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Late-season surge helps Smart make case for retaining job

The Sports Xchange
Late-season surge helps Smart make case for retaining job · Notes, Quotes · Roster Report

Joe Lacob's decision is getting tougher by the day.

For months, it's pretty much been a foregone conclusion that Keith Smart would not return as the Warriors' coach next season.

After all, he had been picked to run the team on previous owner Chris Cohan's watch, and for five months, the results were less than stellar.

But boy how things have changed.

Long eliminated from the postseason chase, the Warriors have looked like a playoff team the past week, beating the Mavericks, Trail Blazers and Lakers over an amazing five-day stretch.

All of a sudden, you have to ask: Is it possible Smart has accomplished his No. 1 priority -- getting the Warriors to make a smooth transition away from Don Nelson-style basketball in his first year at the helm?

Nelson won his fair share of games with the Warriors, but few in the style the Warriors have used the last three games. Golden State's opponents have averaged fewer than 90 points in those contests, a remarkable feat when you consider the level of the competition.

Bottom line: The Warriors will finish with a losing record, and Smart isn't the type of big-name coach a new ownership that's just invested $450 million in the team might want at the end of its bench.

But three more impressive efforts -- the Warriors finish at home against Sacramento, at Denver and at home against Portland -- and that might not matter.

WARRIORS 95, LAKERS 87: San Francisco Bay Area sports fans haven't celebrated many championships in the past two decades, so they've had to find pleasure in other accomplishments. No doubt, one has been crushing the dreams of Los Angeles teams. The Warriors added to that list of "Beat L.A." feats Wednesday night, officially eliminating the Lakers from the race for the top record in the Western Conference. A sellout crowd more than 500 over Oracle Arena's listed capacity participated in what had to be the club's most memorable night of the season.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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