Daydream Believers

In the middle of another catastrophic season, the Golden State Warriors refuse to face the probability that they're as bad as they seem

The Warriors were slaughtered.

The always-flashy Kings buried them in a wave of no-look passes, give-and-go exchanges, and alley-oop dunks. Jamison managed to score 18 points and grab six boards, but he couldn't stop Webber from scoring. The former Warrior poured in 28 points in just 33 minutes, and provided a few friendly reminders about the All Star snub. Those weren't limited to on-court trash talk (or "smack," to use Jamison's term). In the second half, Webber appeared, larger than life, on the arena's Jumbotron video screen, thanking the packed house for voting him into the All Star game.

At one point, the score was 100-64.

Star forward Antawn Jamison (33) can't clear Clippers center Michael Olowokandi during a recent game.
Paul Trapani
Star forward Antawn Jamison (33) can't clear Clippers center Michael Olowokandi during a recent game.
Star forward Antawn Jamison (33) can't clear Clippers center Michael Olowokandi during a recent game.
Paul Trapani
Star forward Antawn Jamison (33) can't clear Clippers center Michael Olowokandi during a recent game.
Backup center Adonal Foyle.
Paul Trapani
Backup center Adonal Foyle.
Guard Larry Hughes' injured thumb has forced him to watch nine games in street clothes.
Paul Trapani
Guard Larry Hughes' injured thumb has forced him to watch nine games in street clothes.

This is what Cowens, who usually starts his post-game news conferences with a rambling address based loosely on the final stat sheet, offered after this one:

"I've got nothing to say."

In the locker room, Jamison -- who drove his car to the game and therefore wasn't in the same rush to run for the team bus as his teammates -- got to relive both the snub and the slaughter for the benefit of newspaper reporters.

Antawn, do you feel you should be representing the Western Conference in the All Star game?

Antawn, why do the Warriors have so much trouble playing the Kings here?

Antawn, what happened ...

When Jamison got to the Arco Arena parking lot, the temperature had dipped enough for each of his breaths to be visible, and the parking lot lights gleamed off his shaved head.

Tough one today, Antawn?

"Undermanned," he said, grinning wistfully as he shook his head. "Injuries, injuries, injuries. All year long. Two years in a row. The same thing.

"Damn."


As bad as the Warriors have been during the past seven years, one Pacific Division team has been worse: the Los Angeles Clippers. During that stretch, the Clippers have finished last five times; the Warriors have finished last twice, with five second-to-last finishes to their credit.

But, this season, both teams generated a lot of hype about finally climbing out of the cellar. The Clippers' optimism was inspired, mostly, by young star Lamar Odom, a gifted, versatile forward; the raw-but-promising center Michael Olowokandi; and the athletic young twentysomethings Corey Maggette, Darius Miles, and Kenyon Dooling, who -- if they ever learn to shoot -- could be stars.

Sound familiar?

So, on Feb. 7, it surprised none in the crowd of 13,347 when the Warriors (14-33) and Clippers (16-34) played like mirror images in a game that was, despite 21 lead changes and 13 ties, truly difficult to watch, replete with poor shooting, terrible decision-making, and a preponderance of tall, awkward bodies strangely falling all over one another throughout the game.

Either team could have won easily by merely making a reasonable percentage of free throws. (The Warriors shot an abysmal 58 percent; the Clips -- not to be underdone -- shot 46.) Late in the fourth quarter, both squads all but jumped through hoops in a mad dash to lose.

The Warriors, who led by three with 5.7 seconds left, went first. The Clippers have only one reliable three-point shooter, and therefore only one player likely to tie the game in less than six seconds. You wouldn't think that a single, sharp cut from the corner to the top of the three-point arc would be enough to leave that player in the clear. But of course it was, and Eric Piatkowski easily stroked the jump shot, tying the game and leaving the Warriors only 3.2 seconds to spare the fans overtime.

It was a moment that had nothing to do with being undermanned or overmatched. Rather, it had everything to do with being dumb. "It's very simple instructions," Cowens said after the game. "When you're up by three, you don't give anybody -- especially that guy -- an open three."

Luckily, the Clippers are even better at losing games than are the Warriors. Odom, who had outplayed Jamison for most of the night, fouled an off-balance Sura on the left baseline with 0.7 seconds remaining, putting Sura on the free-throw line, where he made one of two shots and won the game. Golden State had been out-Warriored.

The victory improved the Warriors' winning percentage to .313, nearly catching them up to the Clippers (.320) heading into the All Star break.

"That team," Foyle said of the Clippers, "is very, very good. They're young, they're getting better.

"They're really a lot like us."

Really, they are.

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