D'Angelo Russell

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 126-93 preseason loss to Lakers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 126-93 preseason loss to Lakers

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The Warriors on Wednesday night got their first -- and what they hope will be last -- look at themselves without Stephen Curry, and the picture that emerged was predictably hideous.

With their halting efforts at defense consistently exploited and their offense failing to materialize, the Warriors suffered through a 126-93 preseason loss to a Lakers team that showed not a moment of mercy at Staples Center.

Curry is healthy but was given the night off, joining a long list of injured Warriors on the sideline. Though he may have made a difference, the Lakers seemed to be on a mission to destroy.

Here are three quick takeaways from a game for which the video review will be unkind to the Warriors:

One for Russell’s trash bin

Curry’s absence gave D'Angelo Russell his first chance to orchestrate the action, and it did not go well. Indeed, it often looked like that bad (17-65) Lakers team D-Lo joined as a rookie in 2015.

And Russell definitely contributed to the defensive mess with numerous blown assignments, late switches and a couple plays when he simply failed to engage.

To make matters worse, Russell didn’t offset things with his offense. Though he scored a team-high 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting (3-of-8 from beyond the arc), he also had more turnovers than assists (four to three) and never seemed to generate any offensive rhythm for the team.

Perhaps this is all part of the development process. He has spent plenty of time working with Curry, during the offseason and thus far this preseason. The two often display a measure of comfort when playing off each other.

With Curry out, Russell appeared to be trapped by a measure of uncertainty, thinking rather than playing. That’s not unusual when there are such unfamiliar surroundings.

Defense exposed again

As the Lakers were running layup drills, 3-point shooting exhibitions and baseline-to-baseline fastbreaks, the Warriors did a little bit of reaching and a lot of watching.

Two nights after coach Steve Kerr urged improvement on defense, the Warriors allowed LA to roll up 104 points in the first three quarters -- before LeBron James and Anthony Davis retired in the fourth -- while shooting 61.5 percent (40-of-65) from the field, including a staggering 60.9 percent (14-of-23) from deep.

LeBron James, now cast as a point guard, did whatever he pleased, something that can happen against even the strongest opposition. He produced 18 points (6-of-9 from the field), 11 assists and four rebounds in 25 minutes.

The Warriors did complete Kerr’s other primary request, which was to reduce the number of fouls. They committed only 16 through the first three quarters -- the “competitive” portion of the game -- after being blown for 28 on Monday night.

The Warriors are going to be able to score, but their fate and placement will be dictated by defense. It is their greatest challenge, and there was no sign of it on this night.

Chriss has to make the roster

As the front office convenes in the coming days to make decisions about the roster, the Marquese Chriss debate will be brief and one-sided.

Has Chriss earned a spot on the roster? Yes.

His presence is required partly out of sheer need, as he is the only healthy “center” on the team. Kevon Looney (hamstring strain) is questionable for opening night. Willie Cauley-Stein (mid-foot sprain) is not expected back until November. Omari Spellman, a forward masquerading as a center, tweaked his back Monday and was sidelined Wednesday.

Chriss, at 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, also happens to be playing well. In 25 minutes, he totaled eight points and four rebounds. Though he splashed a triple in the first quarter, this was the least impressive of his four games this preseason.

[RELATED: Why John Oliver name-dropped Chriss in NBA-China monologue]

The big man has his ponderous moments when he seems to lose focus, but he has done some of everything, and done most of it well.

This wasn’t his best game as a Warrior, but it was enough to prove he belongs.

Warriors announce preseason rest schedule for two games at Lakers

Warriors announce preseason rest schedule for two games at Lakers

The Warriors will be without a couple of key players in Monday night's preseason game against the Lakers.

D'Angelo Russell and Draymond Green will rest, coach Steve Kerr told reporters in Los Angeles.

Steph Curry is going to play, but he will get the night off when the Dubs face the Lakers again Wednesday night.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, also will be shorthanded for the exhibition contest:

Kevon Looney -- who tweaked his hamstring 12 days ago and missed the first two preseason games -- is expected to be out again.

[RELATEDKerr explains why he believes Steph, once again, is peaking]

Willie Cauley-Stein remains sidelined with a left foot strain, and it's unclear if Alec Burks (sprained ankle) will make his preseason debut.

The Warriors and Lakers will wrap up the preseason on Friday night at Chase Center.

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ESPN's Jay Williams thinks revamped Warriors will miss NBA playoffs

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ESPN's Jay Williams thinks revamped Warriors will miss NBA playoffs

Chris Webber is not alone.

Much like his "NBA on TNT" peer, ESPN's Jay Williams predicted earlier this week that the Warriors would miss the playoffs. In a segment on the league's most intriguing duos that aired Wednesday on "NBA Countdown," Williams said that D'Angelo Russell and Stephen Curry fit the bill ... because Golden State won't be playing in the postseason?

"The Golden State Warriors -- mark down the day -- they are not going to make the playoffs," Williams said Wednesday. "The Golden State Warriors are not going to make the playoffs, and this is why I say D-Lo and Stephen Curry are the most intriguing duo.

"Now, D-Lo played extremely well last year. He got the Brooklyn Nets to the playoffs. He made the All-Star Game. He wasn't the guy at first, Caris LaVert was the guy. Then D-Lo started to find his swagger. I wonder how D-Lo will do in a system that he cannot dominate the ball."

Curry and Russell's chemistry is still a work in progress. Russell posted the highest usage rate of his career (31.9 percent) last season, and only once in the Steve Kerr era has one of Curry's teammates had a usage rate greater than 30 percent (Kevin Durant in 2017-18).

Williams pointed to Klay Thompson's rehab from a torn ACL as well as Curry and Russell's defensive deficiencies as cause for concern, incorrectly claiming that the team lost defensive guru Ron Adams. Adams remains with the team, but Jarron Collins now runs the Warriors' defense. Williams doesn't think Russell is a fit for Golden State's system, either.

The Warriors will have to discover a new identity on both ends of the floor this season, given what they lost this summer. The Western Conference pecking order has also re-organized, now that Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis are in Los Angeles. Golden State has far more concerns heading into 2019-20 than it has at any point under Kerr.

[RELATED: Kerr shakes head, refuses to respond to Trump's latest jab]

But with all of that said, are there really eight teams in the West better than the Warriors? The Los Angeles Lakers likely will bump out a playoff team from a year ago, but no other team in the conference is guaranteed to do the same. Sure, the Kings and Dallas Mavericks could make the leap, and the New Orleans Pelicans are loaded with young talent after trading Davs to the Lakers and drafting Zion Williamson straight out of a video game Duke. But each of those teams have significant question marks beyond their lack of experience.

The Warriors likely will not reach the heights of title contention this season, but that doesn't mean they're destined for the depths of the draft lottery, either.

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