Warriors

Durant gets taste of competition, plays 1-on-1 with Warriors coach

Durant gets taste of competition, plays 1-on-1 with Warriors coach

For the first time in a month, Kevin Durant got a taste of competition. Well, sort of.

Durant on Wednesday went through one-on-one sessions with Warriors assistant coach Willie Green, who is two years removed from a 12-year career as a guard in the NBA.

“He played full-court one-on-one, played some half-court one-on-one to start and then they stepped it up,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters prior to the Warriors-Spurs game in San Antonio. “Willie said it was a good workout.”

Durant and Green played five games of half-court ball and one with the full court. The active player, for the record, won all six games.

“Kevin got him pretty good, so it’s a good sign,” Kerr said before flashing a bit of humor. “If Willie had beaten him, I would have been very concerned.”

An even better sign for the Warriors is that only one man walked away feeling the burn of competition.

“Willie said he was really sore,” Kerr said. “Not Kevin. Willie.”

Durant has been out since sustaining a medial collateral ligament sprain and bone bruise to his left knee on Feb. 28 at Washington. Though there have been no setbacks in his rehab, there is no firm timetable for his return.

“It’s impossible to predict that stuff,” Kerr said. “But it would be nice for him to get a couple games in at the end of the regular season.”

The Warriors plan to re-evaluate Durant next week, after which they expect to plot out his return. There is optimism that he could be back in time to play two or three regular season games in preparation for the postseason, which begins April 15.

 

Roaracle no more: For Warriors, Oracle no longer real home court advantage

Roaracle no more: For Warriors, Oracle no longer real home court advantage

OAKLAND – It’s old and cranky and probably bitter about being abandoned.

That would explain why the magic of Oracle Arena, once the most reliable component of recent seasons – the best stretch in franchise history – has turned on the Warriors this season.

The cloak of invincibility they used to wear like a shield has been shot through with holes signifying vulnerability, the latest example coming Saturday in a 126-91 shellacking under a torrent of 3-pointers by the openly transitioning and largely nondescript Dallas Mavericks.

For all the talk about chasing the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference – which still is probable – and having home-court advantage for as much of the postseason as possible, the Warriors in this game were light on both spirit and performance.

The talk might be appropriate for reasons of identifying a goal, but it is profoundly hollow in the face of reality. With a home record (25-11) that is one game better than the road record (24-12), the Warriors no longer have a real home-court advantage. It has been weakening for a couple years, and now it’s as gone as the easily affordable ticket.

“It is weird,” Draymond Green said. “You’re supposed to win at home. And you expect to win at home. We’ve had quite a few letdowns this year.”

This 35-point loss is, however, the worst in 200 games at Oracle under coach Steve Kerr. And it comes 18 days after the previous worst, a 33-point drubbing by the Boston Celtics on March 5.

The Warriors went 39-2 at home in 2014-15. That’s a home-court advantage. They were 39-2 the next season, solidifying their dominance at Oracle. They thought they might be slipping when they were 36-5 at home in 2016-17.

The real slip came last season, when the Warriors were no better at home than on the road, posting 29-12 records in both columns. That, folks, is not a home-court advantage at all.

The Warriors, coaches and players, expressed a strong desire, to make this season, the last in Oakland and at Oracle, special and memorable. Give Oracle a proper farewell. Go out with a splash.

This was the sixth time this season they’ve lost a home game by at least 20 points. The Bucks (134-111 on Nov. 8) were terrific, the Thunder (123-95 on Nov. 21) were rolling, the Raptors (113-93) were out to make a statement, as were the Celtics (128-95).

But the other two blowouts, to the Lakers (127-101 on Christmas Day) and the Mavericks should be unfathomable, no matter how bored the Warriors might be with the regular season.

“You kind of sensed the energy wasn’t there,” Green said. “That’s kind of normal in a game like that. I didn’t really get the sense we would lose by 40.”

It was 35, but it may as well have been 40, as Dallas led by as much as 43.

The Mavericks, who had lost their last 12 games at Oracle, attacked from the start and never backed off. Nor was this 28-44 team put in its place. Dallas drilled 13 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 21 triples (in 49 attempts), one short of their season-high and tying the Rockets’ total (on Jan. 3) for the most against the Warriors this season.

