Warriors

Monta erupts for 48, Thunder win 119-116

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Monta erupts for 48, Thunder win 119-116

BOX SCORE
OAKLAND Monta Ellis scored a career-high 48 points, but it wasnt enough to lift the Warriors to a victory. The Thunder, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, defeated the Warriors for the second time at Oracle Arena in 11 days.Thunder 119, Warriors 116Player of the game: Warriors shooting guard Monta Ellis had a career-high 48 points, going 18-for-29 from the field and 9-for-10 from the foul line.

Key stretch: With under 20 seconds remaining, Kevin Durant missed a finger roll in the lane, but the Warriors couldnt secure the rebound. Given another opportunity, Durant banked in an 18-footer with 14.2 seconds remaining, which proved to be the game-winner.The Warriors still had plenty of time and were only down one, but they couldnt come through on their last possession. Despite being down just one, Monta Ellis shot a 3-pointer with five seconds remaining.The shot bounced off and the Thunder rebounded.You can nit-pick all you want, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. Thats a guy with 48 points, with a wide-open shot, all by himself, on fire all night long. We executed. David had an option, turned down the drive, kicked it to Monta. Ill take it all day long. He makes it and you say: What a great play. Guy was on fire and he got a wide-open look.A wide-open look might have been a little bit of a stretch considering that Westbrook got a hand up and was close enough to Ellis that there was contact afterward and Ellis ended up on the ground.Still, Ellis, like his coach, had no issue with the shot.I was trying to get a quick shot and try to get somebody to tip it in, Ellis said. Like I said, it was a great shot. Nothing you can do about it. It didnt go down. It is what it is.Jackson questions officiating: One sentence after saying the Warriors were a no-excuse basketball team in his postgame press conference, Jackson then went ahead and criticized the officiating.That play at the end, David Lee gets hammered by James Harden, clearly, and we dont get that call, Jackson said. David Lee now picks up his fifth foul when he doesnt even put contact on Russell Westbrook, who blatantly fouls Monta Ellis. These are calls that you cannot get back but they hurt us. I dont accept My bad from my players all night long and its getting old accepting My bad for missed calls.Lee picked up his fifth foul with 6:28 remaining in the fourth quarter.Tough twosome: Ellis had a monster game for the Warriors, but so did Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunders two stars. Durant finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, while Westbrook had 31 points and seven assists.Lees triple-double: David Lee had a triple-double -- -- the second of his career. It was also the first triple-double by a Warriors power forward since Chris Webber had one on Dec. 23, 1993, vs. the L.A. Clippers.It was the second triple-double of Lees career. His other one came when he was with the Knicks and playing against the Warriors on April 2, 2010. That night, Lee finished with 37 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists.Defense rests: As good as the Warriors were at the offensive end of the floor through three quarter, defensively, they struggled. Want proof? Well after three periods the Warriors were shooting 59.7 percent from the floor and yet only led 93-92.The Thunder were scoring pretty well themselves and shooting well, too. Through three quarters Oklahoma City was shooting 54 percent from the floor and 47.4 percent from 3-point range.Montas big half: Ellis had a monster first half, scoring 30 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field. It was obvious from the start that Ellis was going to be aggressive as he came out and took six shots in the first six minutes.Ellis had 18 points in the first quarter, marking a season-high for points in a quarter by any Warriors player this season.Nice start: The Warriors scored 35 points in the first quarter, the most points theyve scored in the first quarter of a game this year.No Nate: The Warriors played without backup point guard Nate Robinson, who had a strained left groin. Robinson sustained the injury early in the fourth quarter of Saturdays loss at Sacramento.Robinson continued to play the rest of the fourth quarter that night, then also returned for a portion of overtime.Warriors coach Mark Jackson seemed to think Robinson would play earlier in the day at shootaround, saying: He looks fine so we expect him to be ready.

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

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AP

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season. 

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.