Warriors

Instant Replay: Warriors lose Game 4 in OKC, fall into 3-1 hole

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Instant Replay: Warriors lose Game 4 in OKC, fall into 3-1 hole

BOX SCORE

OKLAHOMA CITY – Gone is the margin of error for the Warriors.

For the defending champions to avoid losing their crown, it’s going to take a three-game win-streak against a team that has beaten them three times in four games over the past nine days.

The Warriors fell for the second consecutive time to Oklahoma City, taking a 118-94 loss in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night in the cauldron of sonic assault that is Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Warriors now face a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series.

Klay Thompson did his part to try to keep them close, scoring 19 of his 26 points in one third-quarter spurt. Harrison Barnes total 11 points, while Stephen Curry struggled mightily, scoring 19 points on 6-of-20 shooting from the field, 2-of-10 from 3-point distance.

The Warriors were outrebounded (56-40) and shot 11 fewer free throws (40-29) than the Thunder. The Warriors committed 21 turnovers, off which OKC scored 18 points.

The Warriors lost the two games in Oklahoma City by a combined score of 251-199.

All five Thunder starters scored in double figures, with Russell Westbrook leading the way with 36. Kevin Durant finished with 26, Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson 17 apiece and Steven Adams added 11.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Thompson provided a pulse in the third quarter, scoring 19 consecutive Warriors points, single-handedly bringing them back into the game.

Thompson’s line: 26 points (9-of-17 from the field, 3-of-8 beyond the arc), two rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot. He played 28 minutes, finishing minus-14 for the game.

TURNING POINT:
After the Warriors cut the deficit to four, 44-40, with 6:39 remaining in the second quarter, the Thunder responded with a 22-6 run to go up 66-46 with 1:55 left in half.

The Warriors in the second half got as close as six (80-74, 4:48 left in the third quarter) before the Thunder pulled away again in the fourth quarter.

INJURY UPDATE:
Warriors: F Kevon Looney (L hip surgery) was listed as out and, along with F James Michael McAdoo (healthy), placed on the inactive list.

Thunder: No injuries listed. F Josh Huestis and F Mitch McGary were placed on the inactive list.

WHAT’S NEXT:
Game 5 is set for Thursday at Oracle Arena, tipoff scheduled for 6 p.m. PDT.

How Warriors gain flexibility in Willie Cauley-Stein trade to Mavs

How Warriors gain flexibility in Willie Cauley-Stein trade to Mavs

SAN FRANCISCO -- Willie Cauley-Stein walked out of shootaround, down a long corridor that leads to the Warriors' locker room in Chase Center late Friday morning in preparation for a game scheduled hours later against the Indiana Pacers. The trek marked the big man's last as a member of Golden State.

By Saturday morning, Cauley-Stein officially was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for the Utah Jazz's second-round draft pick in 2020, ending his short tenure in the Bay Area. Along the way, the Warriors set themselves up for future flexibility. 

In the immediate aftermath, the Warriors shed Cauley-Stein's current $2.17 million salary and his $2.8 million player option for the 2020-21 season, while freeing up an open roster spot for this season and beyond. From a financial perspective, it sank Golden State $2.57 million below the hard cap, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks. Additionally, the Warriors have enough salary space to convert the two-way deals of either Ky Bowman or Marquese Chriss. 

Six months ago, Cauley-Stein came to Warriors in search of career revitalization. After four years in Sacramento, he demanded that the Kings rescind his qualifying offer to make him a free agent last summer. After garnering more lucrative offers from other teams, he chose to sign a one-year contract with Golden State, which included the player option. With a new contract, the center hoped to keep the Warriors' postseason streak alive while earning a payday next summer. 

However, those wishes didn't come to fruition. A week before training camp, Cauley-Stein sprained his foot, causing the center to miss the first month of the season. His injury, coupled with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney missing significant time, led to a lost season for the big man.

Nonetheless, Cauley-Stein expressed a desire to stay with the Warriors long term, citing his relationship with coach Steve Kerr. 

"He wants to build a relationship with you," Cauley-Stein told NBC Sports Bay Area last month. "I think, in the past I hadn't had a relationship with my coach. [Former Kings coach Dave] Joerger, me and him had a pretty good rapport, pretty good, like cordial, but we never had like in-depth conversations about life and stuff like that, and the first couple of conversations I had with coach Kerr was real-life stuff and that hit home with me like, 'Damn, he really tried to get to know me.' "

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Unfortunately for Cauley-Stein, he won't get to continue that relationship with Kerr.

Now, with Dallas in need of a center with the loss of Dwight Powell, his hope to find a similar relationship with Rick Carlisle will immediately start in a Mavericks uniform.

How Willie Cauley-Stein trade changes Warriors' frontcourt this season

How Willie Cauley-Stein trade changes Warriors' frontcourt this season

SAN FRANCISCO -- Willie Cauley-Stein crept into the Warriors' locker room about an hour after his soon-to-be former team's 129-118 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Friday, armed with a round of goodbyes. 

Walking near each stall at Chase Center, he said farewell to any staffer within an eyeshot, finishing with teammates Omari Spellman and Jordan Poole. As he towered over his former domain, his teammates were forced to reconcile a basketball life without the seven-footer around 12 hours before Golden State officially traded Cauley-Stein to the Dallas Mavericks. 

"It sucks," Warriors big man Marquese Chriss said. "It's hard when you're with somebody every day and you're playing games with them, and they're gone in a snap of a finger. I wish the best for him." 

Before Chriss and others bid adieu, the two-way center started for just the fourth time this season. Chriss scored 13 points, but he grabbed just three rebounds while Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis finished with 16 points and 10 boards. Along the way, Indiana outscored Golden State 56-28 in the paint, shedding light on the Warriors' frontcourt struggles.

Once Cauley-Stein officially is traded, Chriss and Omari Spellman are the only healthy big men on the Warriors' roster. While serviceable, both players routinely are playing out of position. At 6-foot-9, Spellman prefers to play on the wings, with a game more suitable for jump shots than post-ups. Meanwhile, Chriss has played much of his career as a power forward, providing a learning experience in his new role.

"Marquese was good tonight," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "Every night is a learning experience for him. He's going to be a guy that shoots a high percentage from the field because of his athleticism.

"He's going to get good experience going forward, so we're just going to keep working with him and I know he will work hard."  

As Chriss adjusts to his new role, coach Kerr said he would be open to bringing up rookie Alen Smailagic from the G League for a unit in need of improvement. Over the last two games, the Warriors have been outrebounded 92-75, including a 56-37 disadvantage in Wednesday's loss to the Utah Jazz.

That, combined with Cauley-Stein's trade, is prompting a new approach moving forward.

"Marquese and Omari will get some experience out there and we'll let Draymond play some center," Kerr said, "and then it's a matter of helping with defense with all five guys on the screen and we have to communicate."

[RELATED: What we learned as Warriors fumble chance to beat Pacers]

Cauley-Stein's departure could be the first of many for the current roster. Last month, league sources told NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole that the team would be open to parting with Alec Burks in the coming weeks for the right deal.

But before the Feb. 6 trade deadline, Cauley-Stein's replacement says he's up for the challenge of filling the departing big man's shoes. 

"I've tried making a role off playing hard and doing the dirty work," Chriss said. "I'm not the guy who is going to shoot 20 shots and get you 40 points. I'm gonna try and be that guy that is down low and banging, getting rebounds and setting screens."