Warriors

Gameday: Next up for Draymond Green -- LaMarcus Aldridge

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USATI

Gameday: Next up for Draymond Green -- LaMarcus Aldridge

After saying late Wednesday afternoon there would be no Thursday morning shootaround, Steve Kerr needed only five or six hours to reconsider.

He was in San Antonio, where the Warriors would face Gregg Popovich’s Spurs, so Kerr changed his mind and called for a morning warmup at AT&T Center, where the teams meet Thursday night.

[SHILLER: Kerr calls shootaround, details the concepts Warriors need to get in order]

The Warriors (5-3) want to sustain the intensity displayed Monday night in their most impressive performance this season, a 141-113 win over the Clippers in LA.

The Spurs (4-3) opened the season with four consecutive wins but are coming off three straight losses, all on the road.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 8

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Draymond Green vs. LaMarcus Aldridge: Down two starters, the Spurs likely won’t go any further than Aldridge takes them. He has had mixed results against Green, who is coming off a strong game three nights ago, when he silenced Clippers star Blake Griffin. Green will be the leader in a phalanx of defenders paying attention to Aldridge, whose 23.6 points per game leads the Spurs and ranks 15th in the NBA.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: No injuries listed. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Spurs: C Joffrey Lauvergne (R ankle sprain), F Kawhi Leonard (R quadriceps tendinopathy) and G Tony Parker (L quadriceps tendon surgery) are listed as out.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors last season lost two of three regular-season games but subsequently swept San Antonio in the conference finals. The Warriors lost 31 of 36 to the Spurs prior to 2014-15 but are 5-5 against them since coach Kerr arrived.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE PACE GAME: The Warriors want to play fast; they currently rank sixth in pace and is one of the reasons they lead and league in scoring at 121.0 points per game. The Spurs prefer to be more deliberate, ranking 25th in pace and averaging 98.1 points (27th in the NBA) and want to keep the score around that figure.

THE ARC: The Warriors rank second in the league in 3-point field goal percentage, at 39.9. The Spurs, generally among the NBA’s best at defending the arc, rank 17th, allowing teams to shoot 36.0 percent. Kerr likely reminded his team of Popovich’s commitment to limit clean looks from deep, so expect lots of screens and kick outs.

THE GLASS WARS: By starting Pau Gasol and Aldridge, the Spurs have done a terrific job at rebounding (fifth in the league) and an even better job at piling up second-chance points (second). Their 47.5 paint points per game ranks third. The Warriors will have to be vigilant about blocking out, an area where they have been vulnerable.

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.

Durant addresses scuffles with Westbrook after Warriors' loss: 'That's just ball'

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AP

Durant addresses scuffles with Westbrook after Warriors' loss: 'That's just ball'

As you might expect when Kevin Durant returns to Oklahoma City, things got chippy at several moments Wednesday.

Once during the second quarter and again in the third quarter, Durant and former running mate Russell Westbrook could be seen yapping at each other. During the latter incident, the two literally went nose-to-nose, touching foreheads before being sperated.

After the Warriors' 108-91 loss to the Thunder, Durant was asked about the exchanges.

"Man, that's just ball. That's just ball me. He's competitive, I'm competitive. We like to go at it. Both of us. That's just part of the game, so I respect it. I got nothing but love for him. I'm expecting it again when we play them again. All fun and games to me," Durant told reporters.

Despite what the cameras caught, Durant tried to downplay the level of emotions between the two teams on the court.

"Can't let emotion seep into business. Can't do that. So I think on our end, we were just playing our game. They just played better than us tonight. The emotion around the court, around the arena, around the city I'm sure was a little higher than it was on the court. can't let emotion seep in. Just have to play better than that," Durant said.

When a reporter kept pressing about the incidents between Durant and Westbrook, the Warriors forward pushed back.

"Did you watch the game? Or did you watch for the scuffles? The story is about the game. We lost, they kicked our a**, they played a great. You should give them credit for how they played. We should be better. It's not about who's in each other's faces. That stuff is not real. So please, don't believe it. All the fans, they are lying to you. It's all about basketball. They played a great game. We didn't," Durant retorted.

So how did returning to his former home for the first time this season compare to his first trip back last year?

"It was a little better. Nothing like the first. I'm sure everyone in the arena said what they had to say," Durant said.

The next two times Durant and Westbrook meet up, it will be in Oakland (Feb.6 and Feb. 24). The Warriors don't return to Oklahoma City until April 3, 2018.