Warriors coach Mark Jackson not rattled by back-to-back losses
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 7:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 7:58 p.m.
TORONTO — Warriors coach Mark Jackson joined point guard Stephen Curry in a post-practice shooting session Sunday. And as they drained jumper after jumper, Jackson brought a smile to Curry's face by describing what was happening.
“It's such a beautiful thing,” Jackson said, “two pure shooters just getting up shots together. Beautiful.”
The fan base, and maybe even some players, might be getting nervous after Golden State dropped two straight games to beatable teams. But Jackson went the extra mile to show he wasn't too worried. He made Sunday's practice optional. And when most of the players showed up, he kept the mood light.
Better believe it's calculated, the ploy of a coach building a reputation for getting the most out of his roster.
“People don't realize. I've still got to do that,” Jackson said. “We're not going to overreact, because we know who we are. Looking at the big picture, we lost two games on the road and we've got two left.”
Jackson received high praise last season for getting a roster loaded with rookies, journeymen and NBA Development League call-ups to play hard. But perhaps what he's been able to pull off this season is more impressive.
He's down two key players, he has three rookies in his rotation, his most productive lineup consists of three guards and two forwards, and his best players are B-list stars.
Yet, the Warriors have done so well that consecutive road losses in January — to Chicago and Milwaukee — look more like the beginning of the end.
“We have to realize what we have to do to get it back,” Jackson said. “We've got a group of guys who understand who we are. ... We have a team that has a history of bouncing back. We'll do that. But at the same time, it's my job as a coach to basically bring it out of guys.”
Jackson has said his team isn't as good as many think it is and not as bad people expect it to be. That in-between stage requires plenty manipulation and maneuvering.
He has had to pull out all the stops this year, making the most of what he has. And that is especially true now.
In Jackson's two seasons as coach, this is the first time the Warriors are being the hunted. With nine games left before the All-Star break, six of them on the road, the Warriors are jockeying for seeding instead of trying to convince themselves they're still in it.
But Golden State's rookies — Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green — appear to be hitting the wall, or at least struggling now that the league is figuring them out. Second-year guard Klay Thompson is finding consistency elusive. And playing so many minutes at center seems to be catching up with All-Star forward David Lee.
Jackson has a worthy challenge on his hands — getting his guys to silence the doubters and live up to suddenly raised expectations. He'll assuredly dig up a few Muhammad Ali stories to fire up his guys, a few sermons to give them perspective and some straight talk to keep them humble.
“He's a guy that's always in there talking to us, trying to level with us,” Curry said. “Some coaches don't have that type of relationship with their players. But he's always around.”
Curry has been invited to participate in the 3-Point Shootout during All-Star Weekend. Curry, widely considered a snub when he wasn't selected by coaches to be an All-Star reserve, said he is mulling whether he wants to commit to just one event.
“That's a big commitment,” Curry said.
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