Warriors should find no solace in NBA admitting missed calls vs Cavs

Warriors should find no solace in NBA admitting missed calls vs Cavs

Damn the crypto-skeletal Adam Silver and his transparency fetish. Damn officiating crew chief Mike Callahan for missing the Richard Jefferson trip and the LeBron James rim-hang. Damn the excuse machine that allows the Golden State Warriors and their well-cushioned fans to feel hard done by in Cleveland Sunday.

The hard and enduring fact is this: San Francisco-In-Training blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead at the home of their archest of rivals of their volition. They decided they were home and dry when they were neither. They declined numerous opportunities to take care of the ball at the most important time of the game. They seemed to forget that Cleveland is the hardest team for them to play in the entire world, and that a 14-point lead over LeBron James should not be taken as an invitation to fall back in love with the step-back jumper when they lead was built with hard-nosed/to-the-basket playoff-level basketball.

And in all these ways, they allowed Callahan and his fellow accomplices, Sean Corbin and Matt Boland, to become factors that the league had to apologize for a day later.

All those things are on the Warriors themselves. Indeed, when they are offered the opportunity to use the late-game officiating as a way to explain how they failed, they should angrily and aggressively decline. Steve Kerr should actually come out and say, “We are glad that those calls went incorrectly against us because it is the only way for us to learn the lessons we must learn to see to it that this never ever happens again . . . until, of course, the next time it happens.”

You see, stuff like Sunday happens to the best of teams – it just happens rarely enough to be conspicuous.

The Warriors should have closed the deal because they could have done so, and because they know how to do so. They should have treated their five-possession lead down the stretch with far greater care (six turnovers in the fourth quarter when you average 14 a game is, well, poor) because they have enough experience with the Cavs to know how much work that takes.

The Cavs, you see, can lay justifiable claim to being more tough-minded than the Warriors, and being given a chance to alter that notion by showing a resoluteness and devotion to the things that got them there over the first 40 minutes, they failed demonstrably.

That’s your two-minute report right there, Junior. That’s your takeaway.

You see, the standards are different for Golden State, by their own creation. They’ve won too often, and improved their rotation more dramatically, to be given mulligans via Callahan. They are supposed to dictate terms at all possible times, and while they will occasionally get hammered by someone because they are human beings who occasionally fall short of their best selves, they aren’t going to be afforded that luxury against the LeBrons . . . in Cleveland . . . on Christmas Day . . . before a massive captive-by-tryptophan audience . . . with a hefty fourth-quarter lead.

They were winning Sunday by being as tough-minded as Cleveland . . . by going to the basket with purpose and repetition . . . by forcing pace and pressure. They did get hammered on the offensive boards, but that’s almost a number to be endured against a team as dramatically better at that as the Cavs.

And then they reverted to the maddening inattentions to detail that they can get away with in so-so home games against the Portlands and Utahs and Indianas, and lost a game that defines them yet again as “less than the Cavs when it matters most.”

Which is why the NBA’s announcement that the officials failed to call the James hang-by-the-rim technical or the Jefferson-lazy-soccer-tackle on Durant at game’s end isn’t helpful in the greater scheme of things. True, NBA officiating has deteriorated in significant ways over the last decade or so, to the point in which the best way for a quality team to combat that fact is to choke games into submission by powering through the corrosive temptation of let’s-enjoy-what-we’ve-done-while-we’re-still-doing-it self-satisfaction.

In short, to maintain one’s competitive nature so comprehensively that the officials get noticed only when they are walking off the floor at game’s end.

This, then, is the real lesson of Christmas for the Warriors: Don't let someone undo your work because you couldn't be bothered to finish it. After all, a present isn’t a gift until it’s wrapped, stuck under the tree and then unwrapped again by the recipient. Until that moment, it’s all just shopping.

Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays


Steph Curry knows it comes with risk, but he's not going to change the way he plays

OAKLAND -- When he returns to the Warriors, likely on Friday, Stephen Curry will alter nothing about his game despite coming off a four-month period during which his surgically repaired right ankle endured multiple aggravations.

He’ll be the same Curry that fans have come to know, diving into passing lanes on defense while firing up 3-pointers and darting in and out of paint traffic on offense.

It’s the only way he knows how to play, and he’s played long enough to accept that it comes with risk.

“When I wake up in the morning I’ll know the difference between my right (ankle) and my left,” Curry said Thursday after practice. “But that won’t stop me from being who I am on the floor and having confidence in myself when I get back out there.”

