Warriors

Casspi, Young fill huge void for Warriors: Come off the bench and let it fly

Casspi, Young fill huge void for Warriors: Come off the bench and let it fly

OAKLAND -- The departure of Marreese Speights last summer snapped a Warriors streak that, with very few interruptions, lasted for the better part of 30 years.

It’s a link that began with Terry Teagle and Sarunas Marciulionis before running through the likes of Victor Alexander and Tony Delk and Chris Mills and Gilbert Arenas and Anthony Morrow and, eventually, Brandon Rush and Speights.

The Warriors almost always have had someone, through times good and bad, who comes off the bench for the specific purpose of scoring. Instant offense.

Not so last season, when they placed 21st in bench scoring (32.8 points per game) and, moreover, 29th in 3-pointers made at 2.1 per game.

Consider that hole patched. Veterans Nick Young, who signed last week, and Omri Casspi, who signed on Wednesday, are here to score. They’ll mix in some defense and they’ll pass a bit. But they’ve come to light up the scoreboard, with Young providing what was delivered by the best of Rush and Casspi filling the vacuum left by Speights.

“Those are two guys we’ve always liked,” assistant general manager Kirk Lacob said Wednesday, during the ESPN telecast of the Warriors-Timberwolves game in Las Vegas Summer League. “They’re multidimensional. They’ve got size. They’ve got length. And they can shoot. They’re shooters. We like shooters. We’re really happy about both guys. It adds a new dimension to our bench.”’

Casspi, who has come off the bench in 361 of his 499 NBA games, was quick to clarify what drew him to the Warriors.

“I want to run, I want to shoot 3s,” he said during his introductory news conference.

“Obviously, my game, I don’t shoot a lot of mid-range whatsoever,” the 29-year-old added. “I want to do whatever it takes to help, whether to play tough defense, shoot open shots or move the ball from side to side, defend, do the stuff I do.”

The 6-foot-9 forward -- the first native of Israel to reach the NBA -- has played for five different teams, usually in the role of bench scorer. He’s a 36.7-percent beyond the arc shooter for his career, though twice has posted seasons above 40 percent.

Casspi’s single-game scoring high is 36 points, compiled against the Warriors while he was a member of the Kings in December 2015. He was 13-of-18 from the field, including 9-of-12 from deep in a 122-103 Sacramento loss.

Casspi was outgunned that night by Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who combined for 52 points, including 11-of-25 shooting from deep.

“It was fun, one of those moments,” Casspi said. “It doesn’t happen often that you make shots (like that). Some guys make shots, but then you have a guy like Steph coming right back and doing even better. It was a night to remember.”

It’s that kind of offensive capability that has kept Casspi in the NBA and also made him attractive to the Warriors, who signed him to a one-year contract worth $2.1 million.

“I can’t wait for the season to start,” he said. “I have so much to prove, and a big chip on my shoulder to go ahead and do the stuff I need to do to help my team win. This is what I’m looking for.”

The Warriors, despite finishing first or second in nearly every offensive statistic, were looking for bench scoring. They are returning to their roots. With Young and Casspi on board, the team has doubled down in its pursuit of triples off the bench.

“I don’t know (Young) personally, but we’ve played against each other plenty of times,” Casspi said. “We have shooting all over the place. This is just great. This is something that compliments his game and my game. I’m looking forward to working with him and our coaching staff.”

Shooting and passing, Kevin Durant's chameleon-like skills aid Warriors

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APUSATSI

Shooting and passing, Kevin Durant's chameleon-like skills aid Warriors

LOS ANGELES – The first Warrior to launch was Draymond Green, missing a 3-pointer 24 seconds after tipoff. That was followed 41 seconds later by Klay Thompson draining a jumper, with an Andrew Bogut missing a jump hook 23 seconds after that.

Stephen Curry got into the action, missing a 3-pointer with 10:08 left in the first quarter, with Bogut following with a dunk and then Green missing from in close a few seconds later.

Where was Kevin Durant?

He was on the court the entire time, but he was the last of the five starters to hoist a shot Sunday in Game 4 of their first-round series against the Clippers. Would this be one of those instances when KD would look to score or would he opt to wear his distributor cap?

He did both.

“Whether it’s coming off screens, pick-and-rolls, being a facilitator or scoring in the post,” Durant said, “I’ve just got to be ready to dive deep in the bag.”

