The Warriors evinced signs of life after Lanier took over, beginning with a stirring 139-128 overtime defeat of the Suns last Friday in Phoenix. The next day Golden State sent Gugliotta to the Timber-wolves for rookie forward Donyell Marshall, the fourth pick of last June's draft. The athletic Marshall seems a better fit for the Warriors' open-court style than Gugliotta, who never appeared comfortable with Golden State.
But Lanier's chances of returning as the Warriors' permanent coach will depend less on which players he puts on the court than on how hard he gets them to perform. "It's my job to get this team to play with passion for the game," he says. Of course, Lanier can fall back on the intimidation factor. And any lethargic Warrior is likely to find out how dangerous it is to stare directly up into the Eclipse.
There are rumblings in Detroit that Piston rookie forward Grant Hill is—you may want to sit down for this—not perfect. Hill received some gentle criticism when he received permission to skip a Piston practice on Feb. 13 to fly from the All-Star Game in Phoenix to New York for appearances on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman and ESPN's ESPY awards show. He added to the stir when he told Letterman that he would want to play for his father, Calvin, if the older Hill ever bought an NBA franchise. Calvin was part of a group that tried unsuccessfully to buy the Bullets two years ago.
These are not exactly major offenses; in fact, they're not even minor ones. But Hill had so unfailingly said and done precisely the right thing for so long that even the hint of a misstep raised eyebrows.
So far it seems that Hill, the leading vote getter in the All-Star balloting, has only one major flaw: an inability to say no to the many requests for his time. "It seems like everybody wanted me to do something at the same time," he says. "But with the All-Star Game over, it'll definitely slow down." As for his comments to Letterman about playing for Calvin, Grant says that Piston fans need not worry. "He's not going to buy a team," Grant says. "But Dave asked the question, and I sort of ran with it."
And if you're wondering whether Hill found it hard to concentrate on basketball alter that whirlwind weekend, the answer is no. He woke up at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday to catch a flight from New York back to Detroit for a morning shootaround, then made 11 straight shots and scored 25 points in a 106-94 victory over the Knicks that night. But later in the week there was evidence that the pressure of having his every action and utterance dissected finally was wearing on him. In two games (both Piston losses), Hill, who through Sunday was averaging 18.2 points, scored only 12 at Chicago and 10 at Charlotte.
Line of the Week
Trail Blazer center Chris Dudley, Feb. 14 against the Mavericks: 2-8 FG, 6-6 FT, 10 points. A perfect night from the free throw line is a rare occurrence for Dudley, the worst foul shooter in league history (minimum: 900 attempts) and a man whose previous best perfect game at the line was a 5-for-5 performance in 1990. He entered this season, his eighth in the NBA, having made 45.6% from the line and was at 49.6% for the season through Sunday. But the Yale graduate has been working hard on his foul shooting after practice with Blazer assistant coach Johnny Davis, and it's paying off: On Friday he made all four of his foul shots against the Sonics, and through Sunday he had made 20 of his last 26 (76.9%).