Programming note: Warriors-Mavericks coverage tips off Tuesday at 5 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area Plus
OAKLAND – Andre Iguodala stood in a somber locker room Sunday night, inhaled deeply, and delivered a message to his teammates and his coach and to Warriors fans battling their latest round of restlessness.
He wants those who laugh and cry with Warriors ups and downs to understand they're still creeping up the growth chart – with plenty of room to improve.
That is why, he believes, coach Mark Jackson did not bother calling a timeout as the Knicks were dismantling the Warriors late in the second quarter Sunday night.
"It's part of growing together,'' Iguodala told me. "It's not one group or another group or one person. It's just a team coming together, seeing our mistakes on our own, as basketball players, and not allowing coaches sometimes to point it out to you. You always look at Phil Jackson and you say why he never called timeout. That was his thing. 'Oh, he's not going to call timeout. He's going to make them fight through it.'
"I'm not trying to compare the two. But it was the maturity of the players. He wanted them to grow up. So we've got to grow up.''
That second quarter, during which the Knicks outscored the Warriors, 34-12, changed the complexion of the game. A 10-point Warriors lead became a 12-point halftime deficit, and 24 minutes later, a five-point loss that prompted grumbling from thousands as they exited Oracle Arena.
Iguodala, soft spoken but perceptive, also understands why observers might be puzzled by Jackson's inaction and fans furious with it.
"If you watch us play a lot, you will see that sometimes when we have those stretches where in the second quarter things got out of whack a little bit, he'll call timeout right away and we'll get it fixed,'' Iguodala said.
"But after so many times of that happening, you have to say, 'Hey, you guys have to figure this out, because this is happening too much. You guys need to be aware of that.' Hopefully, he sent the message: 'I'm not going to continue to bail you guys out, because when we get into a playoff situation, we can't have these stretches. You guys are going to have to figure out.' If we don't score on two or three possessions, how do you bounce back real quick? What can we do to right the momentum?''
Iguodala pointed out how carefully San Antonio treats every possession. Such meticulousness takes time and the building of proper habits.
In short, he is saying the Warriors aren't there yet. They're not what we're accustomed to – a stranger to the playoffs, firing coaches on a nearly annual basis – but they're not yet what they should become.
He is precisely on point.