Warriors

Kerr's 'great timeout' refocuses Warriors, fuels win over Kings

Kerr's 'great timeout' refocuses Warriors, fuels win over Kings

SACRAMENTO -- Eighteen seconds into the game, before the Warriors had attempted a shot, or even taken possession of the ball, coach Steve Kerr called timeout and immediately summoned his players to the bench.

Kerr wanted to discuss defense and focus, neither of which was present when Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins spun around Zaza Pachulia and pranced toward an unguarded rim for the kind of dunk usually seen in a layup line.

Though the Warriors acknowledged their negligence -- it was mentioned right before tipoff that if Cousins got the ball on the block, there should be help -- but it wasn’t until late in the second quarter that they unleashed a fully focused defense.

And once they did, it took all hope out of the Kings, who were emboldened by building a 16-point lead midway through the second quarter, only to have the Warriors trim it to seven at by halftime and completely take over with a 22-3 run in the third quarter.

“We knew they couldn’t sustain that throughout the game,” Kevin Durant said Sunday night, after scoring 28 points as the Warriors completed a 117-106 win at Golden 1 Center. “You saw the third quarter. Their legs got a little tired, we were more physical and we got out and ran.

“That’s the formula for us.”

When the Warriors (32-6) use stingy defense to trigger transition offense, they’re nearly impossible to beat. They shots come more easily, and they go in more often. They are 19-0 this season when they shoot 50 percent, and chances of doing that rise dramatically when they’re forcing turnovers and getting into the wind.

“I’m not saying we’re invincible at all; we’ve proven that (we’re not),” said Stephen Curry, who scored a game-high 30 points, his third consecutive game with at least 30. “But it gives us our best shot to allow our talent on the other end to shine.

“A lot’s been said about our fourth quarter offense and execution and lineups and whatever, but if we can work through that while getting stops on the defensive end and using the length and activity that we usually have on that end, we’ll be alright regardless.”

The Kings (15-22) shot 52.3 percent in the first half, and were close to 60 percent before the Warriors held them to 1-of-6 from the 4:14 mark until halftime.

The Warriors took command after intermission, outscoring the Kings 39-22 in the third quarter, forcing five turnovers (leading to six points) while holding them to 31.3-percent shooting.

The offense simply held up its end of the deal. The Warriors shot 54.3 percent in the second half, with balanced scoring. In addition to Curry and Durant leading the charge, Klay Thompson put in 18 points, Zaza Pachulia tossed in 10 and Draymond Green added 9, while also contributing his usual combo line of statistics, including 10 assists and seven rebounds.

It was enough that the Warriors were able to continue their NBA-record streak of games without back-to-back losses, now at 124.

Yet it goes back to Kerr, calling the quick timeout and demanding the team to do as it had been coached.

“I knew exactly why, when he called it,” Green said. “Zaza did his job and nobody was there to help. It definitely made a statement.”

Said Kerr: “We gave up a back-door lay-up on a play that we had just talked about and there was a scheme that we blew,” he said. “So, we just had to talk about it.”

Asked if he’d ever seen a coach call a time 18 seconds into a game, surely the fastest Kerr ever has, Durant considered his nine-year career before responding.

“No – no, but that was a great timeout,” he said. “We said we were going to double from the baseline on Cousins and we didn’t do it. And it was unacceptable to Steve. Great timeout. Got us going.”

Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr explain why KD took six shots vs. Pistons

Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr explain why KD took six shots vs. Pistons

Kevin Durant is a four-time NBA scoring champion. He's averaging 18.6 shots per game this season, and 18.8 for his career.

So, seeing a box score where he attempted six shots in 35 minutes is strange.

After the Warriors beat the Pistons 121-114 on Sunday night in Oakland, Durant and head coach Steve Kerr addressed his low shot total in Golden State's bounce-back win.

"Kevin is such a great, talented player that he can just do whatever he wants on the floor," Kerr told the media at Oracle. "So, he decided to be a distributor tonight. Obviously, 11 assists, I thought his defense was great. He's just one of those guys that's so talented that whatever he chooses to do that night, that's what he does."

Durant took a big-picture outlook on his stat line.

"I'm a well-rounded player and I can still affect the game without taking a bunch of shots," Durant told the media. "I thought I passed the ball well, I thought I played a great floor game. I know you're used to putting me in a box as a player, but I've grown."

In the Warriors' loss to the Mavericks on Saturday, Durant took 25 shots. Steph Curry sat out, putting the onus on Durant to carry the offense. But he wasn't happy with how he played against Dallas, and didn't want to make the same mistakes against Detroit.

"I didn't want to force shots tonight, and some of the shots I would have took tonight would have been forced, and last night I forced a bunch," Durant said.

[RELATED: Kerr on Curry's rest plan]

Durant finished with 14 points, 11 assists and five rebounds.

Warriors playing long game when it comes to resting Steph Curry

Warriors playing long game when it comes to resting Steph Curry

OAKLAND -- The Warriors can be sensitive about the subject of Steph Curry’s workload. He wants to play every game while striving to be a great husband and father and also making broad use of his massive social platform.

The Warriors understand all of this, and they do not want to obstruct any of it.

Yet workload management is one of the reasons Rick Celebrini was hired last summer to serve as the team’s director of Sports Medicine and Performance. Aided by high-tech fitness tools, he monitors every player for fatigue levels and beyond.

As much as the Warriors hope to nab the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, if not the NBA, everything goes through Celebrini. He is the gatekeeper of player availability. He decided that DeMarcus Cousins will not play in back-to-back games this season, that Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston will remain on routine body-maintenance programs and that Curry should miss the occasional game – such as Saturday against the Mavericks.

Curry seemed to benefit from the rest.

He scored 11 points in the first quarter Sunday and finished with team-high 26 in a 121-114 win over the Detroit Pistons.

With Curry, assuming he’s not injured, it’s a fine line. With the other veterans, the decisions are much more defined. Cousins is coming off a major injury, Iguodala and Livingston are mid-30s veterans requiring rest at regular intervals.

“Each player, we look at individually,” coach Steve Kerr said Sunday. “With DeMarcus, we made the decision based on Rick’s assessment that he should just not play back-to-backs this season. So, he’s not going to.

“Andre and Shaun both, periodically we’ve been giving rest to for the last several years based on the age and wear and tear.

“And then, every once in a while, it will come up that Rick will recommend we give somebody a rest. Last night it was Steph.”

[RELATED: What we learned from Warriors' win over Pistons]

Sitting Curry was precautionary, according to Kerr. His work schedule and his numerous off-the-court endeavors leave him open to overload.

“He’s been going a couple months straight and has looked a little tired the last couple weeks,” Kerr said. “It made perfect sense. We will be better for it in the long run.”

It definitely looked that way on Sunday.