Warriors

Kerr: Only one bright spot from Warriors' victory over visiting Knicks

Kerr: Only one bright spot from Warriors' victory over visiting Knicks

OAKLAND – This was offensive basketball in its purest form, as John Almighty Wooden taught it 50 years ago, yet it was simultaneously discordant, a group striving to harmonize but stumbling into the clash of notes going flat.

It wasn’t enough to deny victory, but it was plenty to indicate to Warriors coach Steve Kerr that his team needed a full-day refresh.

So the previously scheduled practice for Friday was cancelled late Thursday night in the wake of a listless and desultory 103-90 rolling of a Knicks team even most New Yorkers would have trouble recognizing in full dress.

Facing the Knicks without Carmelo Anthony or Derrick Rose and only 15 minutes of Joakim Noah, the Warriors succeeded mostly because they may be the most intelligent team in the NBA and also because they understand the grind game better than the likes of Ron Baker, Lance Thomas, Courtney Lee and Kristaps Porzingis.

Each of the Warriors’ first 36 baskets also came with an assist, creating a showcase of sharing that far exceeds even their lofty standard. The passes never stopped, even though sometimes they should have. The Warriors had 41 helpers, on 45 baskets.

“I thought that was the lone bright spot of the game was our guys’ willingness to share,” Kerr said. “They really look for each other. That’s a theme almost every night. That’s such a great quality to have as a team. So that was great.”

Kerr barely paused before making it evident he was able to look past the happy teamwork see a team trudging through its first game at Oracle Arena – which came 40 hours after returning from a diabolical five-game, seven-night road trip through three time zones.

“I didn’t think there was much purpose to anything we did at either end of the floor,” Kerr said. “We move the ball because our guys are instinctive with that and unselfish and they enjoy playing together with each other. So the ball movement was good, but no purpose offensively and very little interest defensively.

“We’re probably lucky we played a team without a couple of its best players, but we looked tired and disinterested out there.”

Despite scoring 15 points on 7-of-18 shooting, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds and recording eight assists, Kevin Durant conceded that the Warriors missing their first five shots – and nearly a dozen shots within 10 feet – may have been an indication of a team dragging itself into a game.

“We were definitely a little sluggish,” he said. We need to be better in that area.”

The Warriors’ defense invited the Knicks to stick around, except they lacked the firepower to do so. With Anthony and Rose out and Kristaps Porzingis being shut down (8 points, 4-of-13 shooting) once again by Draymond Green, New York turned to the likes of Justin Holiday, who scored a team-high 15 points, and Baker, who chipped in 13.

That’s hardly enough to keep up with the Warriors (23-4), who have the comfort of being unselfish because they have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Durant and Green – even if that All-Star foursome, by the way, combined for 22-of-61 (36.1 percent) shooting.

“We moved the ball well offensively,” Green said. “But everything else other than that, it was a little off cue.”

So Kerr decided to pass on practice. Players can visit team headquarters to review video and receive treatment, but the idea is to spend the day recovering.

“We looked tired and we looked heavy legged,” Kerr said. “We weren’t making defensive rotations and we weren’t very active defensively. We did not look sharp. There is no question the schedule caught up to us, but it’s the schedule and you have to play through it.”

Play through it they did Thursday night, but practicing on Friday is gratuitous. They’ll come back Saturday morning for shootaround and that night face a Portland team with enough ammo to make the Warriors pay for a night without mojo.

 

Boogie, Warriors providing NBA with just a glimpse of what's to come

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AP

Boogie, Warriors providing NBA with just a glimpse of what's to come

The Warriors are two games into the DeMarcus Cousins experience, and life is good. They’re 2-0, both wins by double digits. And Cousins has been better than some of the skeptics anticipated.

The sample size is small, so these are only glimpses. Teasers. After a full year away from the game, Cousins’ first two games represent a fraction of what’s to come.

