Schroder, Howard bicker during Hawks' loss to Warriors

Schroder, Howard bicker during Hawks' loss to Warriors

ATLANTA -- Dennis Schroder sounds miffed about getting benched. Dwight Howard insists it's no big deal. Mike Budenholzer says his team has got to learn play together.

One thing is certain: The Atlanta Hawks are in a bit of disarray heading toward the final month of the regular season.

Schroder was yanked early in the third quarter of Monday night's 119-111 loss to the Golden State Warriors after arguing with Howard about an errant pass.

While the two were angrily exchanging words, the Warriors got the ball to Stephen Curry for an open 3-pointer.

Budenholzer wound up sending Schroder to the bench with 8:41 to go in the third, even though he led the Hawks with 23 points. The 23-year-old German never returned, merely a spectator as Atlanta took its sixth loss in eight games to slip back further in the Eastern Conference standings.

"I don't understand Coach's decision," Schroder said. "Maybe I'm too competitive, I don't know. I'm just trying to be competitive, trying to win games. But I don't get that one."

Budenholzer was tight-lipped, calling it a "coaching decision."

"We need to learn to play together and stay together for 48 minutes," he said. "That's something that's very important to us."

Schroder has run into other problems in his first year as a Hawks starter. After the All-Star break, he was late reporting back to the team and served a one-game suspension . Then, the very next night, he was late for the team bus and came off the bench for a game at Orlando.

Now, it looks as if he is headed for a summit with Budenholzer and Howard.

"We've got to figure it out, me and coach," Schroder said. "I want to talk about it. Dwight's got to be in there, too. Get on the same page. Then we're going be all right."

Howard downplayed the incident and said he looks forward to smoothing things over with his teammate, but the whole affair raised more troubling questions about an eight-time All-Star center who joined Atlanta this season with a reputation for causing problems in the locker room.

"It happens during the course of the game," he said. "It just cost us a 3. It's something that we've got to make sure we nip it in the bud quick, and move on to the next play."

Howard said disagreements are bound to pop up during the course of the season.

"Listen, we're a team," he said. "It's OK if we have conversations. It's not always conflict when you have a conversation with your coach or a team meeting. That's what you're supposed to do. So, by him wanting to have a meeting and talk, it's great. It's great for our team. It's great for each other. We're all open to it."

Still, it wasn't a good sign for a team that has struggled all season to find some consistency .

The Hawks, who were the top seed in the East just two seasons ago, are now three games out of a home-court edge in the first round of the playoffs. If they don't turn things around soon, they could be facing a challenge from teams below them in the standings.

Indiana has closed within two games of Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago are three games back, and streaking Miami looks like one of the league's most dangerous teams after a dismal start.

Schroder's benching came after he got off to a magnificent start against the Warriors. He scored 19 points in the first quarter - his most ever in a period - and knocked down four shots beyond the 3-point arc. By the half, he had 23 points and seemed on his way to setting a career high.

He didn't get the chance.

Schroder conceded he should have waited until a timeout or dead ball to raise his concerns with Howard, instead of bickering in the middle of the court.

"They got a 3 right out of it," he said. "I've got to do better."

The other Atlanta players are eager to snuff out any signs of a lingering feud. They're going to need both Schroder and Howard to have any shot at turning things around this season.

"When you play basketball, especially in a game like this, emotions are high and everybody is quick to react," Thabo Sefolosha said. "But at the end of the day, we're a team and we've got to play as a team. I'm sure they're going to talk between the two of them and they're going to be fine."

Hopeful night at Oracle turns solemn after Curry sprains left MCL

Hopeful night at Oracle turns solemn after Curry sprains left MCL

OAKLAND -- The words came dribbling out slowly, ruefully and with more than a trace of despair.

JaVale McGee, the 7-foot accidental villain, could barely speak about his role Friday night in the moment that left the Warriors pleading for mercy while their fans were screaming at the sky.

Stephen Curry, returning to the lineup after a six-game absence due to a right ankle sprain, lasted 25 minutes before sustaining another injury, this one a sprain to his left MCL. The two-time MVP will undergo an MRI test Saturday.

