Warriors

Rewind: Warriors commit sin in Kerr's offense, fail to close out Rockets

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Rewind: Warriors commit sin in Kerr's offense, fail to close out Rockets

OAKLAND – The Warriors, possessors of the NBA’s best offense, never really found their rhythm Thursday night against one of the league’s softest defenses, and the disappointment was not limited to seeing the end of a winning streak.

No, the Warriors didn’t much like what they put on the floor in a 132-127 double-overtime loss to Houston. They engaged in a bit of self-flagellation and, quite frankly, they deserved it.

“All in all, it was our execution,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We weren’t moving and cutting like we normally do. I just felt like our ball movement went away and as a result we just kind of fell into their switching and kind of went one-on-one and took difficult shots. We have to do better with that.”

Which may be why Draymond Green, in a scorching dissection of the Warriors’ performance, spared no one.

[POOLE: Draymond sarcastically praises refs after frustrating loss to Rockets]

“We didn’t shoot well, and a part of that not shooting well was we were just standing there,” he began. “And it turned into the Steph Curry Show, the Kevin Durant Show. And that’s not who we are. We move the ball – and then it turns into the Steph Curry Show, and then it turns into the Kevin Durant Show. And they’re getting great shots.

“It’s not their fault that I was standing at the top of the key, and the other guys were standing on the weak side watching them play. I would do what they were doing, too, if everybody else is just standing there watching. That falls on us. We were over there watching.”

No aspect was more maddening for the Warriors than the two overtimes, during which they shot 25 percent (5-of-20) – including an utterly galling 9.1 percent in the second and decisive five-minute period.

They failed to get a field goal before Curry fouled out with 3:25 left, and got only one as he watched from the bench. Houston focused on Durant, whose efforts to carry the Warriors were in vain, as he was 0-of-4 in the second OT.

“Our offense wasn’t moving,” Green said. “(Durant) took all tough shots, and it wasn’t his fault. Everybody else stood and watched him play. I don’t think he was necessarily tired. I think every shot he took in overtime was contested, because we were all standing there.”

That’s a sin in Kerr’s offense, which relies on movement by the players and the ball. Instead, the offense seemed to deflate. Joining Green and Durant on the floor for most of the finish were Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

They managed four points in five minutes, with Green accounting for all four.

Truthfully, though, the Warriors were sagging all night. Though Durant started well enough, making 8-of-14 through three quarters (he was 4-of-14 from the fourth quarter on), he got little help. Thompson was 4-of-20. Curry was 9-of-22.

“We didn’t move the ball very well and we didn’t execute down the stretch,” Kerr explained.

Houston was superior almost across the board, from shooting percentage to rebounding and from points in the paint to second-chance points, which is why they led for the vast majority of the game.

James Harden was fabulous on offense, pretty much orchestrating the action en route to a triple double (29 points, 15 rebounds, 13 assists). Ryan Anderson scored 29 points.

The Rockets were particularly effective grabbing offensive rebounds and turning them into points.

“We have to do a better job, come in and grab rebounds,” said Durant, who pulled 13. “If we had grabbed a couple of more, we would have won this game, but life has to move on.”

With Durant scoring 39 points and Green (20 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists) trying to will them to victory, the Warriors hung around. But when Curry and Thompson combine for 13-of-42 shooting, 7-of-26 beyond the arc, the Warriors usually are in trouble.

“We had our moments especially in the first overtime,” Kerr said. “We had a real cushion. I think we were up four (119-115, 4:11 left) and I thought we let it slip away at that point when we had every opportunity to finish them off.”

The Warriors instead were outscored 17-8 over the final nine minutes of action. That has to hurt when you’re rich in offensive talent, in a system designed to ring up points. All too often on this night, the Warriors seemed to forget about that.
 

Jalen Rose: Draymond Green 'scapegoat' if Kevin Durant leaves Warriors

Jalen Rose: Draymond Green 'scapegoat' if Kevin Durant leaves Warriors

If Kevin Durant leaves the Warriors in free agency next summer, fans will need someone to blame.

ESPN's Jalen Rose — a former NBA player himself — knows exactly who will take the fall for Durant walking away.

Draymond Green.

