Warriors

Again, Curry, Lee don't do much down stretch

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Again, Curry, Lee don't do much down stretch

The Warriors were in another tight game on Wednesday nightand failed to come through down the stretch. They ended up with another loss this one a painful 93-91 defeat to the Portland Trail Blazers.The Warriors have not fared well in close games this season,and what has remained consistent throughout is how little Stephen Curry andDavid Lee two of the teams cornerstone pieces are involved at the mostcritical times.REWIND: Some crunch-time stats for Warriors players
Thats what happened again on Wednesday. Lee had a nicegame, scoring 29 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, but he didnt score after histhree-point play with 3:39 put the Warriors up five.REWIND: Lee's 29 not enough; Warriors fall to Blazers 93-91
Curry didnt do a whole lot late, either, although he didmanage to coax a foul out of Gerald Wallace after getting double-teamed. Currymade both free throws to put the Warriors up 90-88 with 1:17 left.But overall, Curry took just one shot in almost ninefourth-quarter minutes a missed 3-pointer with five minutes left and thatjust doesnt seem like enough for a guy who is one of the games bestshooters.RELATED: Jackson addresses lack of late production from Lee, Curry
Not to mention a player the Warriors organization hasexpressed a desire to build around.And Lee hasnt been a factor when its come to picking upthe scoring slack late in games. Hes still looking for his first real big basketof his Warriors career and his first field goal at any time in the last twominutes of a close game this year.The argument on the other side and valid is that neitherCurry nor Lee has been put in a position to make important shots when the gameson the line. Most of the time the ball is in Monta Ellis hands, and theres noquestion Ellis is the teams best scorer and perhaps only player on the teamcapable of creating his own shot.But in Wednesdays loss to Portland, it wasnt Ellis takingmost of the late-game shots because Ellis didnt play in the fourth quarter.Instead, it was Nate Robinson who was in on every play. Or seemingly just aboutevery play.Robinson made some big buckets, no doubt. But he missed afew too many, including a runner in the lane with 32 seconds left that couldhave tied the game.And then on the games final possession -- one that startedwith six seconds and an inbounds pass in the backcourt -- Robinson lost controlof the ball while trying to create in the lane, and got it to Brandon Rush toolate in the corner.But forget the fact that Robinson didnt make those plays. Perhapsmore noteworthy was that Robinson took nine shots in the fourth quarter, andthe next closest player to him was rookie Klay Thompson with three.In other words, Curry and Lee two of the franchises mosttreasured players simply dont get involved enough, or at all, when thestakes are highest. Again, perhaps thats the case because the ball is mostlyin the hands of Ellis down the stretch, or in Wednesdays caseRobinson.But the other part of that is maybe neither player isinjecting himself into the actionenough or at all.Regardless why its happened, its clear that entrustingEllis and Robinson with virtually all the end-game decision-making hasntworked well for Golden State. If thats the case, isnt it time to force-feedsome touches for Lee and Curry? At least make them show you they cant doit.And if Lee and Curry cant get it done or they dont wantany part of getting it done, well, wouldnt that be good to know movingforward?

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

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AP

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season. 

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

The Warriors are not ready to flip their seek-and-destroy switch. Not yet.

They’re closer to being ready than, say, their longtime rivals in Cleveland, but in going 2-2 on this four-game road trip the Warriors showed they are nowhere near full annihilation mode.

They went into Oklahoma City Wednesday night and, in gulping down a 108-91 loss on national TV, came away looking more vulnerable than they have in any game this season. The 17-point loss was their largest margin of defeat and this was awful close to being a wire-to-wire rout.

The Warriors defense, so splendid during the seven-game win streak they took out of town last week, was inconsistent throughout and downright atrocious by their standards as they concluded the trip.

Their offense, which had begun reducing the turnovers to acceptable levels, came apart like a pair of $3 sneakers.

Even their body language, aside from two well-deserved technical fouls, seemed to mostly vacillate between whispers and a whimpers.

“We didn’t have any focus or concentration,” coach Steve Kerr said. “The ‘millennials’ couldn’t lock in tonight. And their coach couldn’t do much either. Long night for us.”

These were not the Warriors who posted seven consecutive double-digit wins, and they’re certainly not the team that found its competitive blowtorches last April. They weren’t visible in this game, nor were they seen for most of this road trip.

This, ahem, regular-season road trip.

That’s the catch. Last April is when the playoffs got underway, and next April is when the 2018 playoffs begin. The time between now and then is for experimenting, fine-tuning and fighting through the monotonous joys of victory -- a factor on vivid display Wednesday night.

“We played with some decent energy,” Stephen Curry said. “We just didn’t play smart.”

“They completely outplayed us, outcoached us,” Kerr said. “It was just their night. It was absolutely their night. They brought the energy, they brought the juice, they brought the intelligence. And we didn’t bring any of that.”

The Warriors entered the game after studying video and stats that illustrated OKC’s ability to disrupt an offense. The Thunder leads the NBA in steals, deflections and -- this one punches the Warriors in the gut -- forcing turnovers.

The Warriors committed 22 giveaways, leading directly to 34 Thunder points.

“Thirty-four points off turnovers, you can’t win like that,” Draymond Green said.

“I’ve got to do a better job of getting them ready to play,” Kerr said. “We have a pretty loose, fun atmosphere around here. That’s great, but there are certain times where it’s like, ‘All right guys. Let’s throw it to our team. Let’s execute the play. Let’s remember the play.’ ”

Kevin Durant bemoaned the “silly turnovers” that were such a factor in the game, blaming it players rather than Kerr and his staff.

“For the most part he can’t control that type of stuff,” said Durant, whose four turnovers were second to Curry’s team-high six. “We’ve got to be better at keeping the ball in our hands, shooting more shots than our opponents and playing defense.”

Added Green: “We were pretty well-prepared. We just played bad.”

That happens to even the best of teams, a category in which the defending champions fit quite snugly. No team, not even the Chicago Bulls of the maniacally competitive Michael Jordan, is able to bring its best for 82 games a season.

The Warriors blew two 17-point leads, one in second quarter and another in the third, in losing at Boston.

They fell behind by 24 in the third quarter to the 76ers before coming back to win in Philadelphia before recovering the next night to submit their best performance of the trip in routing Brooklyn.

And in OKC, against a Thunder team that would seem to get their full attention, the Warriors were outhustled, outsmarted and played with considerably less fury.

“Right now, we’re just in a little bit of rut, where we’ve got to focus,” Kerr said. “And I know we will. We’ve done this many times in the past and bounced back. And we’ll bounce back. We need to lock in and tighten up everything.”

They will, eventually. It could happen next week, or next month, or after the calendar turns to 2018. They’ll turn it on and become the team of terror, punishing all before them. It might be April, though.

This road game indicated some truth, though, which is there will be games over the next four months in which they will lose the battle with themselves.