Durant's injury changes everything for Warriors, but not a death blow

Durant's injury changes everything for Warriors, but not a death blow

Programming note: Log on to the CSN Bay Area Facebook page Wednesday morning at 10 a.m when Warriors analyst Kelenna Azubuike joins "Warriors Outsiders" Drew Shiller and Grant Liffmann to bring you the latest on the Kevin Durant injury and the reported signing of Matt Barnes.

Kevin Durant played one minute in Washington on Tuesday before limping away for the rest of the night. Though it is not yet known how long he will be out, his absence changes everything for the Warriors.

From general scoring ability to playing rotations to floor spacing to rim protection to, maybe most of all, the swagger with which they take the floor, the Warriors will have to make massive adjustments to maintain the best record in the NBA.

As a largely veteran team they are capable, at least in the short term, of doing so.

Durant left with a hyperextended left knee and underwent an MRI test late Tuesday night in Washington. Diagnosis and prognosis are expected Wednesday.

“We’ll just wait and see,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters after a 112-108 loss to the Wizards at Verizon Center. “And keep our fingers crossed.”

If Durant is out three to five games, the Warriors can weather it.

If it’s six to 10 games, they’re in danger of losing their current top-seed status in the race to the playoffs.

If it’s more than 10 games, their championship-or-bust mindset is severely compromised.

“If he has to take some time off, we’re fine with it,” Klay Thompson said. “We just want him healthy down the stretch.”

Though Durant leads the team in scoring and rebounding and blocks, he may be the one All-Star they can best cover for over a few games. Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Thompson already have proved they can form the nucleus of a championship team. This will force them to raise their games, and there is room for each to do exactly that.

It’s conceivable that some of Green’s minutes will come at small forward, partly because he’s capable -- he’s already running the offense as a “point forward” -- and partly because the roster has more “bigs” than wings.

The question, then, is how much help will the Warriors get from everyone else, from rookie Pat McCaw -- a probable short-term replacement for Durant -- and the veterans coming off the bench.

More will be asked of Andre Iguodala, and he has proved he can deliver. More will be expected of Shaun Livingston, and he appears ready to answer the call. More will be asked David West and JaVale McGee and James Michael McAdoo and probably Kevon Looney too.

Iguodala averages roughly 26 minutes but can add a maybe four or more. Livingston averages about 17 minutes and comfortably put in another five to eight. West averages less than 10 minutes but can take a bigger load; he was effective in a 13-minute stint on Tuesday.

If Durant is out for an extended period, the Warriors may have to look at the buyout market. Would they consider a power forward, say Terrence Jones, who has some talent and is available? Keep in mind that players signed after Wednesday will not be eligible for the postseason.

The Warriors will spend the coming hours deciding what to do, if anything, other than sign Jose Calderon. The championship season, as visualized, is in jeopardy.

“We’re not going to act like he died,” Green said. “We don’t even know what happened, or what’s going on. We’ve got to know something . . . we really don’t know much right now.”

This much is certain: No one or two or even three players can give what Durant does. No player in the league is tougher to defend because no player has his combination of length, agility, athleticism and inside/outside shooting ability.

The Warriors will have to use a committee approach to compensate for the loss of Durant. They only hope the committee won’t be needed for long.


Curry claims he didn't throw mouthguard at ref: 'I've got a pretty good aim'

Curry claims he didn't throw mouthguard at ref: 'I've got a pretty good aim'

Just before the Warriors officially lost the game in Memphis on Saturday night, their superstar point guard lost his cool.

After not getting a foul call with 43 seconds left in the game, Steph Curry chucked his mouthguard in the direction of referee Scott Wall in a fit of rage reminiscent of Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

Wall immediately ejected Curry, who continued to argue with the officials.

After the game, Curry wanted to make it clear he wasn't trying to his Wall with his mouthguard.

