Win over Sixers may be what Warriors need to recalibrate themselves

Win over Sixers may be what Warriors need to recalibrate themselves

OAKLAND -- The Golden State Warriors will take some solace in knowing they did not start the last 20 percent of their season with a ghastly home loss to the Philadelphia-Seventy-For-God’s-Sake-Sixers.

In fact, as part of their never-mind-what-you-see-just-listen-to-what-we-tell-you campaign that they have employed over the past two weeks, they postulated that Tuesday’s 106-104 victory over the Not-Nearly-As-Bad-As-They-Used-To-Bes was just the thing they needed to recalibrate themselves for the final 15 games of their Durantless season.

You can buy it if you want to, but that sound of Steve Kerr retching into the trunk of his car is unmistakable.

For three quarters they were as listless as they were aimless, defending without commitment, rebounding only intermittently, taking a laissez-faire approach to loose balls and shooting more out of hope than purpose. They trailed the Sixers by 16 points with 1:55 left in the third quarter, and they deserved every bit of the distance.

But because they are the Warriors, they can do the thing all coaches hate to see because of what it typically says about their team – they can make themselves invincible at a moment’s warning, to the point where they almost come to take its existence as an endlessly renewable resource.

Which is rich, given the fact that they had lost five of their previous seven games playing just as they had Tuesday. Yet the fact is that they still can do it, as Klay Thompson said with typical subsonic blandness.

“We’re gonna find our groove,” he said. “We’re not concerned at all. We’re gonna be all right.”

And because he doesn’t like wasting energy telling meaningless fibs, you tend to believe him when he says it. They are the Warriors. They eat souls when food is not available.

Which brings us to Draymond Green, whose pointed second quarter lecture to the other enlisted men about how hard it is to break out of a rut took on an almost singular ferocity in the fourth quarter. He scored seven points, which isn’t that noteworthy, but they came with four rebounds, three blocks and a brilliant tactical foul on Dario Saric with 2.6 seconds left and a 106-103 lead.

He was, in short, the spur (no pun intended) in the Warriors’ exposed flanks that caused them to stop, at least for the moment, their barrel-roll into Ordinary Flats.

“I just reminded the guys that we’ve been in a little bit of a rut,” he said, “and that the only way to change that is to grind yourself out, grind your way out of it . . . you don’t go into a rut and then come out and hit 20 threes. It just don’t work like that. Once we started to defend, everything else started to go our way.”

Oh, there were other hints that they weren’t that far from their A-games. Stephen Curry, in the midst of his worst shooting slump since he was playing for free, broke out a 12-point fourth quarter to mask the 4-for-17 he offered before that. Thompson was solid throughout en route to a 28-point, five-trey night, and Andre Iguodala was more intrepid offensively in his 33 minutes of play.

Still, it’s home, it’s the Sixers, and it’s a game they led for barely 10 minutes. By the rules of run of play, they should have lost discordantly, and comprehensively.

But because they are who they are, as we have covered, they typically run the run of play because they remain at their essence the most combustible team in the game, at both ends of the floor and in the tunnel on their way to and from the game. They find the pilot light and turn it into a bonfire when they need to – almost when they feel like it.

They have to feel like it a lot now, however. The final 15 games of the regular season, which should have been a turgid countdown toward winning the top seed in the West while waiting for Durant’s knee to stop misbehaving, are now a measure of what the Warriors can do with a bit of desperation in their bellies. It is hard to imagine Kerr so toeing the Popovichian party line on the meaninglessness of seeding that he would rather the Warriors open the postseason with Memphis or Oklahoma City than Denver or Portland.

Indeed, with an eye toward breaking out of their blah, he tweaked his rotations to find better minutes for Shaun Livingston, more minutes for Ian Clark, better shots for Curry, some four-time from Matt Barnes and some sign of ignitions from big men Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee. He will tweak more as the Warriors try to relocate their swagger, or at least pimp their grinding so it looks a little more like swagger and a little less like hotplate panic.

And in the end, he got Green’s most ornery leadership, a few late shots from Curry after three quarters of awful (4-for-17, and a near full-on case of the yips), the defense that made the Warriors the Warriors, and a lesson he can use until they regain their routine equilibrium.

If it were only that simple . . . no, wait. Apparently, the Warriors are hell-bent on proving that it can be just that.

Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns


Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns

The Warriors have lost three of their last four games, their roster is in shambles and, still, they look like pure gold in contrast to the Suns team they’re facing Saturday night in Phoenix.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6 o’clock, with tipoff scheduled for 7:05.

Reeling from the absences of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, the Warriors (52-17) showed plenty of the scrap in losing to the Kings on Friday in Oakland but couldn’t get much offense from their veterans.