Houston’s 21 triples also came at Oracle.

What magic?

“It was their offense and it was our (defensive) breakdowns,” Klay Thompson said.

The Warriors lacked verve at both ends. They defended as if they had no respect for the Mavericks and compounded that by shooting 40 percent overall and only 13.3 percent (4-of-30) from distance.

The Warriors were down by 12 (14-2) less than four minutes after tipoff, down by 23 (51-28) less than three minutes into the second quarter. Six different Mavericks made at least two triples, with rookie sensation Luka Doncic banging four and Dirk Nowitzki, in what may be his last season, draining a season-high five while totaling a season-high 21 points.

“I think everybody in that locker room has gotten their asses beaten at home before,” Kevin Durant said. “I know this experience is different, with how much winning we’ve done the last few years. But we’re still in the NBA. Guys have been a part of terrible games, along with the great games as well.

“The good thing about it is we play (Sunday) night, too.”

Well, yes. The Detroit Pistons come into Oracle for their annual visit. They won here last season. They’re nearly as beatable as the Mavericks, as if that matters.

Oracle doesn’t mean what it once did for the Warriors, who don’t exploit its advantages as they have in the past. If the Warriors are to win another championship, we’ve seen enough to know home court won’t be the deciding factor.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from disastrous loss to Mavs

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from disastrous loss to Mavs

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – No energy, no chemistry, no chance.

Facing the downtrodden Dallas Mavericks on Saturday at Oracle Arena, the Warriors responded with perhaps their worst performance of the season, earning a 126-91 loss for their efforts.

This was so bad that not even Stephen Curry’s presence – he was given the night off – would have been enough to affect a rescue.

Eighteen days after a 33-point loss to Boston was the worst home loss of the Kerr era, the Warriors topped it. Or bottomed it.

Here are three takeaways from a game which should have no redeeming value to the Warriors:

Awfully atrocious abnormalities

After generating tremendous defensive momentum over the past five games – third in the league in defensive rating during that stretch – the Warriors were two levels below atrocious in the first half.

The Mavericks drained 12 of their first 15 shots. They shot 65.2 percent in building a 37-22 lead after one quarter. They made 11 of their first 18 3-pointers. With the usual transgressions – slow rotations, miscommunication and playing too loosely – on full display, Warriors coach Steve Kerr dipped into his timeout allotment three times in the first 14 minutes.

While Dallas was scorching the nets, the Warriors were tossing up brick, boulders and sticks, shooting 29.6 percent in the first quarter and 36.7 percent for the half.

The Mavs, from the jump, came at the Warriors, whose response was tepid, light years away from their recent championship-caliber defense. With the Warriors playing in a stupor, that defense did not make it to Oracle Arena.

Misfiring shooters

With Curry out, the other members of the Warriors bomb squad knew it was on them to carry the offense. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are capable of completing that assignment.

They failed spectacularly this time.

Durant, clearly responding to the circumstances, was aggressive but nowhere near his usual efficiency. Two days after putting up nine shots in a win over the Pacers, he jacked up 12 in the first quarter. He made four. He finished with 25 points on 9-of-25 shooting over 29 minutes.

Thompson was slightly worse, finishing 4-of-13 over 27 minutes.

The two All-Stars combined to 0-of-12 from deep.

As unsightly as it was, it would have been worse if not for the offense of DeMarcus Cousins, who shot 8-of-11 in scoring scored 19 points – which wasn’t close to being enough.

The liabilities and assets of short memories

With an 82-game schedule, there is something to be said about forgetting the last game and focusing on the next. It usually is the fastest route to recovery.

But the Warriors cited their March 10 loss to Phoenix as a turning point. They knew they had no business being roasted by the worst team in the Western Conference, one eagerly looking forward to the lottery. Embarrassed, they said.

The implication was, rather than forget it and move on, it was worth remembering for its motivational powers.

Then, 13 days later, this.

This actually was worse. The Suns prevailed in a close game. The Mavericks were never threatened, succeeding from the opening tip until the final horn.

The lesson for the Warriors in losing to the Suns at Oracle was supposed to be that any opponent is capable of beating them, despite back-to-back championships. To really remember that loss is to not allow a team such as Dallas to come in and thrive.