Warriors

Panic at your own peril over Warriors' opening-night loss to Rockets

Panic at your own peril over Warriors' opening-night loss to Rockets

Well, there’s a nice stomp on the ring finger.

The Golden State Warriors, Team Invulnerable, are already last in the Western Conference after a 122-121 loss to the Houston Rockets, and with only 98 percent of the season left . . .

Oh, who’s kidding whom? It’s an opening night, and opening nights are often liars.

But it was a more comforting lie for the Rockets, who spent most of the night chasing Warriors leads and didn’t actually catch one until P.J. Tucker’s two free throws with 44 seconds to play survived a post-buzzer jumper by Kevin Durant. The Rockets walked off the court when referee Scott Foster properly waved off the Durant basket, and new Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta jumped about the floor like he’d just finished a fire ant-encrusted brisket.

And for a team that still has much to iron out with Chris Paul and James Harden, those free throws gave the Rockets a sense that they can run with the king – and therefore would make a fine prince regent.

True, it would be better to be the king, but nobody will take this game and declare the Warriors no longer prohibitive favorites. True, they needed an effervescent shooting night from new item on the menu Nick Young to just be close as it turned out, but one game is exactly one game and no more.

In other words, panic at your own peril.

Golden State’s defense was spotty throughout (Draymond Green got a half a coach’s per diem for his work with rookie Jordan Bell alone), and the rotations in particular were often sluggish by their standards. Giving up 34 points in the fourth quarter in a non-garbage-time situation will be a topic of discussion Wednesday, to be sure.

They were also cavalier with possessions (Kevin Durant had eight of the team’s 17 turnovers alone), and in many respects looked first-game disjointed.

Steve Kerr worked hard not to blame the ring ceremony and not because of the ravages of the China trip, or the lack of normal rest between seasons or any of the rest of it. But it is the price to be paid by the endlessly desirable – if there is money to be squeezed from this particular ATM, it will be, and those are just the conditions that prevail.

Besides, if the team’s conditioning is an issue, it should not be one by November 1. And if it is, then there are much larger concerns than getting winded. The first of those might be Green’s sore left knee, which will be examined on Wednesday but is not expected to reveal anything significant.

Then again, the Rockets did not look any sharper or different, and they skipped getting rings or Asia. They remained very Harden-centric, and Paul’s debut was hampered by a very balky left knee that reduced him in most practical ways to an adjunct to the typical Harden show.

But they were also a tough out, as they normally are. Head coach Mike D’Antoni said two days ago that his team wouldn’t stop the Warriors and that the Warriors wouldn’t stop him, and he was right both times. We said opening nights are liars, but that doesn’t mean people talking about opening nights necessarily are.

If you want the shiny bauble in the fish-shaped Jell-O mold, it is that the Warriors were light years worse in their last opener against San Antonio, when they lost, 129-100, and deserved to be beaten by more.

In addition, nothing they did or didn’t do is a difficult repair, and they don’t want to do anything at all to Young, who was easily the showiest of show-stoppers on a night that peaked very early and ended with a buzzer-beating.

One which Kerr said they richly deserved. So there’s that – with only 81 more games to fix the Western Conference’s worst team for one night.

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

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USATSI

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

Kevin Durant doesn't take it easy on anyone. Not even the children of teammate Zaza Pachulia.

After practice on Saturday in Philadelphia, Pachulia's two sons, Davit and Saba, were playing one-on-one at the facility the Warriors were using. Kevin Durant filmed one sequence and posted it to his Instagram Story.

One of Pachulia's sons grabbed the ball and drives around the other without dribbling. As he makes the shot, Durant offers his commentary and took a shot at the Warriors starting center.

"That's a travel. Such a travel. Same thing your pops do," Durant said, taking a shot at Pachulia.

Durant also had another message for Pachulia written on the video.

"Yo, @zazapachulia at some you have to teach the boys how to play off the bounce," Durant wrote.

Gameday: Warriors limited Embiid, Simmons once; Can they do it again?

Gameday: Warriors limited Embiid, Simmons once; Can they do it again?

After losing the biggest test of the season thus far, the Warriors will try to get back to winning Saturday, when they face the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 3:30, with tipoff scheduled for 4:35.

The Warriors (11-4), who are coming off their first loss in eight games, a 92-88 defeat at Boston on Thursday, laid a 135-114 beating on the 76ers one week ago in Oakland. They shot a season-high 58.5 percent from the field, including 51.9 percent beyond the arc.

The Sixers (8-6) started the season by losing four of their first five games but have recovered nicely, winning seven of their last nine. They rebounded from the loss to the Warriors by sweeping the Clippers and Lakers in Los Angeles earlier this week.

BETTING LINE:
Warriors by 8.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Draymond Green and Co. vs. Joel Embiid: The Warriors used a tag-team effort to lock down the Philadelphia big man last week, holding Embiid to 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting and seven rebounds while forcing seven turnovers. It was a lesson in team defense, and they’ll try to repeat that performance. No fewer than five Warriors -- Zaza Pachulia, Kevin Durant, JaVale McGee, David West and Green -- will get chances to defend Embiid, who responded to a poor game in Oakland by combining for 87 points and 31 rebounds in torching the Clippers and the Lakers in LA.

INJURY REPORT:
Warriors: No injuries listed. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

76ers: G Jerryd Bayless (L wrist bruise) is listed as questionable. G/F Justin Anderson (L shin splints), G Markelle Fultz (right shoulder scapular muscle imbalance) and G Nik Stauskas (R ankle sprain) are listed as out.

GAME OFFICIALS:
Tony Brothers (crew chief), Bennie Adams and Lauren Holtkamp.

SERIES HISTORY:
The Warriors have won the last nine meetings overall, the last four in Philadelphia. Their last loss in Philadelphia was on March 2, 2013.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
WHAT ABOUT STEPH? Stephen Curry has fallen into a bit of a shooting rut, and it’s not necessarily related to the thigh bruise sustained last Saturday against 76ers. He is 20-of-61 (32.8 percent) from the field, including 9-of-33 (27.3) from deep, over his last four games; he was 34-of-58 (58.6) and 18-of-32 (56.3) in the four games before that. He’ll get opportunities against the Philly defense. Can he snap out of it?

I-N-T-E-N-S-I-T-Y SPELLS INTENSITY: The Warriors are have a tough time shaking the habit of strolling through too many parts of games. After a first half in which they committed 13 turnovers and allowed Philly to shoot 52 percent, the Warriors last week used a third-quarter barrage to put the game away. After being freshly burned in Boston, expect them to bring some early fire, trying to bury the Sixers early and totally.

BEN SIMMONS PT. II: In sending a variety of defenders at the 6-foot-10 point guard, the Warriors kept Simmons off balance and turned him into a volume shooter. He took 17 shots, his second-highest total of the season, and made six. There is no reason to expect a substantial change, and this time the Warriors will add Andre Iguodala into the defensive mix.