The Suns (19-51) are having the worst season since 1968-69, their inaugural season. They’ve lost seven in a row, 16 of their last 17 and 21 of their last 23.


Warriors by 3


Quinn Cook vs. Elfrid Payton: Payton bolted to a 16-point first quarter and scored 29 the last time he faced the Warriors. Quinn is coming off a career-high 25-point game. With teams relying on diminished rosters, whichever of the two young PGs can set a tone gives his team an advantage.


Warriors: G Omri Casspi (R ankle sprain), G Stephen Curry (R ankle tweak), F Kevin Durant (R rib soreness), G Pat McCaw (L wrist fracture) and G Klay Thompson (R thumb fracture) are listed as out.

Suns: G Devin Booker (R hand sprain) and F Alan Williams (R meniscus tear) are listed as questionable. G Brandon Knight (L ACL tear) is listed as out.


Warriors: 7-3.

Suns: 1-9.


Tony Brothers (crew chief), Jacyn Goble, James Williams


The Warriors won the first of four meetings this season, 129-83 on Feb. 12 at Oracle Arena. They swept all four games last season and are 12-1 against the Suns in the Steve Kerr era.


MOTIVATED VETS: Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, David West and Nick Young, expected to generate offense, combined to shoot 19-of-59 (32.2 percent) in a five-point loss Friday. They must be better; they can’t be much worse. Phoenix leads the NBA in points allowed.

THE BIG MEN: JaVale McGee started nine straight games at center, but Pachulia started the last two. The Suns are long up front, so McGee could be in line for a start or more minutes. In addition, Damian Jones, the team’s other 7-footer, also could get playing time.

STREAKING WITH THREES: The Suns own the longest active streak of games with at least one 3-point make (1,128). The Warriors are No. 2 (1,121). Both streaks are endangered. Curry, Thompson and Durant are out for the Warriors. Booker will either sit out or play with a splint on his shooting hand.

Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss

Cook gives injured Warriors 'huge boost' in anomalous loss

OAKLAND -- If Quinn Cook plays at anything close to the level he performed Friday night against the Kings, the Warriors should avoid any catastrophic stumbling in the absence of their top three scorers.

They stumbled plenty in a 98-93 loss to Sacramento, but not because of Cook. The two-way player who has spent most of the season with G-League Santa Cruz scored a team-high 25 points, shot 10-of-13 from the field and played respectable defense.

He did more than could have been reasonably expected.

“I felt like this was coming,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He was fantastic. He really lit it up and gave us a huge boost.”

The Warriors ran into problems elsewhere, shared among the usually reliable veterans who need to be particularly reliable in the absence of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

Usual starters Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia combined to shoot 6-of-20.

Usual reserves Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West and Nick Young shot a collective 13-of-39.

In the second half, when Warriors mustered only 34 points -- a season-low for any half -- the six vets combined to take 32 shots and missed 24.

Those are atrocious numbers and they explain what went wrong in a game that was there for the taking.

They’re also an anomaly.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Green said. “But we got some good shots. We got ‘Dre on a couple of pull-ups in the lane, I got a couple open shots, Nick got a couple open shots, Zaza got a couple open ones. D-West had one pop in and out. (Kevon Looney) had two pop in and out.

“We just got cold. But hopefully those shots will fall tomorrow.”

West, returning after missing four games with a cyst on his right arm, was 1-of-6 from the field. He came into this game as a 60.8-percent shooter this season.

Igoudala was 4-of-10; he shot 70 percent over the previous 10 games. Young was 5-of-15, well below his 44-percent shooting this season. Livingston’s 3-of-8 shooting is uncharacteristic of someone shooting at least 50 percent for four years running.

If history is any indication, Green (5-of-14) and Pachulia (1-of-6) are not going continue to miss at the rate they did in this game, the first this season in which the Warriors were without all three of their top scorers.

If history is any indication, the Warriors can’t be counted on to score 34 points on 27.3-percent shooting in the second half of a game.

“I loved how our guys battled,” Kerr said. “They really competed well and made some big plays. We just couldn’t get the ball to go down quite enough in the second half.”

That’s going to change, perhaps as soon as Saturday night in Phoenix, were the Suns are playing to lose.

So if Cook plays steady basketball, the Warriors will fall off and their fans won’t become a basket case while waiting for the three shooters. The Warriors surely believe that.

“He really showed up. I’ve been waiting on that Quinn,” Green said. “We needed that. It was great for him to come out and play like that. And most importantly, his shots were falling. Since he’s been playing (more often) he’s been playing well, but his shots weren’t really falling. But tonight, they fell for him.”

They won’t always fall at a rate of 77 percent. They won’t have to once his teammates drop in a few more of their own shots.