Newark, N.J. – The Golden State Warriors were supposed to be more than just paper good. That’s when you write down the names of players and judge how that team will perform. In Golden State’s case, those names are Stephen Curry, David Lee and Monta Ellis. The performance prediction was the playoffs.

That outlook looks bleak though. The Warriors have instead dug themselves a 30-38 record, seven wins behind eighth place Memphis with 14 games remaining.

“We started out hot,” said Curry. “We started out with a lot of enthusiasm and motivation to play well. We went through some injuries and rough patches and have been fighting ever since.”

Lee’s injury was perhaps the most damaging to the Warriors’ season. Their 6-foot-9 forward/center missed two weeks after former New York Knicks forward Wilson Chandler accidentally hit his teeth on Lee’s elbow. The team went 1-7 during that stretch.

“We play hard every night and compete,” said Ellis. “It’s just pretty much not falling our way.”

Youth is also a factor. The average age of their core, which also includes forward Dorell Wright, is under 25. However, that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of experience. Wright, Ellis and Lee have at least six years with the league. It’s more so the newness of being on the floor together – only Ellis and Curry were teammates last year.

Coach Keith Smart says maturity will help in several areas, including getting victories on the road, where the Warriors are just 9-24.

“Young players and young teams show they can play at home,” said Smart. “On the road, it’s a different environment. You need a different mentality. The next step is developing that mentality to play on the road and win in tough environments.”

Smart is in his first year as the Warriors coach. They’ve already improved on last year’s 26-56 record in his system. The process of developing a team with promising prospects – the foursome each averages around 16 points a game -- into an elite team takes time though. The players know this, even if they’d rather avoid that route.

“We have a lot of young players who are learning to be consistent night in, night out, including myself,” said Curry. “We need to continue to learn the game and what is winning basketball. We’ll get there. It’s just painful to get to that process to get to that point.”

Foreign Intelligence


Houston Rockets guard Luis Scola's (Argentina) streak of 311 consecutive games played ended on March 7 due to an ankle injury. Scola’s stretch began the first time he stepped on the floor as a rookie...The Cleveland Cavaliers couldn't squeeze out a win on March 8 against the Warriors. That was unfortunate because it was Anderson Varejao (Brazil) bobblehead night...Sacramento Kings center Samuel Dalambert (Haiti) scored a career-high 27 points against the Warriors on March 14...Houston Rockets center Yao Ming (China) has appeared in only five games over the last two seasons. He’s coming up on free agency, but says his desire is to stay in Houston…Oklahoma City Thunder center Serge Ibaka (Congo) swatted away 15 shots in back-to-back games on March 13-14...Tony Parker (France) picked up Western Conference Player of the Week honors for games played starting March 7. The San Antonio Spurs guard averaged 23.7 points and 6.3 assists during that span...Cavaliers rookie forward Samardo Samuels (Jamaica) has started every game in March. He's been making the most of the opportunity, averaging over 10 points and eight rebounds since...Miami Heat center Zydrunas Ilgauskas (Lithuania) told reporters he's likely to retire after the season...The Toronto Raptors assigned rookie center Solomon Alabi (Nigeria) to the Erie Bayhawks of the NBA D-League...The Boston Celtics have been using Carlos Arroyo (Puerto Rico) as the primary backup point guard to Rajon Rondo...Celtics center Nenad Krstic said he is much happier in Boston than in Oklahoma City. The seven-year veteran feels this is his best shot yet at a championship.

Fire & Ice


Fire:
Kevin Love: There's no doubt Love would be in the MVP conversation if his Minnesota Timberwolves weren’t 17-51. His 53-game double-double streak came to an end on Sunday. During that stretch, Love averaged 21.8 points and 16.5 rebounds a night.

New Jersey Nets: The new-look Nets’ five-game win streak – their longest since the 2007-08 season -- is the second best going in the league behind Chicago (7). One of those streaks will come to an end on Thursday when the two teams square off. Also, Monday’s victory over the Boston Celtics was no doubt New Jersey’s biggest in two years.

Chicago Bulls: Speaking of the Bulls, they moved into sole possession of first place in the East with a win over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday. Boston pulled back into a tie with Wednesday's victory over Indiana. Chicago’s won 10 of their last 11 games, and nine of their remaining 16 games are against teams with sub-.500 records.

Ice:
Rajon Rondo: The player in charge of running the Celtics offense has struggled over his last six games, failing to reach double-digit assist numbers and scoring six points or less in four of those. In back-to-back games earlier this week, Rondo shot just 2-for-19 from the field.

New York Knicks: Whereas their crosstown rivals are hotter than the city’s sidewalks in the summer, the Knicks are floundering. They’ve lost three straight, including a home-and-away series to the Indiana Pacers, who hold the final playoff spot in the East.

Blake Griffin: The All-Star center for the Los Angeles Clippers scored a career-low eight points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field on March 14 against the Memphis Grizzlies. Griffin hasn’t registered double-digit rebounds in five straight.

NBA StatsCube Cruncher


13 - The number of losses the 16-50 Sacramento Kings have by four points or less, which leads the NBA. The Houston Rockets trail the Kings by two, while five teams have 10 losses by that minute margin. (StatsCube Index)

Video Peak


Twitter Talk


”Not sure if theres anythin cooler than meetin the Prez http://bo.st/dIKDOq (View)
Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) on March 14 after meeting the President at a Museum of Fine Arts fundraiser.

“Bad loss tonight but that nothing compared to what’s happening in Japan right now! God Bless them!” (View)
Andrew Bynum (@andrewbynum) on March 11 after learning about Japan’s devastating earthquake.

“Trail Blazers Raise $15,000 for Japan Tsunami Relief: In an incredible display of community support, fans attend... http://bit.ly/g17IMR (View)
Portland Trail Blazers (@pdxtrailblazers) on March 15 after raising money for the earthquake victims in Japan.
For the latest NBA updates throughout season, you can follow Scott on Twitter (@ScottStanchak).