Warriors

Roaracle no more: For Warriors, Oracle no longer real home court advantage

Roaracle no more: For Warriors, Oracle no longer real home court advantage

OAKLAND – It’s old and cranky and probably bitter about being abandoned.

That would explain why the magic of Oracle Arena, once the most reliable component of recent seasons – the best stretch in franchise history – has turned on the Warriors this season.

The cloak of invincibility they used to wear like a shield has been shot through with holes signifying vulnerability, the latest example coming Saturday in a 126-91 shellacking under a torrent of 3-pointers by the openly transitioning and largely nondescript Dallas Mavericks.

For all the talk about chasing the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference – which still is probable – and having home-court advantage for as much of the postseason as possible, the Warriors in this game were light on both spirit and performance.

The talk might be appropriate for reasons of identifying a goal, but it is profoundly hollow in the face of reality. With a home record (25-11) that is one game better than the road record (24-12), the Warriors no longer have a real home-court advantage. It has been weakening for a couple years, and now it’s as gone as the easily affordable ticket.

“It is weird,” Draymond Green said. “You’re supposed to win at home. And you expect to win at home. We’ve had quite a few letdowns this year.”

This 35-point loss is, however, the worst in 200 games at Oracle under coach Steve Kerr. And it comes 18 days after the previous worst, a 33-point drubbing by the Boston Celtics on March 5.

The Warriors went 39-2 at home in 2014-15. That’s a home-court advantage. They were 39-2 the next season, solidifying their dominance at Oracle. They thought they might be slipping when they were 36-5 at home in 2016-17.

The real slip came last season, when the Warriors were no better at home than on the road, posting 29-12 records in both columns. That, folks, is not a home-court advantage at all.

The Warriors, coaches and players, expressed a strong desire, to make this season, the last in Oakland and at Oracle, special and memorable. Give Oracle a proper farewell. Go out with a splash.

This was the sixth time this season they’ve lost a home game by at least 20 points. The Bucks (134-111 on Nov. 8) were terrific, the Thunder (123-95 on Nov. 21) were rolling, the Raptors (113-93) were out to make a statement, as were the Celtics (128-95).

But the other two blowouts, to the Lakers (127-101 on Christmas Day) and the Mavericks should be unfathomable, no matter how bored the Warriors might be with the regular season.

“You kind of sensed the energy wasn’t there,” Green said. “That’s kind of normal in a game like that. I didn’t really get the sense we would lose by 40.”

It was 35, but it may as well have been 40, as Dallas led by as much as 43.

The Mavericks, who had lost their last 12 games at Oracle, attacked from the start and never backed off. Nor was this 28-44 team put in its place. Dallas drilled 13 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 21 triples (in 49 attempts), one short of their season-high and tying the Rockets’ total (on Jan. 3) for the most against the Warriors this season.

Houston’s 21 triples also came at Oracle.

What magic?

“It was their offense and it was our (defensive) breakdowns,” Klay Thompson said.

The Warriors lacked verve at both ends. They defended as if they had no respect for the Mavericks and compounded that by shooting 40 percent overall and only 13.3 percent (4-of-30) from distance.

The Warriors were down by 12 (14-2) less than four minutes after tipoff, down by 23 (51-28) less than three minutes into the second quarter. Six different Mavericks made at least two triples, with rookie sensation Luka Doncic banging four and Dirk Nowitzki, in what may be his last season, draining a season-high five while totaling a season-high 21 points.

“I think everybody in that locker room has gotten their asses beaten at home before,” Kevin Durant said. “I know this experience is different, with how much winning we’ve done the last few years. But we’re still in the NBA. Guys have been a part of terrible games, along with the great games as well.

“The good thing about it is we play (Sunday) night, too.”

Well, yes. The Detroit Pistons come into Oracle for their annual visit. They won here last season. They’re nearly as beatable as the Mavericks, as if that matters.

Oracle doesn’t mean what it once did for the Warriors, who don’t exploit its advantages as they have in the past. If the Warriors are to win another championship, we’ve seen enough to know home court won’t be the deciding factor.

Warriors' Jordan Poole showing more progress after bad start to season

Warriors' Jordan Poole showing more progress after bad start to season

SAN FRANCISCO -- With four seconds left in the third quarter of the Warriors' 190-95 win over Magic on Saturday, Jordan Poole ran full speed to the right-wing with a bucket on his mind. 

Sprinting alongside teammate Omari Spellman, Poole received a pass from the big man, pump faked, took a dribble and drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer, pushing the Warriors lead to 11. 

Walking to the bench, Poole had both arms in the air, and was yelling "Yeahhhh" towards the crowd. Similar plays have been the norm for Poole over the last week as he gradually digs himself out a bad start to his rookie season. 

"He's starting to figure out where his spots are," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "Where his spots are and his comfort zone and how to impact a game." 

