The fact that Golden State was able to beat the Miami Heat on Monday was a surprise in and of itself. The fact that the Warriors were able to outscore the Heat 24-12 in the fourth quarter and win in overtime all without star guard Stephen Curry made the story even more unbelievable.
Curry has been out with an ankle injury and his status is a bit up in the air. Coach Mark Jackson says the team won’t be rushing him back, but that his team can’t be making excuses in the interim. Monday night’s victory should help his argument there as Nate Robinson and the Warriors got the job done against of the league’s best teams.
Mark Jackson joined 95.7 The Game in San Francisco on The Drive to discuss Nate Robinson”s big game, why he was added to the roster, settling into the coaching role, the culture change with the Warriors, defensive consistency and why the team can’t make excuses even without Curry.
Nate Robinson had 24 points in the victory over the Heat the other night. What did you see from him?:
“Well, he’s a high-energy, special talent. He’s a guy that can score and score in bunches. The thing I love about him, he plays with an edge. A lot of times, even watching him in the past … he’s a guy whose energy and effort becomes contagious and really makes a difference. He gave us a great boost off the bench and he plays with a chip on his shoulder, too.”
Beyond that, why was it that you wanted Nate Robinson on the team?:
“I like the fact that he’s been questioned as a professional. He’s been questioned as far as his talent level. There’s no reason that a guy like him should’ve been at home this late in the season. People had question marks as far as how serious he took the game and I had conversations with him, had conversations with his agent … and everybody, to a man, said he was a great guy. … I just thought it’d be a great opportunity to give him a second chance to resurrect his career. Give him credit, he has taken it and ran with it and it’s been great for us.”
We always talk about players getting experience and then the game slowing down for them. Is there a process like that when you’re a coach?:
“I wouldn’t say that. I’m a guy that prepared for the moment and, more importantly, put an incredible staff around me that I have great confidence in that has made life easier for me. And I always thought the game, so I humbly submit that it was always a slow game for me and my speed didn’t help me at all.”
Now that we’re nine games into the season, how do you view the culture change at this point?:
“I’m very pleased with the culture, the locker room, the professionalism, on the court, the practice, the energy effort. I’ve got a group of guys that have bought into everything I’ve asked them to do. Now it’s about getting results. There’s nothing like getting results to put a stamp on what you’re trying to preach. Nights like [Monday] really speed up our growth.”
Do you see stretches, though, where they maybe aren’t playing with consistent energy on defense?:
“I’d like to invite you to come to a film session. My data speaks something totally different. We’ve played games that we should’ve won against the Spurs in San Antonio. The Lakers, Kobe was spectacular single-handedly, but Andrew Bynum, who has been dominating the league, had a tough night against us. … If Steph Curry doesn’t get hurt, [the San Antonio game] is a game we felt like we would’ve won. Steve Nash is one guy that hurt us in the fourth quarter in Phoenix, via pick and roll and finding guys. But I know for a fact our defense has been exceptional. We have not closed out games.”
How concerned are you about Curry’s injury at this point?:
“First and foremost, we want him to get healthy and be healthy. We’re not going to rush him back. Secondly, we’re a no-excuse basketball team. If Steph Curry’s not able to play, we’re going to continue to do what we expect to do, and that’s be very successful and find a way to get it done. … The bottom line is that we’re more than capable to go out and do the job. … It’d be easy for me to say, ‘Let’s fold the tent because Steph’s not here.’ At the end of the day, we have some guys that’s capable. Without Steph Curry, we held the Miami Heat to 12 points in the fourth quarter. Without Steph Curry, we climbed back into the game and got a big win. So there’s no excuse.”