- The Washington Times - Monday, November 8, 2004

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Mike Montgomery agonized for hours over every single loss at Stanford, and they were about as rare as standing ovations at Golden State games.

In his new job as coach of the Warriors, Montgomery already has more defeats — three — than he did in 32 games with the top-ranked Cardinal last season.

He knew his patience would be tested in a hurry when he made the leap to the NBA.

“It’s hard to win in this league, no question,” Montgomery said before his team’s latest loss, 94-86 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night. “We’re going to do what we can do.”

The Warriors are perennial losers trying to cope with a playoff drought and fans who are growing more impatient by the day. The team’s last winning season and last playoff appearance came in 1993-94.

Things are supposed to be different this season now that Chris Mullin is in charge as the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations. He hired Montgomery from Stanford after 18 successful seasons to replace fired coach Eric Musselman.

Mullin made Rod Higgins general manager and brought in former players Mitch Richmond and Mario Elie to help Montgomery. So far, it’s more of the same.

The Warriors are 0-3 after losing three at home to start the season — the franchise’s worst start since going 0-4 in 1999-00.

Montgomery never started with three straight losses at Stanford. In fact, he began 3-0 in 11 of his 18 seasons, including the last seven.

Now, Golden State begins a five-game road trip today at Dallas. The other stops are San Antonio, Memphis, Charlotte and Cleveland.

“It’s going to be a tough road trip,” forward Cliff Robinson said. “We need a win, so we have to go out on the road and try to get this thing turned around.”

The Warriors are shooting poorly from the field and at the line, and their defense has been weak. They’re also being booed while trying to erase huge deficits night after night.

“We’re getting in the hole and it’s killing us right now. We’re playing catch-up all game,” said forward Troy Murphy, who signed a $58million, six-year contract extension last week.

Golden State’s 30.7 shooting percentage is the second worst in the league, ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Warriors are making only 20 percent of their 3-point tries and 62.8 percent of their free throws.

Jason Richardson, who received a six-year extension worth $70million last week that makes him the team’s highest paid player, isn’t performing to his potential. He was 5-for-15 against Los Angeles a night after going 5-for-14 in a loss to the Jazz.

Montgomery’s message to his team on the locker room board before Saturday’s game talked about playing with energy and bringing a “nasty attitude,” being physical and not giving up easy baskets.

“He’s going to keep doing his job if I know him, and we’ve got to keep doing our job,” center Adonal Foyle said. “We have a lot of games left.”

Montgomery doesn’t question his players’ effort, but he believes his team’s pride is hurting. And how is the coach’s self-esteem?

“I’m discouraged,” Montgomery said. “It’s discouraging only from the standpoint that I recognize how hard it is to win, and some of the things that we’ve got to do better. Right now, I think we have a little confidence problem.”

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