"If I tried to throw it at him and hit him, I've got a pretty good aim," Curry said told reporters after the game. "I've thrown my mouthpiece plenty of times and thrown it on the floor. Probably not the best thing to do, but I've done it. I own up to it.

"If I was trying to throw it at him or hit him, I would have been able to executed that."

Curry explained why he reacted the way he did.

"That last play, I thought I got fouled. My frustration boiled over, did something stupid, deserved to get kicked out and that's what happened. Obviously learn from it and try not to do it again," Curry told reporters.

Now Curry and the Warriors wait to see if the NBA will suspend or fine him. He has an expectation of what the punishment will be.

"Don't think it will be a suspension or anything. My pockets will be a lot lighter," Curry said after the game.

What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise


What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise

It’s much too early to get legitimately nervous, much less start tumbling into a panic.

The Warriors are going to be fine.


They most certainly are not yet what they will become in about two weeks, when they settle in for a four-game homestand that begins Nov. 6. That’s 10 games into the season, and it’s conceivable the Warriors might be 6-4.

After a 111-101 loss to the ever-tenacious Grizzlies on Saturday in Memphis, the Warriors are 1-2 and, by their lofty standard, looking about as lost as a stray cat in a hurricane.

“We’re obviously not ready. We knew that,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re not ready to put together a full effort. And I’m not doing a great job of putting together combinations, finding the right motivation to get guys going, to get some joy and laughter in here.

“It’s just one of those rough patches. And, hopefully, we can climb our way out of it. I’m sure we will. It may take some time.”

It will take some time, and of that there is plenty.

Do not blame this lull entirely on China, not when there is so much more. The Warriors are coming off their third consecutive prolonged season, this one followed by the training camp disruption caused by spending eight days in Oakland, eight days in China, followed by eight days in Oakland leading up to opening night.

It’s easy to see the timing is off on an offense that relies on precision. The spacing is off on an offense that requires room to operate. The energy is lacking on a defense that lapses into ordinary without its bedrock intensity. Both body and spirit appear less than peak.

“We’ve been playing hard,” Kevin Durant told reporters at FedEx Forum, “but I think we’ve got to take it up a level.

“We’ll be fine. It’s 79 more games left. I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”

Understand, a team that won an NBA-best 67 games last season and posted a league-record 16-1 postseason doesn’t lose it because opponents load up. When the Warriors are on their game, opponents don’t matter.

For now, though, there is an individual listlessness that results in collective slumber. Stephen Curry has gambled himself in foul trouble in both losses and was booted in Memphis. Andre Iguodala missed an entire game and Draymond Green missed the fourth quarter of the first loss, a game in which the Warriors gave up a 13-point lead over the final 12 minutes.

And Durant’s 4.6 blocks per game is impressive. It also happens to be offset by his 6.3 turnovers per game.

“That’s on me,” he said. “I’m turning the ball over at a high rate right now. I’m really pissed at myself about it. I’ve just got to hold on to the ball. Just make the correct pass. I think I’m just rushing. I just need to calm down, settle down, and that would ignite the whole team. But if I turn the ball over, that’s contagious.”

The Rockets turned 17 Warriors giveaways into 21 points. The Pelicans turned 14 into 20. The Grizzlies turned 17 into 24.

Asked what has to change, Klay Thompson went to exactly the right place, saying “probably our defensive intensity from the jump.”

That’s where it starts, at least on the court. Meanwhile, there is more video work, more group texts about details and the need for more time for their bodies and minds to become one.

“We’ll be better,” Durant said. “We’re still finding a groove with each other. We’re still getting back into shape as far as playing our game, the flow, just the reads off not calling plays. We’ve got to get used to that again.”

Thompson is, however, displaying a modicum of impatience.

“We’ll come out Monday and we’ll play a great game,” he said. “I guarantee it.”

He’s probably right. The Warriors will be playing at Dallas, against a Mavericks team that is built to be devoured by the powerful.

That might be a quick fix. But it won’t be the final fix. That is weeks away.