So Mark Jackson was going to prove a point. It was a sad point, the kind of thing you cling to when everything else is already lost, like a farmer refusing to take a subsidy even after all the soybeans have died.
The Golden State Warriors, who Jackson coaches, trailed by 26 points late in the fourth quarter in Houston on Tuesday. The Rockets had made 23 3-pointers, which tied an NBA record and the crowd was chanting “One more 3! One more 3!”
The Rockets were going to try to give them one.
This is when Jackson and the Warriors dug deep and found that pride they hadn’t been able to summon for the previous 47 minutes. Draymond Green clotheslined Patrick Beverly as he spotted up in the corner. Green was ejected. Houston’s Marcus Morris also was ejected for whatever he did in the little scrum that resulted. Jackson and Rockets coach Kevin McHale had words at midcourt, and then the Warriors started intentionally fouling the Rockets so they couldn’t put up another 3.
“I’m an old-school basketball player,” said Jackson after the 140-109 loss. “I’m an old-school coach. If you can’t appreciate that, that’s on you.”
So he proved his point, which was something like, “Hey, you might tie an NBA record on me, but I’ll be deep in the cold ground before you break an NBA record on me.”
So the Rockets had to settle for sharing the record with the Orlando Magic, who went 23-for-37 in a game in 2009. Like the Magic, nine different Rockets made 3s, led by Jeremy Lin’s five, and finished 23 of 40 from behind the arc.
Ahead 30, the Rockets were still attempting 3s, and if the Warriors want to do whatever it takes to make sure they aren’t the ones on the wrong end of an NBA record, fine. This is professional basketball. Nobody feels sorry for the Warriors because they got their butts kicked, and nobody feels sorry for the Rockets that they didn’t get the record.
But Jackson said he’s an “old-school coach?” What does that mean? Where was this old-school attitude while giving up 23 3-pointers? But 24 was just taking it too far? Who else attended this school? When was it shut down?
Guess that means Kevin McHale is from the new school? Kevin freaking McHale.
Save the tough-guy posturing for something less petty.
Better yet, Jackson needs to have the self-awareness to avoid calling himself an old-school coach on a night his team gave up 140 points.
In the interest of fairness, it does deserve mention that this is the sort of thing Houston will do from time to time. Twenty-three was extraordinary, of course, but this is Houston’s game.
The Rockets have ranked at or near the top of the NBA in pace and scoring all season, and only have two rotation players who aren’t a 3-point threat. This is the youngest team in the NBA, and its roster happens to include James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Lin, Carlos Delfino, Toney Douglas and Morris.
These guys are going to get up and down, and they’re going to get some shots up.
“We shoot a lot of 3s,” said McHale, who added he had no problem with what the Warriors did. “That’s just what we do.”
Everyone in the NBA knows this, and the Warriors learned it the hard way. The good news for the Warriors, and the good name of old-school coaches everywhere, is that Golden State plays Houston again Feb. 12.
Maybe that time the Warriors will summon the old-school grit to defend the 3-point line for 48 minutes instead of 35 seconds.