OAKLAND -- The Golden State Warriors picked a lousy time to revert to their past ways at the free-throw line.
Just last week, Golden State's free-throw shooting for the season was hovering barely above the 75 percent mark, a plateau they've bested only once in the past 11 years.
But despite all the hard work of Sidney Moncrief, the Warriors' assistant coach in charge of all things shooting, Golden State's been backsliding with just 15 games left on the schedule. In the last four games, the Warriors have posted three-sub-70 percent performances, including a 24-for-38 night in Sacramento on Tuesday that multiple players thought was a key reason behind Golden State's 122-105 defeat.
"I don't think it's a trend, because the five games before this, we shot (a combined) 77 percent," Moncrief said Saturday as the Warriors packed up to fly to Los Angeles for tonight's game with the Lakers. "We're just not yet consistent the way we need to be."
Over those last four contests, Monta Ellis is a combined 15-for-23 (65.2 percent), Al Harrington is 6-for-13 (46.2) and Andris Biedrins is 3-for-10 (30.0).
"Whether they're getting out of their rhythm or the things that Sidney's got them doing, occasionally that happens," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "You've got to get back then to doing what got the improvement."
Moncrief has watched tape with some of his slumping shooters in search of those keys, but is trying to walk the line between correcting small details and messing with guys' heads to the point of being a detrimental force.
"The thing we don't want to do is talk about it too much," Moncrief said. "I'm trying not to overreact, trying to look beyond just percentages." That's not to say Moncrief has stayed silent on the topic.
"We have been missing a lot of free throws lately," Warriors swingman Stephen Jackson said. "You know Sid don't ever not let us know that. That's something we're going to have to concentrate on because at the end of the day, free throws win games. You might miss two in the first half and the next thing you know, you've lost the game by two points. They definitely matter."
One problem has been a lack of practice, both in games and out. A heavy workload of games means less practice time, which in turn cuts into the amount of instruction that he can impart. And a paucity of foul shots in recent games -- Golden State had just 18 against Houston on Friday and the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday -- has magnified the impact of every miss, percentage-wise.
For Moncrief, who didn't join the team until October and didn't become full-time until months after that, this is a mere bump in the road, albeit a poorly-timed one. He still sees the rehabilitation of Golden State's reputation for free-throw shooting prowess as a multi-year process.
"Given the nature of the team, there will be inconsistencies," Moncrief said. "Then you'll have a game -- we're hoping it's (today) -- where you break out of it."