“I pray to God,” McGee said, “that nothing’s wrong with him.”

The injury occurred with 3:09 left in the third quarter. After biting on a pump fake by Atlanta forward Mike Muscala, McGee wound up tumbling backward, with his 270 pounds landing directly at the front Curry legs. Curry immediately started limping away, with the sellout crowd at Oracle Arena gasping in horror.

“I was trying to block a shot,” McGee said beneath a vacant stare, “and I ran into him.”

That’s the kind of month it has been for the Warriors. All four of their All-Stars have been knocked out of action by an array of injuries.

Curry went down March 8 after tweaking his surgically repaired right ankle. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were injured March 11 at Minnesota, Durant sustaining a rib cartilage injury after taking a elbow from 7-foot Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns and Thompson spraining his right thumb after making contact with Minnesota point guard Jeff Teague.

Draymond Green began the next week as the team’s only healthy All-Star, a distinction that lasted eight days before he was struck down with a pelvic contusion Monday night in San Antonio.

“It’s like a juju or something on us,” McGee said. “I’ve never been part of a team where everybody just got injured, especially the starters. It’s kind of scary to tell the truth.”

Durant, Thompson and Green were unavailable Friday night, which is why Curry’s return was so encouraging. After a 2-point first quarter during which he went 1-of-6 from the floor, Curry found his stroke and over his next 16 minutes scored 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

Then came the most frightening moment of the night, throwing a massive damper on a 106-94 victory.

“I assumed it was his ankle when he came out hobbling and I found it was his knee,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We will see what the MRI says tomorrow.

“There is not a whole lot we can do or predict. It’s kind of a strange, cruel twist of fate. He rehabs his ankle for the last couple of weeks and gets that strong and the knee goes. We’ll see what happens. Fingers crossed.”

The Warriors came out of the All-Star break fairly healthy and ready to make a run at the No. 1 overall seed. They’ve achieved it in each of the last three seasons, coming away with two championships.

Hopes of getting there this season have disappeared under a pile of injuries, all of them coming over the last 16 days. As of late Friday night, there was no knowing how serious Curry’s injury is, or how long he might be out.

What’s known is that it was another in a succession of frightful moments.

“It’s a little somber in there,” Kerr said of the locker room. “Everybody feels for Steph. But it’s more a case of just keep going and keep pushing forward. We’ll come into tomorrow, short practice and get ready for Utah.”

That’s at the request of the schedule. That’s a dose of NBA reality on a grim night.

McGee didn’t seem ready for that. He was feeling awful about the entire episode.

“I can’t describe it,” he said of the play that followed everyone into the night. “Everybody has a TV. I fell into him and . . . I know y’all (reporters) don’t think I’m standing here like, ‘Yes, I fell into him.’

“That’s a star player. Of course, we don’t want him to be injured, especially after he came back. So I feel very bad for the fact that I was a part of that.”

McGee said he hopes Curry is out no more than a couple games.

The Warriors would be ever so pleased if it’s a couple weeks. They want to be whole for the postseason,, the only season by which they will be measured and a season that, on this night, nobody was of a mood to visualize.

Curry limps to locker room with left MCL sprain, does not return vs Hawks

Curry limps to locker room with left MCL sprain, does not return vs Hawks

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry lasted 25 minutes Friday night before limping out of another game.

He was diagnosed with a sprained left MCL and did not return after sustaining the injury.

Curry came up limping after center JaVale McGee, leaping for a rebound, tumbled backward into his lower legs with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter of the Warriors-Hawks game at Oracle Arena.

Immediately, the sellout crowd let out a collective groan.

Curry, his face a mask of dejection, headed for the bench, where he was examined by Warriors physical performance specialist Chelsea Lane. The two then headed into the locker room.

Curry scored a team-high 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before leaving the game. This was his first appearance since March 8, when he tweaked his surgically repaired right ankle, causing him to miss six games.

Curry has missed 21 of the team’s 71 games. He will undergo an MRI on Saturday, and his status beyond that is yet to be determined. 

This story is being updated.