W's defense spearheads win in Atlanta


W's defense spearheads win in Atlanta


Warriors 85, Hawks 82Players of the game: Monta Ellis didnt shoot the ball particularly well, but he made enough shots to help the Warriors win the game. Ellis finished with a team-high 24 points on 10-for-27 shooting.David Lee may have hit the biggest shot of his Warriors career, knocking down an inside shot with 30 seconds remaining to give the Warriors a two-point lead.Lee finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds.Said Lee: The play out of the timeout was the play we tried to run against Memphis (earlier loss) where they took the charge. This time I pulled up short and shot a floater to make the shot. You make the adjustments as you go along.We talk about losing some games down the stretch and learning from it. And I learned from it. We ran the same play tonight and I was able to complete it.Dominic McGuire got the start and set a defensive tone. He helped limit Joe Johnson throughout the game and he grabbed a team-high 15 rebounds.One thing about him, Jackson said of McGuire, is he embodies everything we preach from Day 1. Putting him in the lineup I knew exactly what I was going to get from him. Great defense, goes after every rebound. Just great energy and effort.Defense doesnt rest: The Warriors rebounded from a clunker with a nice defensive effort. The Warriors held the Hawks to just 34 percent shooting from the field, with the tone being set by McGuire and Ekpe Udoh.It was great all-around, Jackson said of his teams defense. We got after it. We made some mistakes but at the end of the day we competed, paid attention to the game plan, made them work and made them make shots on our terms. Overall I couldnt be more pleased about this victory.
3-point struggles: For the second consecutive game, the Warriors struggled from beyond the 3-point line. The Warriors missed nine of their first 10 3-point shots against the Hawks, and finished just 1-for-12 from beyond the arc.In Tuesdays 102-78 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, the Warriors made just 3-of-22 from 3-point range. The Warriors entered Wednesdays game shooting 36.8 percent from deep, tied for second in the league.McGuire gets nod: Warriors coach Mark Jackson went in a different direction with the starting lineup on Wednesday. When point guard Stephen Curry has missed games with injury, Jacksons M.O. has been to start rookie Charles Jenkins.But Jackson started defensive specialist Dominic McGuire for Curry, and matched him up against Joe Johnson. McGuire did his job at the start, playing nine first quarter minutes, grabbing seven rebounds and holding Johnson to just a field goal.Short stint for Curry: The Warriors played on Wednesday night without starting point guard Stephen Curry, the second consecutive game hes missed because of a strained tendon in his right foot.Well, that's not exactly true, in reality. Curry wound up playing three seconds, when Jackson put him in late to serve as a decoy. Jackson used Curry on the play where Lee ended up hitting the game-winning shot.Curry sustained the injury in the first quarter of last Wednesdays game against the Phoenix Suns. The Warriors are calling Currys injury day-to-day, which would make a return Friday against Philadelphia a possibility. Curry has missed 11 games this season because of injury.

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'


Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season. 

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

The Warriors are not ready to flip their seek-and-destroy switch. Not yet.

They’re closer to being ready than, say, their longtime rivals in Cleveland, but in going 2-2 on this four-game road trip the Warriors showed they are nowhere near full annihilation mode.

They went into Oklahoma City Wednesday night and, in gulping down a 108-91 loss on national TV, came away looking more vulnerable than they have in any game this season. The 17-point loss was their largest margin of defeat and this was awful close to being a wire-to-wire rout.

The Warriors defense, so splendid during the seven-game win streak they took out of town last week, was inconsistent throughout and downright atrocious by their standards as they concluded the trip.

Their offense, which had begun reducing the turnovers to acceptable levels, came apart like a pair of $3 sneakers.

Even their body language, aside from two well-deserved technical fouls, seemed to mostly vacillate between whispers and a whimpers.

“We didn’t have any focus or concentration,” coach Steve Kerr said. “The ‘millennials’ couldn’t lock in tonight. And their coach couldn’t do much either. Long night for us.”

These were not the Warriors who posted seven consecutive double-digit wins, and they’re certainly not the team that found its competitive blowtorches last April. They weren’t visible in this game, nor were they seen for most of this road trip.

This, ahem, regular-season road trip.

That’s the catch. Last April is when the playoffs got underway, and next April is when the 2018 playoffs begin. The time between now and then is for experimenting, fine-tuning and fighting through the monotonous joys of victory -- a factor on vivid display Wednesday night.

“We played with some decent energy,” Stephen Curry said. “We just didn’t play smart.”

“They completely outplayed us, outcoached us,” Kerr said. “It was just their night. It was absolutely their night. They brought the energy, they brought the juice, they brought the intelligence. And we didn’t bring any of that.”

The Warriors entered the game after studying video and stats that illustrated OKC’s ability to disrupt an offense. The Thunder leads the NBA in steals, deflections and -- this one punches the Warriors in the gut -- forcing turnovers.

The Warriors committed 22 giveaways, leading directly to 34 Thunder points.

“Thirty-four points off turnovers, you can’t win like that,” Draymond Green said.

“I’ve got to do a better job of getting them ready to play,” Kerr said. “We have a pretty loose, fun atmosphere around here. That’s great, but there are certain times where it’s like, ‘All right guys. Let’s throw it to our team. Let’s execute the play. Let’s remember the play.’ ”

Kevin Durant bemoaned the “silly turnovers” that were such a factor in the game, blaming it players rather than Kerr and his staff.

“For the most part he can’t control that type of stuff,” said Durant, whose four turnovers were second to Curry’s team-high six. “We’ve got to be better at keeping the ball in our hands, shooting more shots than our opponents and playing defense.”

Added Green: “We were pretty well-prepared. We just played bad.”

That happens to even the best of teams, a category in which the defending champions fit quite snugly. No team, not even the Chicago Bulls of the maniacally competitive Michael Jordan, is able to bring its best for 82 games a season.

The Warriors blew two 17-point leads, one in second quarter and another in the third, in losing at Boston.

They fell behind by 24 in the third quarter to the 76ers before coming back to win in Philadelphia before recovering the next night to submit their best performance of the trip in routing Brooklyn.

And in OKC, against a Thunder team that would seem to get their full attention, the Warriors were outhustled, outsmarted and played with considerably less fury.

“Right now, we’re just in a little bit of rut, where we’ve got to focus,” Kerr said. “And I know we will. We’ve done this many times in the past and bounced back. And we’ll bounce back. We need to lock in and tighten up everything.”

They will, eventually. It could happen next week, or next month, or after the calendar turns to 2018. They’ll turn it on and become the team of terror, punishing all before them. It might be April, though.

This road game indicated some truth, though, which is there will be games over the next four months in which they will lose the battle with themselves.