The Full Monty: Defense fuels Warriors in Game 2 after Pelicans coach ignites crowd 

click to enlarge It wasn’t hard to get the loud Warriors crowd into Game 2 Monday, especially after Andrew Bogut’s second-half slam. - MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ/AP
  • Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
  • It wasn’t hard to get the loud Warriors crowd into Game 2 Monday, especially after Andrew Bogut’s second-half slam.

OAKLAND — This wasn't just any rookie playoff mistake, the view voiced by the New Orleans coach that crowd-noise levels at Oracle Arena should be investigated by the competition committee. This was The Full Monty, as in Monty Williams, who made one of the dumber and more needlessly inflammable comments ever uttered before an NBA postseason game.

Let's just invite basketball's loudest mosh pit to go thermonuclear, huh?

Which, of course, was the predictable result when the Warriors, after early turnovers and misfires and more sluggishness belying a spectacular regular season, held Anthony Davis scoreless in the fourth quarter and the Pelicans to nine second-half field goals in a 97-87 pull-away victory in Game 2 of what we'll call the "Earacle Conspiracy." The most important takeaway is that the Warriors returned from a 13-point hole with stifling, attacking defense — again — and not the freewheeling offense for which they're nationally known. People don't get it when we say Stephen Curry is the MVP of the league and Draymond Green is the MVP of the Warriors. Now, maybe they will, having watched Green bring the swagger and defensive clampdown on a less-than-phenomenal Davis.

"We feel like that's the identity of our team — our defense, our intensity at the end," coach Steve Kerr said. "The defense carried the day."

Davis wasn't as impressed. "We know we can beat this team," he said, producing instant bulletin-board fodder after shooting 2 for 9 in the second half and 0 for 5 in the fourth quarter. "We were right there. They made shots. We didn't."

The second-most important takeaway: Klay Thompson changed shoes in the first half to a new pair of Antas — he reportedly has had periodic issues with the Chinese shoe company — and finally found his shooting touch in the second half en route to 26 points, vital when Curry struggled with his shot for long stretches. "I wasn't trying to force anything. I was just trying to get a great shot and do what I do best," Thompson said. Don't forget the energy and contributions of reserves who will be needed if a trophy parade is happening on the Bay Bridge — Leandro Barbosa, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Mo Speights.

"They changed the game when they came in," said Curry, who hit only nine of 21 shots and missed six of nine 3-point attempts. "In the playoffs, everyone has to be up to the task. That's why we're so good, because we're such a well-balanced team."

But we know what the water-cooler conversation was: Someone with a better sense of humor than Williams left a batch of earplugs on the scorers' table for the Pelicans, who have been exposed to national jokes thanks to their coach.

"I'm not so sure the decibel level is legal, and I'm serious," said Williams, who, I repeat, said he was serious when he spoke Monday morning. "They've done studies on that. For the competition committee, there's got to be something to that because it does get a little out of hand."

That would be the same competition committee that includes Joe Lacob, the Warriors' owner, as one of its 10 members. If "studies" have been "done" on dirty-dealing decibels at Roaracle, you think Lacob still would be on the committee? Williams later claimed it was a tongue-in-cheek "compliment" that wasn't intended to doubt the Warriors' integrity or insinuate they are pumping in fake noise, something the late Al Davis might have done next door. By then, after his foolishness had resonated through the Bay Area all afternoon, the task was made even more difficult for his Waterbirds With Long Bills And Throat Pouches. Even if he somehow was innocent in this, it was something he never should have said. Had he done his homework, Williams would have realized the arena, which opened in 1966, is an intimate concrete bowl built before the suites-and-greed era. Van Halen used to produce videos here because of the booming acoustics, including "Unchained."

If the Warriors were more interested in sending messages than winning a championship, they'd have blasted those guitar riffs and David Lee Roth shrieks over the speakers as the Pelicans took the court. Instead, they relied on the usual noise, 19,596 strong. "WARR-IORS! WARR-IORS! WARR-IORS!" the fans chanted during the player introductions, over and over, louder than Saturday. They continued throughout the night, even as the Dubs struggled.

"Sporadic," Kerr said of his team's overall performance, curious why the energy and focus waned at times. "We need to put together four quarters."

The Pelicans couldn't capitalize, maybe because the crowd helped break them down as much as Green and Andrew Bogut broke down Davis. Lesson for Williams: When entering a den of raucousness, do not say anything about the fans to make the scene more raucous. Nor should he propagate, without the slightest substantiation, that the league has probed the Warriors for illegal decibel levels. He tried to backpedal before the game and suggest that his words were amplified beyond their intended meaning in a media-intensive postseason. "It's all crowd noise. They've got 20,000 people here. I'm sure everything they generate is authentic," he said before the game. Then he doubted whether his remarks would impact the arena atmosphere, saying, "They've got some of the best fans in the league, so I don't know if you can add any more fuel to the fire. If I'm the lightning rod, it's a messed-up world."

Guess it's a messed-up world, Monty.

"I'm just going to make an appeal to our fans to be as quiet as possible. It's the least we can do," said Kerr, using his dry wit before the game to swat this softball back to the French Quarter. "I've never heard that before. There's not any noise being pumped in. That's illegal, I know that. I know the NBA likes to control a lot of things, but I don't think they can control how loud the fans yell.

"This is a great place to play. I've felt that way for the last 20 years. When I was a player, you'd come in here and feel the energy. It's a loud building. It's fun, especially if you're the home team."

In the end, this was more about Draymond Green than Monty Williams. "He's going to defend at a high level, no matter the matchup," Curry said of his frenetic teammate. "He's going to get the crowd into it, and he springs some life into us. He always finds a way to be in the mix. There's no teaching that."

On a night of lessons, the Warriors stuck with the tried and true. They know better than to blabber away games before they even start.

Jay Mariotti is sports director and lead sports columnist at The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at jmariotti@sfexaminer.com. Read his website at jaymariotti.com.

About The Author

Jay Mariotti

Jay Mariotti

Bio:
Jay Mariotti is sports director and lead sports columnist at the San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at jmariotti@sfexaminer.com. Read his website at jaymariotti.com.
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