Warriors

Lacob's missteps along way helped fuel boos

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Lacob's missteps along way helped fuel boos

Warriors owner Joe Lacob took the microphone at the end of the Chris Mullin retirement ceremony on Monday and was greeted by a cascade of boos.Those boos reined down heavy and they reined down hard and they lasted for a while. It was unexpected and surprising and probably wasnt the best time for the fans to show their displeasure.But it happened and there have to be reasons why.In the immediate aftermath of the booing, conventional wisdom was that many fans were angry that the Warriors traded Monta Ellis, a fan favorite, to the Milwaukee Bucks the week before.But the reality is that no one move could have sparked that kind of anger from the Warriors fan base.The reality is that while Lacob continues to express confidence and optimism about the future of the Warriors, fans have yet to see any tangible results.Its apparent, theyre already tired of Lacobs promises, and to a lesser degree, coach Mark Jacksons playoff prediction and positive talk.Essentially, Lacob has been running the Warriors for 20 months, and you could make the case thats hes made some mistakes and missteps along the way.It looks like the fans have taken note of many of them. Heres a quick look back at some of the things Lacob has done or said to perhaps alienate some of his fan base.--On the day of Lacobs first official press conference as owner, he criticized former Warriors general manager Chris Mullin, saying he thought Mullin had made a mistake as GM by signing too many players to long-term contracts.Many saw that comment as a cheap shot at Mullin that didnt need to be taken.--Also on that day, it became apparent that Lacobs desire was to move the Warriors from Oakland to San Francisco, an idea that has been reinforced many times since that day in November 2010.The Warriors have drawn consistently well at Oracle Arena, and the idea of moving the team across the Bay perhaps should have been handled with more nuance.--On that first day, Lacob also confirmed that his son, Kirk, just 22 at the time, would be given the title of director of basketball operations. Its safe to say that some Warriors fans didnt think it was the time or place to make such a hire and it may have shown where Lacobs priorities were.--When asked that day if he believed he could turn the Warriors around in a hurry, Lacob responded: There is no doubt.Lacob then went onto to chide those who suggested it might take longer than he thought. Said Lacob: This is what people dont understand. In the NBA, theres only 12 players on a roster. If youre smart, probably a little lucky, too, but if youre smart, you should be able to, given the right opportunity, recognizing the right opportunity, then executing on it. You should be able to turn a team around faster than people would otherwise think.--After taking over the team, Lacob was asked about previous ownership, and more specifically, what happened with the Stephen Jackson extension.Lacob said that former team president Robert Rowell was not the impetus behind that deal, despite evidence to the contrary. General manager at the time Chris Mullin was not involved in Jacksons extension.By exonerating Rowell, it sent a message that Lacob might not be completely different than previous ownership.--On media day this season, Lacob predicted that Klay Thompson would win the Rookie of the Year award. For much of the season, Thompson wasnt anywhere near the top of the rookie class in minutes played or scoring.--Lacob and the teams front office used the amnesty provision on Charlie Bell, who was in the last year of his contract and was set to earn just 4.1 million.The Warriors could have considered amnesty-ing ineffectual center Andris Biedrins or even saving the amnesty for another year. But they used it on Bell, and then they didnt come through with the signing of center DeAndre Jordan.The bottom line is Bell had an expiring contract, which many consider an asset in the NBA and Lacob and the Warriors continue to maintain they dont regret the use of the amnesty.--In the days, weeks and months leading up to the 2011 NBA trade deadline, Lacob talked about making a bold move and taking a risk. But the deadline came and went with only one very minor move being made acquiring Troy Murphy.Making matters worse, there was a trade frenzy on deadline day in 2011, and the Warriors inactivity made them seem a little bit lost.--After the trade deadline, Lacob said that the Warriors had an opportunity to acquire Gerald Wallace from the Bobcats (at that time), but that he didnt believe Wallace would have helped.Whether Wallace would have helped or not will never be known. But it didnt reflect well on Lacob that he said the Warriors couldnt use a player who once was an NBA All-Star.--While looking for a head coach to replace Keith Smart, Lacob said matter-of-factly he was looking for a coach with some experience. Lacob ended up hiring Mark Jackson, who had never coached on any level.Whats more, Lacob continues to maintain that Jackson and this years staff is an improvement over Keith Smart and last years staff despite there being no such tangible proof to that effect.And before trading Monta Ellis, the Warriors were winning at roughly the exact same clip as a year ago.--At an analytics conference in Boston more than a year ago, Lacob was reported to have said something like season-ticket holders arent real fans. There is some dispute as to what exactly Lacob said at that conference, but the comment got out there and got out there in a hurry. Needless to say, Warriors fans werent pleased.--During last seasons home opener, Lacob took the microphone, pointed to the Warriors championship banner and said: We need another one.The line drew cheers, but as time went on that move came to signify Lacobs tendency to overpromise and under-deliver.--Lacobs also been inconsistent when he talks about how long hes been in control of the team. On the one hand, Lacob often says that his ownership group hasnt been in charge that long and that the ball really didnt get rolling for them until after the regular season started in 2010.But at the same time, Lacob has said he had a hand in the David Lee and Jeremy Lin signings and both of them occurred in July 2010. Lacob also was the person responsible for firing Don Nelson and hiring Keith Smart, and that all happened before training camp began.

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.