Warriors

Flat fourth spoils W's road trip in loss to Nets

645760.jpg

Flat fourth spoils W's road trip in loss to Nets

BOX SCORE

The Warriors were in good shape much of the game, but things got away in the fourth period. The Nets outscored the Warriors 27-17 in the final period, sending Golden State home from its four-game road trip at 2-2.Nets 107, Warriors 100Star of the game: Nets point guard Deron Williams finished with 24 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.Key stretch: Midway through the fourth quarter, after the Warriors established a five-point lead, Williams made a couple of big plays. First, he knocked down a 3-pointer with 7:22 remaining to cut the Warriors lead to just two points. Then, Williams got fouled on a 3-point attempt on the next possession, and subsequently made three free throws to give the Nets the lead.
End of the third: A big sequence occurred at the end of the third quarter and it didnt go the Warriors way. They were up 83-77 with the ball, but Nate Robinson missed a 3-pointer with just under five seconds remaining. The Nets got the rebound and Anthony Morrow ended up knocking down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to not only cut the deficit to three points but also send the Nets into the final period with momentum.Disappointing loss, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. We had the game. Bottom line is if you dont close out quarters, close out possessions, they come back to bite you. They outworked us.Offense clicking: From an offensive standpoint, the Warriors were efficient and effective in the first half. They shot 52.5 percent from the field including 6-for-9 from 3-point range -- with six players scoring six points or more. And they had 15 assists to just three turnovers.However, it wasnt one of their better defensive efforts as the Nets shot 52 percent from the floor and they also outrebounded the Warriors 23-12. The Warriors went into halftime up 56-55.In the end, the game was largely determined on the glass, where the Nets had a 45-25 advantage.The bottom line is youve got to get the basketball, Jackson said. Kris Humphries (18 points, 15 rebounds) outworked us. Collectively, they wanted it more.Foul trouble for Lee: David Lee, who had scored 20 or more points in the past five Warriors games, was derailed somewhat by foul trouble on Wednesday. Lee picked up his fifth foul with 1:08 remaining in the third quarter, meaning coach Mark Jacksons gamble of keeping him on the floor with four fouls didnt pay off.Jackson used the same strategy in the first half after Lee picked up personal foul No. 3 early in the second quarter. Jackson kept Lee in the game and Lee played another five minutes without picking up another. Jackson then removed him midway through the period.Ellis A-OK: Monta Ellis showed no ill-effects from an elbow he took in the face from Clevelands Anderson Varejao on Tuesday except, that is, a puffy face. Ellis had 11 points and four assists in the first quarter and he attacked the rim fearlessly the entire game.By halftime, Ellis had 13 points, five assists and three steals.Rookie initiation: Warriors rookie Charles Jenkins had the unenviable assignment of defending All-Star point guard Deron Williams, and it didnt go well. Jenkins picked up three quick fouls in just seven minutes and had to give way to Nate Robinson midway through the first quarter.
On the road: The Warriors entered Wednesdays game having won two of three on this road trip, including two consecutive victories. The last time the Warriors had won three straight road games was back in 2007, when they defeated Cleveland, Denver and Houston in consecutive games.The last time the Warriors won three straight games on the same road trip was back in 2003.

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

jordan-bell-ap.jpg
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.