Many reasons behind Warriors' loss in Miami: 'They played harder'

Many reasons behind Warriors' loss in Miami: 'They played harder'

So, what happened to the Warriors in Miami?

They were undone by a combination of factors, from the locale to the challenge of playing on consecutive nights to their tendency to saunter through the first half before unleashing the full force of their talents in the second.

From the poor long-distance shooting to the thrashing they took on the glass.

There also was the absence of Andre Iguodala, sitting on a rest night, and perhaps most of all, Heat guard Dion Waiters performing as if he were Superman.

Each of these was a factor, and the combination of challenges was too much for the Warriors to overcome in a 105-102 loss at American Airlines Arena.

“Tonight was an NBA loss on a Monday, nothing to panic over,” Kevin Durant told reporters in Miami.

“We were just a step slow.”

That they were, at both ends. The offense too often trudged about as if jogging in mud, and the defense lagged along as if affected by fatigue or disinterest.

“Give Miami credit: They played harder,” Klay Thompson said.

The Warriors (38-7) through the first three quarters were outrebounded 37-29 and outshot from 3-point distance -- their specialty -- 37.5 percent to 18.2 percent. If go into the fourth quarter shooting their average (38.7 percent) from deep, they have an eight-point lead.

Instead, they were down four, 77-73, and in need of a comeback on a night when Waiters was a force field against that possibility. He scored a career-high-tying 33 points on 13-of-20 shooting, including 6-of-8 from deep.

“You have to tip your hat to him,” Durant said of his former teammate in Oklahoma City. “He made big shots all night. He was aggressive. He had his jumper going. He didn’t hit the rim tonight; everything went straight in.”

The Warriors were down, 98-88, with less than four minutes to play before embarking on a stirring comeback to tie the game, 102-102, on a Durant dunk with 11.7 seconds left. They came alive, suddenly playing with their hair on fire.

And Waiters, who scored 24 points in the second half, poured water right on top of their heads, draining a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds to win the game.

“We didn’t have a good effort just trying to execute the first 3[1/2] quarters,” said Stephen Curry, whose 10 rebounds were more than Draymond Green and Durant combined. “You feel like you still have a shot down seven to 10 with six minutes left.

“But when you get down like that on the road and a guy hits some tough shots like Dion did, you have to take that pill and understand we put ourselves in that position to allow those shots to effect the game. He played well, but we didn’t do anything to help ourselves the first 3[1/2] quarters.”

So ended the seven-game win streak during which the Warriors were utterly dominating, beating opponents by an average of 19.4 points per game. The usual culprit, death by turnover, is not to be blamed.

The Warriors committed 14 turnovers, off which the Heat scored 8 points, while scoring 18 points of 15 Miami giveaways.

“It was more a case of not being fully engaged defensively and on edge like we need to be,” coach Steve Kerr said.

In Miami, of all places, the Warriors strayed from their normal routine. They arrived late Sunday afternoon and did not have a shootaround Monday morning. They rested Iguodala. They missed eight free throws and 22 triples.

They found no real rhythm until the final, futile minutes.

“We just have to play from the beginning,” Draymond Green said. “I don’t think we really ever established ourselves in that game. Other than a little at the end, that was it.”

And, still, that might have been enough, if not for Waiters.

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Because it’s only two games against two of the worst teams in the NBA, it’s prudent to resist the temptation to fall in love with Quinn Cook.

Putting up Stephen Curry numbers in consecutive games does not make one Stephen Curry.

It’s impossible, though, not to clearly understand why the Warriors have consistently expressed faith in Cook, the two-way point guard who has spent three years trying to make an NBA team.

Two fine games are enough, though, for the coaching staff to recommend adding him to the postseason roster. It’s wise to have a contingency in case Curry has to miss any of the games that matter most, and the Warriors are a smart bunch.

Cook on Saturday told reporters in Phoenix that the Warriors have not addressed the possibility of being on the postseason roster. That doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about it.

“He’s proven that he can compete at this level,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters Saturday night in Phoenix. “The last couple games, you’re seeing what he can do. He’s a great shooter. We’ve known that."

Cook scored, on back-to-back nights, 25 and 28 points, shooting 70 percent (21-of-30) from the field, including 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from deep. That’s Curry-type quality when he’s on a roll. Cook also handled the ball well, recorded seven assists and was pesky enough on defense to nab five steals.

“Quinn is showing the world that he is an NBA player,” Draymond Green said.

Cook’s 10 3-pointers over the past two games are more than anybody not named Curry, Durant or Thompson have drained over a similar stretch -- and only Nick Young among the team’s reserves have made more over any single month.

The Warriors, it just so happens, are dead last in 3-pointers made by reserves, averaging 2.0 per game, with Young accounting for 1.5 per game.

