Kerr's 'great timeout' refocuses Warriors, fuels win over Kings

Kerr's 'great timeout' refocuses Warriors, fuels win over Kings

SACRAMENTO -- Eighteen seconds into the game, before the Warriors had attempted a shot, or even taken possession of the ball, coach Steve Kerr called timeout and immediately summoned his players to the bench.

Kerr wanted to discuss defense and focus, neither of which was present when Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins spun around Zaza Pachulia and pranced toward an unguarded rim for the kind of dunk usually seen in a layup line.

Though the Warriors acknowledged their negligence -- it was mentioned right before tipoff that if Cousins got the ball on the block, there should be help -- but it wasn’t until late in the second quarter that they unleashed a fully focused defense.

And once they did, it took all hope out of the Kings, who were emboldened by building a 16-point lead midway through the second quarter, only to have the Warriors trim it to seven at by halftime and completely take over with a 22-3 run in the third quarter.

“We knew they couldn’t sustain that throughout the game,” Kevin Durant said Sunday night, after scoring 28 points as the Warriors completed a 117-106 win at Golden 1 Center. “You saw the third quarter. Their legs got a little tired, we were more physical and we got out and ran.

“That’s the formula for us.”

When the Warriors (32-6) use stingy defense to trigger transition offense, they’re nearly impossible to beat. They shots come more easily, and they go in more often. They are 19-0 this season when they shoot 50 percent, and chances of doing that rise dramatically when they’re forcing turnovers and getting into the wind.

“I’m not saying we’re invincible at all; we’ve proven that (we’re not),” said Stephen Curry, who scored a game-high 30 points, his third consecutive game with at least 30. “But it gives us our best shot to allow our talent on the other end to shine.

“A lot’s been said about our fourth quarter offense and execution and lineups and whatever, but if we can work through that while getting stops on the defensive end and using the length and activity that we usually have on that end, we’ll be alright regardless.”

The Kings (15-22) shot 52.3 percent in the first half, and were close to 60 percent before the Warriors held them to 1-of-6 from the 4:14 mark until halftime.

The Warriors took command after intermission, outscoring the Kings 39-22 in the third quarter, forcing five turnovers (leading to six points) while holding them to 31.3-percent shooting.

The offense simply held up its end of the deal. The Warriors shot 54.3 percent in the second half, with balanced scoring. In addition to Curry and Durant leading the charge, Klay Thompson put in 18 points, Zaza Pachulia tossed in 10 and Draymond Green added 9, while also contributing his usual combo line of statistics, including 10 assists and seven rebounds.

It was enough that the Warriors were able to continue their NBA-record streak of games without back-to-back losses, now at 124.

Yet it goes back to Kerr, calling the quick timeout and demanding the team to do as it had been coached.

“I knew exactly why, when he called it,” Green said. “Zaza did his job and nobody was there to help. It definitely made a statement.”

Said Kerr: “We gave up a back-door lay-up on a play that we had just talked about and there was a scheme that we blew,” he said. “So, we just had to talk about it.”

Asked if he’d ever seen a coach call a time 18 seconds into a game, surely the fastest Kerr ever has, Durant considered his nine-year career before responding.

“No – no, but that was a great timeout,” he said. “We said we were going to double from the baseline on Cousins and we didn’t do it. And it was unacceptable to Steve. Great timeout. Got us going.”

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.