Mike Brown has one job to do as acting head coach of the Warriors

Mike Brown has one job to do as acting head coach of the Warriors

Programming note: Warriors-Blazers Game 4 coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

PORTLAND — Though this undoubtedly is a crisis for Steve Kerr, whose body is putting up such angry protest that he is pulling out of playoff games, it’s no emergency for the Warriors.

No matter what you think of Mike Brown as a basketball coach, and opinions do vary, his ascension to acting head coach in Kerr’s absence does not sink the championship aspirations of the team.

What it does, more than anything, is create leadership opportunities for such accomplished veterans as Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.

[POOLE: This is cruel: Steve Kerr imprisoned by misery that has engulfed his body]

What it also does is provide a deeper glimpse into one of the most democratic coaching operations in sports.

“The way things work here, it’s pretty unusual,” Brown told NBCSportsBayArea.com. “Everybody is involved. Everybody -- coaches, players, staff, anybody with an idea -- has a voice. Steve has created an environment where everyone is comfortable speaking up about anything.”

Not only is everyone comfortable, but Kerr also encourages participation in the process. Whether it’s a veteran coach like Ron Adams, a staffer like Nick U’Ren, an analyst like Sammy Gelfand or a video intern like Khalid Robinson, the floor is always open to ideas and comments.

No one is ignored, and that’s not the case with every coach in any sport.

The Warriors understand they operate in a special space, which is part of the reason they’ve spent three years thriving at such an incredible pace. And that doesn’t change because Brown is the guy standing up to call timeouts.

Consider a scene from Game 3 Saturday night. With the Warriors down eight in the final minute of the first quarter, Green picked up his second foul. That typically calls for a substation. And Brown was ready to insert Klay Thompson, but then caught sight of Green saying he would be fine.

Thompson returned to his seat, Green finished the quarter -- and was on the court again to open the second quarter.

“That just goes to show the trust that our coaching staff has in us,” Green said. “There are so many times you see guys wave a coach off . . . and they’ll still take them out. But that’s the trust our coaching staff has in us. And I know if I wave to stay in, I can’t pick up that third foul. It’s a two-way street. They have the trust in us to allow us to stay in in a situation like that, and we’ve got to make sure that we don’t mess them over and pick up that third foul, and then we’re out for the rest of the half.

“So I think it was great by him and the rest of the coaching staff to have that trust. It’s on us to hold up our end of the bargain and not get that third foul.”

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Green, by the way, didn’t pick up his third foul until the fourth quarter. That was long after he played such ridiculously good third-quarter defense -- 0 points while posting a plus-12 over 12 minutes -- that the Warriors wiped out a double-digit deficit.

Brown has learned to trust the player, just as Kerr trusts his players. It’s standard operation for this bunch, and Brown, a three-time NBA head coach, has seen enough not to deviate.

“The group, as a whole, understands what he wants,” Brown said of Kerr. “It makes it easy for a guy like me to just be a part.”

This is Kerr’s team, and Brown knows it. Brown wasn’t hired to coach the Warriors, and nobody understands this better than he. He wasn’t asked to come in and lay groundwork, to put his stamp on the roster or the playbook or video presentation or determine franchise direction.

His job, for as long as he is acting head coach, is to maintain status quo. And, maybe, if circumstances call for it, consider a wrinkle every now and then, as he would if he were standing next to Kerr.

Keep in mind that Kerr, who attended morning shootaround ahead of Game 4 Monday night, is not walking away. Though he does not plan to be on the bench for a while, he’ll continue to prepare and get into the ears of players and staff.

So this is not a crisis for the Warriors. Though they’d like to get Kerr back as soon as possible, they also believe the system he has built has tremendous self-sustaining qualities.

Brown has been around the game, seen enough organizations, to know this is about as good as it gets.

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.