Cook is showing he might be able to help with this.

Kerr loves 3-point shooters. General manager Bob Myers is fond of saying he can never have too many shooters.

The Warriors are discovering they can’t have too many capable point guards, particularly when Cook is proving that he, like Curry, also is comfortable playing off the ball. Pairing Cook with Shaun Livingston, the primary backup to Curry, is a nice option to have.

“I’ve said all along,” Green said. “I sit here and watch so many other teams play and I wonder, ‘How is Quinn Cook a two-way player?' And then you’ve got guys in the league that can’t dribble with their left hand, or can’t go left, can’t go right, but you’ve got a guy like that as a two-way player.

“So I’m happy for him. I pray that he gets rewarded and gets what he deserves.”

Cook had brief trial runs with the Pelicans, as a rookie, and the Mavericks last season. He played a total of 14 games with the two teams. He has played 21 with the Warriors, seven as a starter, but only in the last two has he looked entirely comfortable in his role and with these teammates.

With Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Curry out, the Warriors need Cook to score. He knows he needs to score. He is scoring. And doing a few other things, too.

“Playing in the NBA is something that I’ve dreamed of my whole life,” Cook said after his 28-point performance in a win over the Suns. “I can’t really put it into words, just being able to put on an NBA jersey night in and night out, practice with an NBA team every day, has been my goal since I can remember. I’m just trying to get better every day and live in the moment. I’m just trying to win games. I’m trying to help out as much as possible, whether it’s getting guys shots, playing defense, shooting the ball.

“Lately the ball’s been going in a little bit. But with three All-Stars out, I’ve got to step up. I’m just taking it game by game and competing night in and night out.”

Sometime early next month, if not late this month, the Warriors expect to have their starting backcourt. Curry and Thompson will have returned before the playoffs begin April 14-15, and both will need to be available if for reasonable chance to repeat as champs.

But Cook is making his case for inclusion. He’ll get another test Monday night in San Antonio, where Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is sure to throw at Cook a few wrinkles he may not have seen, but the Warriors have seen enough to know he can help.

“He’s a good fit for us, too,” Kerr said. “It’s not just his ability. It’s his maturity. He’s very professional, does whatever is asked, the guys love him. They want to go to war with him.

“He’s a guy. He’s an NBA guy. We’re lucky to have him.”

That’s not an demand, or even a preference. To add Cook to the roster, the Warriors would have to shed one of their 15 players currently on a standard NBA contract.

But somewhere among Kerr’s words, I believe I see an endorsement.

Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns


Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns

The Warriors have lost three of their last four games, their roster is in shambles and, still, they look like pure gold in contrast to the Suns team they’re facing Saturday night in Phoenix.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6 o’clock, with tipoff scheduled for 7:05.

Reeling from the absences of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, the Warriors (52-17) showed plenty of the scrap in losing to the Kings on Friday in Oakland but couldn’t get much offense from their veterans.

The Suns (19-51) are having the worst season since 1968-69, their inaugural season. They’ve lost seven in a row, 16 of their last 17 and 21 of their last 23.


Warriors by 3


Quinn Cook vs. Elfrid Payton: Payton bolted to a 16-point first quarter and scored 29 the last time he faced the Warriors. Quinn is coming off a career-high 25-point game. With teams relying on diminished rosters, whichever of the two young PGs can set a tone gives his team an advantage.


Warriors: G Omri Casspi (R ankle sprain), G Stephen Curry (R ankle tweak), F Kevin Durant (R rib soreness), G Pat McCaw (L wrist fracture) and G Klay Thompson (R thumb fracture) are listed as out.

Suns: G Devin Booker (R hand sprain) and F Alan Williams (R meniscus tear) are listed as questionable. G Brandon Knight (L ACL tear) is listed as out.


Warriors: 7-3.

Suns: 1-9.


Tony Brothers (crew chief), Jacyn Goble, James Williams


The Warriors won the first of four meetings this season, 129-83 on Feb. 12 at Oracle Arena. They swept all four games last season and are 12-1 against the Suns in the Steve Kerr era.


MOTIVATED VETS: Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, David West and Nick Young, expected to generate offense, combined to shoot 19-of-59 (32.2 percent) in a five-point loss Friday. They must be better; they can’t be much worse. Phoenix leads the NBA in points allowed.

THE BIG MEN: JaVale McGee started nine straight games at center, but Pachulia started the last two. The Suns are long up front, so McGee could be in line for a start or more minutes. In addition, Damian Jones, the team’s other 7-footer, also could get playing time.

STREAKING WITH THREES: The Suns own the longest active streak of games with at least one 3-point make (1,128). The Warriors are No. 2 (1,121). Both streaks are endangered. Curry, Thompson and Durant are out for the Warriors. Booker will either sit out or play with a splint on his shooting hand.