"There are certain things you can say to me in a disagreement and our relationship will never be the same," Rose said Monday morning on ESPN's Get Up! "That's what happened with Draymond and KD.

“This will be their final season playing together in Golden State. A lot of people speculated already that KD would be leaving. Unfortunately now for Draymond, he'll be the scapegoat to a lot of fans, to a lot of members of the media, but I don't think that's going to deter them from their ultimate goal of winning a third straight championship."

Green and Durant got into a heated exchange at the end of regulation last Monday in Los Angeles. Green was suspended for his involvement in the incident, and things appeared to blow over last Thursday when the two players were seen walking into the Toyota Center in Houston together.

But the Warriors have lost three consecutive games and haven't looked like the joyful bunch that has won three of the last four NBA titles.

Four specific steps to fix the struggling 12-6 Warriors

Four specific steps to fix the struggling 12-6 Warriors

SAN ANTONIO -- Losers of three consecutive games, the Warriors would like to think they have bottomed out, that returning to the warm bosom of Oracle Arena will be the panacea for all that has ailed them over the past eight days.

Coming home might make a difference, but they still have to play the games.

Here are four specific ways the Warriors can dig out of a place they’ve never under coach Steve Kerr:

STEP ONE

Fix Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant not only is missing shots, he’s missing presence. He’s playing as if his mind is elsewhere, particularly on defense, where his indifferent closeouts indicate disengagement.

His offensive numbers over five games last week were poor by any standard but downright atrocious for his own. His field-goal percentage was 39.6, nearly 10 points below his career percentage. His 3-point shooting percentage was 14.3, a full 24 points below his career percentage.

He’s shooting 92.5 percent from the free-throw line, the one place where he looks like KD.

When fully engaged and enthusiastic, Durant is one of the NBA’s most ferocious weapons. When he’s not fully invested, he looks like this.

Durant has carried teams before, and he likely will do it again. The Warriors must find a way to unlock that dude. Nothing has worked so far. Time to call a psychologist?

STEP TWO

Insert Cook as starting point guard

There might not be a guard in the NBA that Quinn Cook is able to lock down. Defense is not his thing and never will be his thing.

He earned a Warriors contract because he can shoot. And with Klay Thompson and Durant struggling to score, especially from beyond the arc, Cook is the man best suited to fill this gaping void.

Cook is shooting 52.6 percent from the field, 48 percent beyond the arc. He has been the most accurate deep shooter on the team not named Stephen Curry.

Cook started the first three games after Curry went down with a groin injury, with the Warriors going 2-1. With Kerr wanting a defensive presence, Andre Iguodala was inserted as starter for the last three, with the Warriors going 0-3.

It’s not Iguodala’s fault. He’s doing what he does -- but not what Cook does. The Warriors are 2-4 since Curry went down with a groin injury, the victories coming in the only two games in which Cook played at least 30 minutes.

STEP THREE

Run some pick and roll

With Curry out, the floor shrinks on the offensive end. Even though the insertion of Jonas Jerebko into the starting lineup at power forward helps stretch the floor, Durant and Thompson aren’t getting anything close to their usual space.

Why not turn to pick-and-roll action featuring Durant and Cook? Or Cook and Damian Jones, whose shooting is iffy but his diving toward the rim is fantastic?

There are a few other combinations that have potential, and most them involve Durant. He likes pick-and-roll because it’s effective and he loves to make a defender look bad.

Kerr, of course, is not a fan of pick-and-roll as a staple. He feels it turns too many of his offensive weapons into spectators. He’s not wrong. But it’s a wrinkle that has worked in the past.

Durant has said that Curry is the Warriors’ system. Put another way, the Warriors can’t run their stuff nearly as well without him. So why not offer a different look?

STEP FOUR

Get Curry healthy

There is a belief among some within the organization that the Warriors won’t get their identity back until Curry returns. There is some truth to that.

One of the reasons Thompson has had such a wonderful career is that he plays alongside Curry. Curry on the court is its own gravitational pull. Opposing defenders have a way of falling toward him on every play.

This one is not an immediate fix; the Warriors have not issued a timeline for Curry’s return. But his return, whenever it is -- maybe sometime within the next 10 days -- will automatically unleash the best of the offense.

If Durant still can’t get himself going, the problem is even deeper than it appears.