Warriors

Road Warriors find their mojo in dominant three-game sweep

curry-us.jpg
USATSI

Road Warriors find their mojo in dominant three-game sweep

It didn’t matter to the Warriors that the Nuggets were playing for the second consecutive night and the third time in four nights.

This was about the Warriors continuing to get right with themselves, and their 127-108 clobbering of the Nuggets on Saturday in Denver was another step in the direction in which they want to go.

It was an exquisite way for the defending champs to end a three-game road trip, considering the Warriors departed a week ago wearing the discomfort that came with an Oct. 29 loss to the Pistons at Oracle Arena.

“We just got better,” Draymond Green told reporters in Denver. “We’re starting to put it together on both ends of the floor. We’re taking better care of the ball and we’re playing better defense. That’s the recipe and we know that. It took us a couple weeks to lock into that but I think we’ve gotten there and we need to keep it up.”

When the Warriors opened the season losing two of their first three games and were 4-3 after seven games, there was concern within the fan base. It was a reasonable reaction, too, given they didn’t lose their third game last season until December.

Were the Warriors still feeling the effects of their disruptive preseason, when they spent a week in training camp in Oakland, followed by eight days in China, followed by eight days back in Oakland?

Unquestionably, yes. They appeared physically sluggish and, all too often, imprudent.

The players and coaches recognized the shortcomings and the reasons behind them and were confident adjustments would be made once they took to the road.

“Getting on the road was good for us in terms of planting that fear,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Sometimes you need to get on the road to feel more threatened. A team like (the Warriors), especially that’s used to being successful, I thought we took a couple of those home games for granted and we weren’t defending or bringing energy.”

Though the Warriors never were in real danger while beating the Clippers by 28 in LA, they needed comebacks to trounce the Spurs by 20 and the Nuggets by 19.

“The Clippers always bring the best out in us because we know they’re in our division and they play us tough and we’ve got to bring it,” Kerr said.

After struggling on defense over the first seven games, the Warriors seemed to rediscover that aspect, which has been one of their strengths. They held opponents on the trip to 43.5-percent shooting, 31.5 percent beyond the arc.

As the defense surfaced, the Warriors also continued to shoot well, averaging 55.1 percent from the field over the three games. Moreover, they were incredibly deadly beyond the arc, shooting 47.4 percent.

“The last few games we’ve been shooting hot,” said Kevin Durant, who during the three games shot 59.5 percent and 53.3 percent from deep. “We want to continue to do that and I think we’ve been generating good looks. We’re making the right passes, making the right plays and guys are trusting their work and knocking down their shots. We’ve got to continue that if we want to be successful.”

Kerr said it was a “good week,” and who can argue. The Warriors left Oakland with a 4-3 record. They were 7-3 upon their return.

And now they’ll be home, playing four games over nine days. The physical and mental aspects are coming together. It’s early, yet, but it’s Go Time nonetheless.

Jordan Bell enjoys trolling Bulls

jordan_bell_dunk_ap_.jpg

Jordan Bell enjoys trolling Bulls

OAKLAND -- Jordan Bell fessed up. Got honest. Came clean. Snitched on himself.

After saying Friday morning that he held no grudge against the franchise that drafted him, the Warriors rookie admitted Friday night that enjoyed every moment, including several memorable highlights, in a 143-94 win over the Bulls at Oracle Arena.

A good feeling, eh?

“I’m not going to lie. It was,” Bell said. “Just because of everything that happened. I know I said at first, coming in to the game, that I wasn’t really thinking about it. But then everybody kept reminding me about it today, so it felt pretty good.”

Though Chicago drafted Bell last June, it was at the direction of the Warriors, who bought his rights for cash considerations that amounted to $3.5 million.

Making his first NBA start, for a resting Draymond Green, Bell played 27 minutes, contributing 7 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Oh, and six blocks.

Six.

“They were all impressive,” coach Steve Kerr marveled.

With exquisite timing, Bell chased down Bulls forward Denzel Valentine for a one block in the third quarter, slamming the ball off the backboard to trigger a Warriors fast break.

On another, in the fourth quarter, Bell initially protected the rim against a driving Paul Zipser, who was forced to pump-fake and pass to Quincy Pondexter, whose layup attempt was rejected outright on Bell’s second leap.

“That’s probably my favorite one, just because everybody thought they were going to score,” Bell said. “It was a good hustle play.”

Bell acknowledged making several mental mistakes, particularly defending Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen, but generally seemed pleased with his part in a runaway victory.

He even caught and slammed a lob pass from, of all teammates, Zaza Pachulia, on a two-man fast break.

Bell most assuredly was pleased with his last offensive sequence, stealing a Pondexter pass and starting a solo fast break, crossing over Zipser before he dropped in a layup. 

After making the shot, Bell rubbed his fingers in each hand, in the international sign for “money,” while mouthing the words “three point five.”

“I wanted to see how ‘Cash Considerations’ was playing over there,” Bell said about as smoothly as possible while sprinkling sarcasm.

He had thought about trolling the Bulls from the moment he was told on Wednesday he would start. As the game neared, he decided he’d better stick to preparing for the game. It worked out just fine.

Steve Kerr uses playing cards as his latest pregame prop for Warriors news

Steve Kerr uses playing cards as his latest pregame prop for Warriors news

For his latest trick, Steve Kerr brought out a deck of cards Friday night in Oakland. 

With Kevin Durant and Draymond Green out against the Bulls, Kerr was ready to announce who would replace them. Get your phones ready reporters.

"You guys ready to tweet?" Kerr asked reporters. "We're gonna start Omri and Jordan Bell." 

Kerr then began to shuffle his deck of cards and said, "As soon as you're down tweeting, we'll resume human contact. But in the meantime, stare at your phones, ignore me, I'm just practicing my shuffling." 

Casspi, in his first year with the Warriors, is averaging 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game through 15 games. The rookie Bell has played in 12 games and is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. 

Friday night is Bell's first career start. 

Kerr's pregame prop list now includes a nail clipper, a Rubbik's cube, a slinky, and playing cards.