, and they got some energy.”

They defended (Memphis shot 27 percent for the game), they rebounded (65 to Memphis’ 44) and they swept down the floor in waves as the sellout crowd of 19,596 joined in with roars and screeches. “Get Loud,” orders the matrix board over center court. As if the advice as necessary.

Walton was comparatively quiet in the postgame interview, but his words were meaningful. He gave high praise to Green — “Draymond has been awesome; that’s why we pay him $82 million” — and to Festus Ezeli, starting at center in place of Andrew Bogut, who has a concussion.

Green had 11 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three blocked shots. Ezeli had 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.

“This is a championship team,” Memphis forward Zach Randolph said of the Warriors, who held him to four points, “but they’re not 40, 50 points better than us. We know that.”

They were Monday night, and Walton who played on the champion Lakers in their glory days, said it’s not a surprise the Warriors have come out of the gate like, well, American Pharoah.

“When we play at a level like this,” said Walton, “we are very, very hard to beat.”

So far they’ve been impossible to beat.

“I’m impressed that we’ve started this well, and hopefully we just continue to do it," Walton said. "Confidence has always been something that our guys have, but it’s a fine line because you are also getting everybody’s best shot. But there’s also a little bit of an intimidation factor. When we start making shots and locking up on defense, it can cause some teams to fold.”