But when the Full Boogie arrives, sometime after the All-Star break, look out. The Warriors will be more imposing than they were three years ago, when they rolled to an NBA record 73 wins.

Cousins was plus-24 in a 19-point win over the Lakers and plus-21 in an 18-point victory over the Clippers. Moreover, the Warriors’ starting lineup – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Cousins – is plus-35 in only 18 minutes together, with an absurd 131.0 offensive rating and a preposterous 45.5 defensive rating.

Cousins shot better in his Warriors debut, against the Clippers, but his rebounding was fiercer and his passes crisper against the Lakers. In 36 minutes, he has 22 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists, one steal, one block, two turnovers – and 10 fouls.

He also drew a charge in each game.

“That’s what I do,” Cousins said when I asked specifically about taking charges – a stat generally associated with selflessness.

“I was pleased with his effort; I was pleased with him playing 21 minutes,” coach Steve Kerr said, referring to the win over the Lakers. “He’s going to be an enormous help to this team. We’re so lucky to have him. And as he gets his rhythm and groove, he’s going to be fantastic.”

Cousins is diving into the action, banging his way through the paint and using as much physicality as allowed on defense. He’s running the court well for someone who, at 6-foot-11, 270 pounds, never had the grace or the gait of a gazelle.

“I’ve only known how to play one way by entire career,” Cousins said. “I’m not coming out trying to be reserved or timid or anything like that. I want to get back into the rhythm of things as fast as possible. I’m going to push my body to the limit as long as I’m out there. All that can do is help me with where I’m trying to go.

“So I’m not really trying to ease my way into anything. I’m trying to get back to where I want to be, and the player I want to be.”

Cousins says he’s focused to finding rhythm and increasing his minutes. The Warriors want the same thing. They’d like to see him get comfortable with playing 24 to 28 minutes before the Feb. 14 All-Star break.

As the Warriors make their third of four swings through the Eastern Conference, Cousins will face greater challenges. Against the Wizards on Thursday, he’ll face the young and active Thomas Bryant, before trying to keep up with Celtics big man Al Horford on Saturday and Indiana’s Myles Turner on Monday.

When Cousins makes his home debut as a Warrior, on Feb. 2, he’ll have to deal with gifted 76ers big man Joel Embiid.

Cousins believes he’s ready for whatever comes his way, even as he tries to find his timing, acclimates himself with his teammates and also with what he calls a “different” NBA because of rules changes designed to limit defensive aggression.

One thing Cousins says he’s not worried about is something many observers are concerned with: his surgically repaired Achilles’ tendon.

“There soreness when it comes to running, getting used to game speed; my legs are fatigued after that,” he said. “But as far as the Achilles, it’s nothing. It’s good. It’s strong. It’s probably more conditioned than any other part of my body right now.”

Remember the “Super Villains?” If this version of the Warriors stays healthy, it may force a change in the definition of the term.

Tracy McGrady: Kevin Durant leaving Warriors would be 'great' for NBA

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Tracy McGrady: Kevin Durant leaving Warriors would be 'great' for NBA

Look! We found another Hall of Famer that is tired of the Warriors' success.

Tracy McGrady is so done with the Warriors winning every year that he wants Kevin Durant to leave in free agency this summer.

On Tuesday's episode of The Jump on ESPN, the question was posed: Would it be good or bad for the league for the Warriors to break up?

"This is great for the league," McGrady said. "Although I love seeing these guys play on the big stage every year, I think we just need some more parity. It’s been four straight years of watching these guys. Kevin Durant just completely changed everything when he went there and made it not fair for the league."

In the process of bringing the Warriors down, McGrady wants Durant to lift another franchise up.

"I would love for KD to spread the love around, so a team like the New York Knicks can come back in the fold and be competitive in the Eastern Conference," McGrady said. "Like how awesome would that be? KD joins another player or two and make New York exciting again."

Sorry T-Mac, but we subscribe to the theory that a dominant top dog forced everyone else to raise their game.