Warriors

Klay leads Team USA to victory over France in Rio

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Klay leads Team USA to victory over France in Rio

Though Team USA continues to flirt with disaster, Klay Thompson was able to bury his weeklong Rio Olympics nightmare.

The Warriors guard scored 30 points -– 19 more than his total through the first four games -– to lead Team USA to a 100-97 victory over France on Sunday.

The U.S. Olympians, pushed for the third consecutive game, were able to run their record to 5-0 in pool play and clinch the top seed as teams advance to the quarterfinals round on Wednesday.

Warriors forward Kevin Durant finished with 17 points, as Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving each totaled 10. Irving rang up 12 assists, tying a U.S. Olympics record.

[RATTO: Complete viewing guide to the Warriors' 2016-17 NBA season]

Thompson’s magnificent shooting 9-of-16 from the floor, including 7-of-13 from deep, was in stark contrast to his 4-of-26 numbers through the first four games in Rio. Moreover, it allowed Team USA open up a 16-point lead in the third quarter.

“I couldn’t have shot any worse than in the first four games,” Thompson told NBC Sports reporter Ros Gold-Onwude afterward.

“But at the end of the day, we were 4-0,” Thompson added. “It doesn’t matter how you shoot; it only matters what happens on that scoreboard. Build off it, but you can’t get caught up in how you shoot. You’ve got to just play your hardest and everything else will take care of itself.”

Team USA held a 55-46 lead at the half and pushed it to 78-62 on a 3-pointer by Thompson with 2:26 left in the third quarter before France staged a fourth-quarter rally to cut the margin to three when Antoine Diot made a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

France played without Spurs star Tony Parker, who sustained a toe injury on Friday and watched from the bench.

How the Warriors fared:

Durant: 17 points on 6-of-6 shooting, six rebounds and four assists. He started at forward and played 30 minutes.

Draymond Green: 0 points (0-of-1), one assist. He sat for the entire first half before coming off the bench in the third quarter and playing six minutes.

Thompson: 30 points (9-of-16), one assist. He started at guard, playing 26 minutes.

Why Draymond Green's rant defending Marquese Chriss was mostly spot on

Why Draymond Green's rant defending Marquese Chriss was mostly spot on

Injuries have kept players off the court for months, even years, and buried the hopes of entire teams. They’ve derailed entire NBA seasons.

For the Warriors of this season, however, injuries may have brought them prosperity.

Without injuries to projected centers Willie Cauley-Stein and Kevon Looney, they might not know what they have in Marquese Chriss, who was signed to a non-guaranteed contract but is playing his way onto the roster.

The Warriors are positioned to gain what the Suns -- who drafted Chriss in 2016 -- lost when they traded him out of Phoenix after two seasons. That certainly is the perspective of Draymond Green, and his impassioned defense of Chriss is mostly on point.

“He’s been in some pretty tough situations,” Green told reporters Wednesday night, after a 126-93 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. “No one ever blames the situation, though. It’s always the kid. No one ever blames these s---ty franchises. They always want to blame the kid. It’s not always the kid’s fault.

“He’s getting older now, so he’s not a kid anymore. But he came into this league as a kid. But it’s never the organization’s fault. It’s always that guy.”

“So I’m happy he’s got another opportunity to show what he can really do. Because he’s a prime example.”

Green wasn’t quite done. He also saved some ammo for media, indicating reporters are more likely to direct blame on a player than a franchise.

“Because you’re friends with them,” Green said. “You want all the access from them. So, the way you guys will come out and bash players, y’all don’t do that to organizations because it’s all about access and protecting your future. No one really protects these younger guys’ futures. Because it’s all about ‘what can I do for myself.’

“So, no one talks about the organizations. It’s always just the player, the player, the player. Because they can’t do s--t about it but be young. And their name carries no weight, and then (they’ll) be out of the league and onto the next thing.

“No Phoenix writer is going to bash the Phoenix Suns,” Green continued. “But let’s be frank about it. When he was there, the organization was terrible. Everything was going wrong. But he get blamed, like he’s the problem. When he left, ain’t nothing go right. That’s my take on it.”

OK. Again, some of Green’s claims are on target. There are instances of young players being blamed for their failure, while franchises skate.

The Warriors have been skating for a few years now, but it wasn’t always so. They’ve been kicked plenty over the many lean years they put up. Former owner Chris Cohan was such a punching bag that he retreated from media exposure. His right-hand man, former team president Robert Rowell, also took his absorption of bruises from local media.