Curry missed 11 games after spraining his ankle on Dec. 4 in New Orleans. He missed two games after tweaking it in shootaround on Jan 10. He missed no games after tweaking it March 2 in Atlanta. He has missed the last six games after tweaking it on March 8 against the Spurs.

“I’ve been very durable over the course of my career,” said Curry, who is listed as probable but fully expects to play Friday against Atlanta. “It’s just that I’ve had three untimely, freak accidents happen.”

Curry stepped on E’twaun Moore’s foot in New Orleans, on Zaza Pachulia’s foot in Atlanta and Dejounte Murray’s foot against the Spurs at Oracle Arena.

Not once in the previous five regular seasons did Curry miss significant time due to his tricky ankle. He missed a total of 16 games during that span, never more than four in a season, and six of those were for reasons of rest.

This season, however, has tested Curry’s patience like nothing since 2011-12, after which he had his second ankle surgery. He concedes that being in and out of the lineup has left him at times feeling “boredom, monotony and frustration.”

Though some of that can be attributed to the rehab process, there is no doubt part of that stems from watching the Warriors from the sideline.

With Curry out of the lineup this season, the Warriors are 13-8 (he missed one game with a hand bruise, another with a thigh bruise). That they are 40-10 when he’s in the lineup illustrates his importance.

It’s not just that he’s important. Curry is the catalyst for the offense and he can only be that if he is playing without regard for the possibility of injury. A hesitant Curry can’t be an effective Curry, so full throttle is the only way to go.

"If we’re trying to win a championship, I need to be out there,” he said. “That’s a given. We want every single guy out there, healthy and available, myself included. That’s the ideal situation.”

If he gets hurt along the way, so be it. As man of faith, he believes that anything that happens is influenced by a higher power.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting 3s or pullups are going into the lane or playing defense, that’s liable to happen any time,” Curry said. “Other than those instances, I haven’t had anything to worry about on the injury front. We are prisoners of the moment when it comes (playing the game). I don’t feel like I’m at a point where I have to change anything based on me being a durable player and being on the court consistently.

“Down the line, if you ask me about it in three of four years, there might be something I might need to change. But not right now.”

There is a segment of fans, worried about Curry’s health and realizing it is tied to the fate of the team, who would like him to dial back his aggression. Maybe avoid the paint and settle for more jump shots. He’s heard the advice and is not unwilling to launch a few more shots from deep.

But Curry is going to go where he sees daylight, and the best chance to make a positive play. He’ll take his chances because hesitation has no place in his mind or his game.


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'


How Iguodala helped Looney get career on track, 'I finally listened to him...'

Back in late October, the Warriors declined their $2.3 million team option on Kevon Looney for the 2018-19 season.

How did that make him feel?

"It was kind of a let down," Looney told Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson on the Warriors Plus/Minus Podcast. "I knew it was up in the air. It was going back and forth, back and forth. When they didn't pick it up -- they told me why, I understood, I've been here for three years, I've seen a lot of players come and go; I know basketball is a business -- I was kind of let down.

"But I knew I was going to try and make the most of it. Now I'm playing for my contract for next year. I just wanted to go prove myself. I knew this summer there was a lot of doubts about what I could do. People were doubting if I would even be in the NBA still ... I knew what I was capable of."

Looney underwent surgery on his right hip in August 2015, and appeared in just five games during his rookie season.

He then had surgery on his left hip in April 2016, and appeared in 53 games (8.4 minutes per night) during the 2016-17 season.

This year, he's averaging career highs in points (3.5), rebounds (2.9), blocks (0.7) and minutes (12.0).

"This summer, I decided I just wanted to try go back to the way I played in college. It's been working for me," Looney explained. "I lost about 30 pounds this offseason and it's really made me a lot faster and a lot quicker. And I've been staying healthy."

How did he drop all that weight?

"A lot of broccoli and turkey and plain food. Food that wasn't that good but it's something that I had to get used to," Looney said. "Taco Bell, fried chicken, I was eating that on the regular ... coming off of injury, you can't eat like that. It's a different level of intensity in the NBA.

"I had to change my diet. Andre (Iguodala) was in my ear for two years about it. I finally listened to him and it paid off."

Looney will become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Although the Warriors declined the option, the 22-year old could return to Golden State -- but the max amount the Warriors can offer him is $2.3 million.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller