After amazing 1st quarter, Warriors almost undone by careless turnovers

After amazing 1st quarter, Warriors almost undone by careless turnovers

OAKLAND – The first quarter unfolded like something out of a Warriors fantasy. Passes were crisp and accurate, shots were falling at an astonishing rate and the defense was suffocating the explosive Toronto Raptors.

“Incredible,” Draymond Green said.

“The first quarter was amazing,” Stephen Curry said.

“That first quarter was about as good a quarter as anybody will ever play,” coach Steve Kerr said.

The opening 12 minutes, during which the Warriors built a 25-point lead, launched them to a 121-111 victory Wednesday night that once again defined them as a spectacularly talented team with very specific flaws that can leave them vulnerable.

The Warriors rinsed away the sour taste of their Christmas Day loss at Cleveland, during which they blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, only to revisit some of the same issues that hurt them in that game.

Committing 20 turnovers, off which Toronto scored 26 points, didn’t cost the Warriors this game, but they surely allowed the Raptors to come back and make it close enough to rattle the nerves of the sellout crowd (19,596) at Oracle Arena.

“Some of them were careless,” Kerr said. “We will go back and look at the tape, but 20 is just too many. We had zero with two minutes left in the first quarter. We had nine assists and zero turnovers. We had two careless ones at the end of the quarter, and then the first part of the second quarter was kind of a mess.

“We weren’t ready to play, and that seemed to snowball on us a little bit. We have to clean that up.”

Cleaning up the errors has been the mantra from Day 1 of training camp. It’s widely understood and accepted that turnovers may be the biggest threat to the Warriors chances to win a championship. And, indeed, they may be able to win it all despite occasionally keeping opponents in the game.

But that’s a risky formula.

“We were just overpassing, to be honest,” said Kevin Durant. “I was the worst. I just threw the ball away when I had a wide-open 3. Just dropping the ball. It’s stuff that we can control. It’s not like they’re getting into us and turning us over. We’re doing a lot of overpassing and getting into the lane and trying to make the second and third pass when we’ve got a layup on the first or second one.”

Durant, as much as anyone in a Warriors jersey, ensured the hefty lead would not be lost. He scored 22 points and tied his season-high with 17 rebounds while also ringing up seven assists and five blocks.

Durant became, according to Elias Sports Bureau, the first Warrior to post at least 20 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and five blocks in the same game. The blocks were particularly impactful, particularly the one on which Durant turned away Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan’s drive to the rim with 1:32 to play.

“He’s so long, athletic and bouncy off his feet that when he’s in the paint and people are driving, he’s a major challenge to get a shot over the top of,” Kerr said. “A big part of his game tonight was his rim protection.”

Though all four Warriors All-Stars played solid games, all four also noted at least a modicum of dissatisfaction with the turnover issue.

“It’s just about focus and making the easy play,” Klay Thompson said.

Durant acknowledged that maybe having such a reliable defense might affect the team’s attitude on offense. Knowing they can lock down an opponent when it matters grants them enough comfort to take a few chances with the ball.

“You take note of the positives and try to build on those and appreciate those,” Green said. “At the same time, you’ve got to look at the fact that we had 20 turnovers, nine of them coming in the second quarter. We’ve got to be better with that. We’ve got to rebound the ball better.

“So there are some things that we look at and say, ‘Alright,’ and we need to do those things better.”

Winning, however, is the great panacea. The successful result doesn’t obscure the flaws, but it makes them easier to tolerate.

Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss


Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss

OAKLAND -- If Quinn Cook plays at anything close to the level he performed Friday night against the Kings, the Warriors should avoid any catastrophic stumbling in the absence of their top three scorers.

They stumbled plenty in a 98-93 loss to Sacramento, but not because of Cook. The two-way player who has spent most of the season with G-League Santa Cruz scored a team-high 25 points, shot 10-of-13 from the field and played respectable defense.

He did more than could have been reasonably expected.

“I felt like this was coming,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He was fantastic. He really lit it up and gave us a huge boost.”

The Warriors ran into problems elsewhere, shared among the usually reliable veterans who need to be particularly reliable in the absence of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

Usual starters Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia combined to shoot 6-of-20.

Usual reserves Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West and Nick Young shot a collective 13-of-39.

In the second half, when Warriors mustered only 34 points -- a season-low for any half -- the six vets combined to take 32 shots and missed 24.

Those are atrocious numbers and they explain what went wrong in a game that was there for the taking.

They’re also an anomaly.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Green said. “But we got some good shots. We got ‘Dre on a couple of pull-ups in the lane, I got a couple open shots, Nick got a couple open shots, Zaza got a couple open ones. D-West had one pop in and out. (Kevon Looney) had two pop in and out.

“We just got cold. But hopefully those shots will fall tomorrow.”

West, returning after missing four games with a cyst on his right arm, was 1-of-6 from the field. He came into this game as a 60.8-percent shooter this season.

Igoudala was 4-of-10; he shot 70 percent over the previous 10 games. Young was 5-of-15, well below his 44-percent shooting this season. Livingston’s 3-of-8 shooting is uncharacteristic of someone shooting at least 50 percent for four years running.

If history is any indication, Green (5-of-14) and Pachulia (1-of-6) are not going continue to miss at the rate they did in this game, the first this season in which the Warriors were without all three of their top scorers.

If history is any indication, the Warriors can’t be counted on to score 34 points on 27.3-percent shooting in the second half of a game.

“I loved how our guys battled,” Kerr said. “They really competed well and made some big plays. We just couldn’t get the ball to go down quite enough in the second half.”

That’s going to change, perhaps as soon as Saturday night in Phoenix, were the Suns are playing to lose.

So if Cook plays steady basketball, the Warriors will fall off and their fans won’t become a basket case while waiting for the three shooters. The Warriors surely believe that.

“He really showed up. I’ve been waiting on that Quinn,” Green said. “We needed that. It was great for him to come out and play like that. And most importantly, his shots were falling. Since he’s been playing (more often) he’s been playing well, but his shots weren’t really falling. But tonight, they fell for him.”

They won’t always fall at a rate of 77 percent. They won’t have to once his teammates drop in a few more of their own shots.

Casspi rolls ankle, leaves game vs Kings


Casspi rolls ankle, leaves game vs Kings

OAKLAND -- Omri Casspi sustained a sprained right ankle with 9:00 left in the second quarter of the Warriors-Kings game Friday night and did not return.

After dropping in a short hook shot with 9:04 left in the quarter, Casspi landed awkwardly, rolling his ankle and dropping to the floor clutching his lower leg. Down for a couple minutes, he eventually got up and limped into the locker room, accompanied by physical performance specialist Chelsea Lane.

Casspi played six minutes off the bench, producing 6 points, one assist and one rebound against his former team.

He joins Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Pat McCaw and Klay Thompson on the sideline.