Durant totaled six assists, roughly his average over the final six weeks of the regular season and one more than he had averaged through the first three games of the series. He also had a game-high 33 points as the Warriors posted a 113-105 win at Staples Center.

He ended up taking 21 shots (making 12), one more than Thompson, who scored 32 points. Durant also grabbed seven rebounds.

Durant’s numbers came because he discerned the needs of the team, considering the circumstances and making logical decisions. Most everything he did seemed to regarded such factors as timing and whichever four teammates with whom he was sharing the floor.

His first two shots came in the fourth minute of the game, jumpers that went in. But he quickly realized the Clippers had made an adjustment. Instead of being defended by pesky 6-foot-1 guard Patrick Beverley, who had the assignment in the first three games, Los Angeles coach turned to JaMychal Green, who at 6-9 is just two inches shorter than Durant.

“Where I initiate and where I operate from the floor has to change,” Durant said of the switch. “I can mix in playing same way I played the previous game a little. But to keep the defense off balance and not be predictable out there, I’ve got to use the full body of my offensive talents.”

When he recognized how hot Thompson was in the first quarter – he made his first seven shots – Durant tried to feed him.

Later in the game, with Curry struggling to find a semblance of offensive rhythm, Durant was trying to send passes his way.

With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, Durant often was the primary ballhandler – even when Curry and Green were on the floor.

“Coach called my number in the fourth quarter to handle the ball, but that doesn’t mean to just score,” Durant said. “If I see an opportunity to get a bucket, I try to take advantage. But Klay had it going. He had a mismatch.

“Especially when the ball is in my hands a lot, I know it’ll come around. So I just tried to get everybody else going and get our energy going from just touching the basketball. I think that provides energy, when everybody touches the ball.”

It’s working. Other than playing 17 minutes of brutal basketball to finish Game 2 with a thud, the Warriors have been nearly as good as expected.

Midway through the third quarter of Game 2, the Warriors led by 30 and KD had taken five shots.

Midway through the third quarter of Game 3, they were up 31 and he had taken 19 shots.

Durant gained a reputation as a scorer by winning four scoring titles in a five-year span as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. But he’s also willing passer, sometimes too willing.

He can do both, and quite well when he is fully engaged, as he was in Games 3 and 4.

Steph Curry must stop fouling if Warriors want to reach ultimate goal

Steph Curry must stop fouling if Warriors want to reach ultimate goal

LOS ANGELES -- Stephen Curry seems to be in a rut.

Through the first four games of the NBA playoff first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Warriors star has struggled to stay on the floor because of foul trouble. The problem even has caused Curry to etch the words "don't" and "reach" on his Under Armour Curry 6 sneakers.

That two-word mantra is something Curry can take heed in as the postseason progresses.

"He just hasn't been focused," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after Sunday's 113-105 Game 4 win at Staples Center.

Curry has accumulated 17 total fouls in the series. In Game 4, he committed four fouls -- three in the first half, with two coming in the first quarter.

Curry has shown throughout his career that he has a habit for the dramatic. Four years ago -- in a regular-season game against the Clippers -- he dribbled through the hands of LA defenders before shooting a contested 3-pointer with 10 seconds left on the shot clock, much to Kerr's chagrin. The shot went in, leaving Kerr and the rest of the league a lasting image of Curry's mentality. However, that same strategy occasionally leads to the guard being overly aggressive on defense, as evidenced over his last four outings.

"The same thing that makes him not hesitate to shoot a fadeaway 30-footer maybe is the same thing that gets him in foul trouble," Kerr said. "You know, he doesn't overthink much, and so he's just gotten into a habit lately of reaching, and instead of showing his hands and trusting the help behind him."

Curry switched into a neon green pair of Curry 6s during the halftime break, and it seemed to change his defensive habits. He committed only one foul in the second half in an effort to offset shooting 3 of 14 from the field.

"I didn't really put myself in bad positions," Curry said. "In the whole second half, I was able to play aggressive on the ball and play defense without fouling."

[RELATED: Dip in the ocean woke up Klay for a big game]

Curry has proven that he's prone to taking big risks on the court and cashing in on big rewards. But now, for Curry and the Warriors to be successful, he'll have to stay on the floor and not in foul trouble. 

"I need to continue to focus on it," Curry said. "But good call or bad call, I need to not put myself in bad positions."