Nelson's Curious Lineups Make Things Tough on Anthony Randolph
Besides the fact that Nash had more assists than the entire Warriors team did, there was something else that was interesting about this one, and that was the way that Don Nelson chose to use - or not use -- one of his most athletic players in Anthony Randolph.
In Golden State's season opener, Randolph came off the bench and was allowed to play just 10 minutes. He had eight points, four rebounds, an assist, and a blocked shot in that brief appearance, but stiffness in his back was blamed for his limited time on the court.
On Friday in Phoenix, given the way things played out, it would be hard to use Randolph's health as a reason for Don Nelson's curious use of him against the Suns.
Randolph was in the starting lineup, and played the game's first seven minutes. He managed four points, two rebounds, an assist, and a blocked shot. Again, fairly productive.
But Randolph didn't see the court the entire second quarter.
This is a classic example of Don Nelson just subbing guys in and out seemingly at random, with no rhyme or reason, and no consistency for his players to rely on as they try to build that all-important team chemistry.
"It's been like that since I've been here," Stephen Jackson said afterwards, when asked about the lineups varying so greatly from night to night. "I mean, we've never had a solid lineup. But coach makes that decision, he feels confident with the guys he puts out there, and I think as a team we've got to find a way to get the job done.
"The chemistry that we used to have, it's not even close [to what we have now]," Jackson continued. "But I think it's up to the coaches to figure out which guys to have out there to get that chemistry back."
Nelson made it clear that the lineups were his decision, but refused to explain the method to his madness. When asked to talk about how he chose to use Randolph on Friday (more on that in a moment), the tenured head coach simply wouldn't discuss it.
"No," Nelson responded. "I put 'em in, and they come out when I take 'em out."
If anything is clear in Golden State, it's that statement right there.
After sitting for 17 consecutive minutes of game time, Randolph was back in the lineup to start the third quarter, and managed to stay in there for a whopping five and a half minutes. He did get a couple of rebounds and a trip to the free throw line, but was far less engaged overall than he was to start the game.
Can you blame him?
Nelson wasn't finished messing around, and had one more trick up his sleeve: he reinserted Randolph to start the fourth quarter -- with the Warriors down by 19 points -- and left him in there for the entire period, while the Suns' lead ballooned to as many as 27 points.
Just a very strange way to manage the game, and an even stranger way to treat one of your most talented players who was, you know, a member of the game's starting lineup.
But as Randolph sat visibly dejected in front of his locker afterwards, he took the high road when asked about the difficulty of playing in such an uncertain situation.
"I've got to come in ready to play, whenever he puts me in there," Randolph said. "I'm just trying to get out there and prove myself to him."
It would be great to see Randolph do exactly that -- if only Nelson would give him a legitimate chance.