SAN ANTONIO -- It’s a week that will stay with the Warriors for the remainder of this season and for the rest of their careers, following them into retirement.
There was robust discord between two All-Stars, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, that continues to resonate. There was the team leader, Stephen Curry, out of the lineup with an injury but willing to accompany the team on a four-day road trip partly in hopes of restoring a semblance of unity, if not serenity.
There was the designated shooter, Klay Thompson, less than eight months from away free agency, searching for but not finding his touch.
And there were the losses, three in a row, resulting in the team’s first 0-3 road trip since Steve Kerr took over in 2014.
Here is a chronology of the week that was:
The Warriors play the Clippers at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Durant and Thompson are carrying the offense. Green returns after a two-game absence due to a sprained toe. For more than 46 minutes, the Warriors never lead. Montrezl Harrell, LA’s energetic reserve big man, is bossing the paint.
Fourth quarter. The Warriors summon a rally. Down 14 with 6:36 to play, they go on a 19-5 run, tying the game at 106-106 on a Thompson 3-pointer with 1:27 to play.
It's the final 5.6 seconds. Green grabs a rebound with 5.6 seconds on the clock with a chance to win the game. Durant makes an emphatic plea for the ball. Green ignores it. He dribbles into a lost possession, leading to overtime.
Then the dam bursts. Durant snaps at Green. Green snaps back, vociferously and personally. The Warriors come out for overtime and Durant fouls out 74 seconds later. The Warriors run dry and lose by five. The quarrel, with teammates involved, restarts in the locker room.
The flight home is uneasy. Everybody feels the chill. The night is long for every member of the team.
The Warriors don’t practice before the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Oracle Arena. The majority opinion among players and coaches is that Green’s castigation was out of line. Kerr and general manager Bob Myers meet to discuss the beef, and decide to suspend Green one game “for conduct detrimental to the team.” Based on Green’s salary, it’s a $120,000 penalty.
The Warriors, trailing at the half, ride a strong third quarter to beat the rebuilding Hawks by seven. Green watches from home, irritated but icing his toe. Durant enters the postgame interview room, his face stony, and briefly addresses the subject. He is asked if he thinks the strife could possibly make the team stronger.
“Who knows,” he replies dryly. “We’ll see.”
The Warriors fly to Houston, their first trip there since the Western Conference Finals last May. Green is on the trip. So is Curry, who was not present for the blowup in Los Angeles. Kerr speaks with Green and Durant. The team goes to dinner at a steak house near the hotel. Nobody fights in public.
The Warriors face the Rockets at Toyota Center. Seven hours before tipoff, Green meets with media, issues a statement on the flap with Durant but takes no questions on it. He says it’s time to move forward.
Golden State takes the floor that night, and get crushed by 21. Green goes scoreless. Durant shoots 6-of-15, Thompson 5-of-16.
Durant is asked about the state his relationship with Green, and says: “Don’t ask me about that again.”
The Warriors board a late-night flight to Dallas.
The team goes through a light practice without known incident. Green’s sore toe flares up, so Warriors declare him out for the game Saturday in Dallas.
With Green joining Alfonzo McKinnie and Curry on the sideline, the Warriors summon wing Damion Lee and power forward Marcus Derrickson from the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.
The Warriors conduct morning shootaround at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. Kerr discusses the state of the team, reflects on his 15-year career and says all teams go through difficult periods and that it’s normal. Curry does light drills with personal coach Bruce Fraser. The Warriors are hopeful their point guard, healing from a groin injury, can return next week. They need him. Badly.
Curry addresses media before tipoff against the Mavericks. He says he’s progressing well and that he’s “proud” of the way the team is handling the ongoing adversity. He insists that nothing that happens in November, no matter how it looks, is going to derail this team from a deep postseason run that concludes in the NBA Finals.
The Warriors put forth enough effort to hang around, but fade in the fourth quarter and take a three-point loss to the Mavericks. Thompson shoots 9-of-24 and Durant goes 11-of-24. Curry and Green watch from the bench.
Durant sighs when asked about the vibe of the team, and replies: “Are we going to talk about this the whole year?”
The Warriors arrive at their hotel in San Antonio around 2 a.m. They sleep in. They don’t have a shootaround; they never do on the second night of a back-to-back set. They bus to AT&T Center to face the once fabulous, but now ordinary, Spurs.
The Warriors never lead by more than one point but trail by as much as 18. They look frazzled, at times lost. Durant shoots 8-of-25. Thompson shoots 11-of-26. The Warriors dig down for a fourth-quarter rally, getting within one (91-90) with 3:38 remaining. The Spurs close it with a 13-2 run. The Warriors lose 104-92.
Kerr doesn't run from a question asking if this is his toughest stretch as a coach.
“Oh, yeah. But I’ve had a dream run for four-and-a-half years,” he says. “We’ve had such a charmed existence the last four seasons. So, yeah, of course, this is the toughest stretch we’ve been in.
“This is the real NBA. We haven’t been in the real NBA the last few years. We’ve been in this dream. So now we’re faced with real adversity. We’ve got to get out of it ourselves.”