That’s about where the Suns are now. Since real estate/banking tycoon Robert Sarver purchased the team 15 years ago, they have been in such a freefall that they’ve become a blight on the league.

The Knicks of the Western Conference.

And they have been taken to task -- nationally and locally -- for being a once-proud franchise run aground by cantankerous and penurious ownership.

Green is wrong about that.

Green likely is right about the Suns not knowing what they had in Chriss. Someone in the front office thought enough to draft him No. 8 overall in 2016. But the chaos upstairs -- largely generated by Sarver -- has resulted in a dizzying array of impulsive and regrettable decisions.

If not for the incompetence of Sarver and the Suns, Chriss probably would not be a Warrior, and he certainly wouldn’t have to accept a non-guaranteed contract, as he did 17 days ago.

And if not for injuries to Cauley-Stein and Kevon Looney, the Warriors might not have much of a file on Chriss, either.

[RELATED: Looney to miss preseason; Dubs hope he'll play in opener]

For now, they stand to benefit from having Chriss on the roster. He’s not there yet, but he will be. Any day now.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 126-93 preseason loss to Lakers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 126-93 preseason loss to Lakers

BOX SCORE

The Warriors on Wednesday night got their first -- and what they hope will be last -- look at themselves without Stephen Curry, and the picture that emerged was predictably hideous.

With their halting efforts at defense consistently exploited and their offense failing to materialize, the Warriors suffered through a 126-93 preseason loss to a Lakers team that showed not a moment of mercy at Staples Center.

Curry is healthy but was given the night off, joining a long list of injured Warriors on the sideline. Though he may have made a difference, the Lakers seemed to be on a mission to destroy.

Here are three quick takeaways from a game for which the video review will be unkind to the Warriors:

One for Russell’s trash bin

Curry’s absence gave D'Angelo Russell his first chance to orchestrate the action, and it did not go well. Indeed, it often looked like that bad (17-65) Lakers team D-Lo joined as a rookie in 2015.

And Russell definitely contributed to the defensive mess with numerous blown assignments, late switches and a couple plays when he simply failed to engage.

To make matters worse, Russell didn’t offset things with his offense. Though he scored a team-high 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting (3-of-8 from beyond the arc), he also had more turnovers than assists (four to three) and never seemed to generate any offensive rhythm for the team.

Perhaps this is all part of the development process. He has spent plenty of time working with Curry, during the offseason and thus far this preseason. The two often display a measure of comfort when playing off each other.

With Curry out, Russell appeared to be trapped by a measure of uncertainty, thinking rather than playing. That’s not unusual when there are such unfamiliar surroundings.

Defense exposed again

As the Lakers were running layup drills, 3-point shooting exhibitions and baseline-to-baseline fastbreaks, the Warriors did a little bit of reaching and a lot of watching.

Two nights after coach Steve Kerr urged improvement on defense, the Warriors allowed LA to roll up 104 points in the first three quarters -- before LeBron James and Anthony Davis retired in the fourth -- while shooting 61.5 percent (40-of-65) from the field, including a staggering 60.9 percent (14-of-23) from deep.

LeBron James, now cast as a point guard, did whatever he pleased, something that can happen against even the strongest opposition. He produced 18 points (6-of-9 from the field), 11 assists and four rebounds in 25 minutes.

The Warriors did complete Kerr’s other primary request, which was to reduce the number of fouls. They committed only 16 through the first three quarters -- the “competitive” portion of the game -- after being blown for 28 on Monday night.

The Warriors are going to be able to score, but their fate and placement will be dictated by defense. It is their greatest challenge, and there was no sign of it on this night.

Chriss has to make the roster

As the front office convenes in the coming days to make decisions about the roster, the Marquese Chriss debate will be brief and one-sided.

Has Chriss earned a spot on the roster? Yes.

His presence is required partly out of sheer need, as he is the only healthy “center” on the team. Kevon Looney (hamstring strain) is questionable for opening night. Willie Cauley-Stein (mid-foot sprain) is not expected back until November. Omari Spellman, a forward masquerading as a center, tweaked his back Monday and was sidelined Wednesday.

Chriss, at 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, also happens to be playing well. In 25 minutes, he totaled eight points and four rebounds. Though he splashed a triple in the first quarter, this was the least impressive of his four games this preseason.

[RELATED: Why John Oliver name-dropped Chriss in NBA-China monologue]

The big man has his ponderous moments when he seems to lose focus, but he has done some of everything, and done most of it well.

This wasn’t his best game as a Warrior, but it was enough to prove he belongs.