The Warriors are headed to history not in a full sprint, but with a slight limp and some heavy breathing.
Could that have been any more obvious on Monday?
The road Warriors outlasted the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 109-104 victory that had “nine games in 14 days” written all over it. They did it without Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala and Festus Ezeli, three of their top eight players. They also did it with rubber-legged Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson at less than their best again, shooting 11 of 31 from the field between them. It’s crazy to think this team still hasn’t lost more than one game in a row this season.
Meanwhile, two days after their emotional victory over the Warriors at home, the San Antonio Spurs blew a 23-point leade against the Hornets in Charlotte.
“Big credit to our bench — Mo Speights, Ian Clark, Leandro Barbosa, Shaun Livingston,” Draymond Green said. “Those guys came off the bench and really, really, really gave us a lift. Everything they did is why we won this game. … Our starting five, we really didn’t get it done.”
The Warriors reduced their magic number to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference to nine, and it can’t come quickly enough. Green and the Splash Brothers could use a break in advance of the second season. The sooner the Spurs are put in their rear-view mirror, the quicker they’ll get it.
NOTHING JOLLY HERE: Even if embattled Cal coach Cuonzo Martin did his due diligence in the sexual harassment case of a hand-picked assistant, he may not not survive the ordeal. Top prospect Tyson Jolly has already asked for his release from the university to pursue other opportunities. Expect more recruits to avoid Berkeley like jock itch in the near future.
“Family reasons and coach Yanni [Hufnagel] got fired,” Jolly told Scout.com of the reasons for his request, which should be granted this week. “He was the coach I was real close to in the program. He worked hard for me to stay into the school. There’s a lot going on there.”
One year after the golden age of Golden Bears basketball was supposed to begin, the future couldn’t be much bleaker. Unless Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb can be convinced to forego the NBA draft — a 60-foot prayer at best — Cal will have seniors Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews and not much else next season. Better to blow up the Brown era and start over again.
AMERICA’S QUARTERBACK? Jared Goff says he won’t mind if the 49ers draft him next month, but what is well-mannered, Cal-schooled kid supposed to say? If I’m the Niners, I don’t pick me because no way in hell do I want to play for those idiots!
If Goff is lucky, then he’ll be a Dallas Cowboy before long.
Publicly, Cowboys bossman Jerry Jones says the Cowboys are quite content to have 35-year-old Tony Romo at the position. Don’t buy it. Romo is closer to 40 in football years, and his career is on borrowed time. Last season, the Boys learned firsthand what happens to teams that don’t have a backup plan at the position. Balls makes it even money they draft Goff or Carson Wentz at the No. 4 pick or higher in Round 1.
Granted, Jones has been known to do some goofy with his team at times. But unlike a certain Santa Clara team, the guy wants to win at all costs. Put Goff with that franchise, in that market, and the kid could become a star one day.
KAP PROBLEM: Goff to Santa Clara may be a moot point, what with the Niners stuck with Colin Kaepernick at least for now. That probably explains why coach Chip Kelly slobbered over Kaepernick in public the other day.
The Cleveland Browns had expressed interest in Kapernick and vice-versa, but that was before general manager Trent Baalke scared them off with excessive trade demands.
“Not actively engaged with San Francisco and at this point don’t anticipate being actively engaged with San Francisco,” Browns operations chief Sashi Brown said on Monday. “Had some very preliminary discussions, and it didn’t go much further than that.”
Yeah, because Clueless Trent reportedly held out for a second-round draft pick in return for a washed-up QB with lots of problems, healthy and otherwise.
Now the Browns say they’ll look into free agent Robert Griffin III. Presumably, Bernie Kosar would be next.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Giants money pitcher Jeff Samardzija was lit up for six runs and two homers and uncorked a pair of wild pitches in a loss against the Athletics on Monday. But it’s only the Cactus League, so who’s counting, right?
“You look at it as a whole and that was exactly what we wanted out there,” Samardzija said after he became the first Giant to pitch six innings this spring.
Maybe so. Nonetheless, it might be a good idea for Samardzija to flip the switch when the real season begins two weeks from now.
Samardzija was badder than bad with the Chicago White Sox a year ago. No American League pitcher allowed more hits, home runs and earned runs. A good first impression at 24 Willie Mays Plaza could do wonders for his confidence, not to mention ward off the wolves who questioned the sanity of his $90-million contract.
TANK YOU VERY MUCH: While Balls is on the subject of Sharks, they’re on a collision course with the Anaheim Ducks in round one of the playoffs, which is kinda bad and kinda good. While the Ducks have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL for months, they’re known to gag almost as much as the Sharks in the playoffs.
At it stands, the Ducks are one point ahead of the Sharks in the race for second place in the Pacific Division and the home-ice advantage that goes with it. They’ve played one fewer game. If the Sharks know what’s good for them, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Seriously, can this team be trusted in a win-or-else situation at the SAP Center? Meanwhile, the Ducks have lost a Game 7 in each of the last three postseasons.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE … Gary (Bull) Croteau?
Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to email@example.com, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.