Remnants of Poole's improvement were on display early Saturday night. After Golden State went down 13-0 four and a half minutes into the contest, Poole scored 11 first-quarter points, helping Golden State take a 28-25 lead by the end of the period. Poole totaled 21 points for the game, including four 3-pointers, providing another example of his evolution. In his past three outings, Poole is averaging 16 points on 45 percent from the field. 

Such stretches are uncommon considering the start of Poole's career. During his first 29 games -- with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson out of the lineup -- he shot just 25 percent, prompting a demotion to the G League. While his shot was ineffective, it was his propensity to not give all-out effort that drew ire of the coaching staff. On his way down to Santa Cruz, Kerr gave him a player that he'd like Poole to use a blueprint for success: Pelicans guard JJ Redick. More specifically, the shooter's habit of constant movement on the defensive end, complimented by his shooting ability. 

Poole followed suit during his G League stint, averaging 26 points, 5.3 assists and 1.3 steals in three games. The performance has carried over back to the NBA, as he's making 42 percent of his 3-pointers over his last three games. But he showed his  growth six minutes into the third quarter Saturday, when he fought through two screens, moved his feet on Magic guard Evan Fournier before stripping the guard, causing a fast break on the other end, prompting praise from his coach and teammates along the way.  

"He's doing better on defense, handling the ball and making plays," Kerr said. "The game is so fast at this level. Everything happens much faster, so whether you are defending somebody or having to get over a screen or leave a rotation or if you have the ball and you are trying to make a pass, everything just happens quicker than you are used to. I think the time in Santa Cruz helped him gain more confidence and maybe the game has slowed down a bit ... He just looks more confident and comfortable."

"I think his approach has been better," teammate D'Angelo Russell added. "I think that's what's contributed to him successfully on the court. Not just worrying about his shots but his demeanor, his approach is business-like."

Poole's progression comes as the Warriors are in transition. As he works towards a long-term role, organizational cornerstones Curry and Thompson are working their way back from injuries, while Russell -- an All-Star guard -- is giving 20-year old daily lessons on how to be a pro.

[RELATED: Paschall regains form after tough stretch]

"I'm like a kid in the candy store, especially being able to have Steph, Klay and [Russell]," Poole said on Warriors Postgame Live. "I'm in awe every day. You wouldn't want to be in any other situation." 

As Poole celebrated his buzzer-beater, Curry sat on a makeshift stage, soaking in the rookie's latest step as a pro, leaving compliments along the way. 

"The way that he's fought through his early-season struggles and gone down to Santa Cruz, really able to work on his game, see the floor, get his rhythm and shoot the ball the way he's been doing the last few games," Curry said during NBC Sports Bay Area's broadcast. "That's what an NBA player is made of. It's not going to be pretty but you got to keep coming back to try and make it work."

Warriors' rookie Eric Paschall back to looking like a long-term keeper

Warriors' rookie Eric Paschall back to looking like a long-term keeper

SAN FRANCISCO -- No one in the Warriors' front office or on the coaching staff knows the extent of Eric Paschall’s NBA potential. Neither does he. In the fourth month of his career, he has provided ample evidence to engage debate.

After his first six weeks: Solid Rookie of the Year candidate.

After the next five weeks, during which endured assorted aches and pains in his joints: Uh, um, well, maybe he’s solid rotation player.

After the last two: He can start for any team and produce under pretty much any condition.

Paschall shed some light on his progress Saturday night after doing his part and more to lift the Warriors to a 109-95 win over the Orlando Magic. Making his second start since Dec. 11, he scored 20 points, grabbed nine rebounds and added two steals in 35 minutes.

He was a difference-maker, looking much more like the player we’d glimpsed in the first six weeks than during the five that followed.

There is, he acknowledged, a reason for that.

“I feel those injuries were kind of a blessing in disguise in terms of my body and getting the proper rest I needed,” he said of discomfort felt in both hips during various stages of December.

“Your rookie year is probably your longest year because right after college you’re going to pre-draft workouts, flying across the country for a workout, maybe have a back-to-back workout. Right after that, you go into training camp for summer league. Right after that, you go into training camp. So, you don’t really get a lot of time off. That was really good for me in terms of my body and having time to recover.”

This point, which can be lost in translation, is particularly applicable to Paschall because he played four years of college ball, 27 games as a freshman at Fordham and 110 at powerhouse Villanova. The Wildcats played deep into March.

Coming to the Warriors this season, when much of their roster was being rebuilt, Paschall dived into the opportunity to play. A lot. He averaged a team-high 33 minutes over his first 22 NBA games, 19 of which he scored in double figures. He didn’t hit the vaunted “rookie wall.” He was thrown up against it.

Paschall missed two games in mid-December due to soreness in his left hip. He missed two more games in late-December with what was described as a contusion on his right hip.

As he made several attempts to play through the discomfort, it was apparent he was not struggling. His production took a steep drop, as did his minutes. He scored 70 points in the first four games of December, 73 over the next 11, bleeding into January.

Paschall’s 20-point game Saturday was his first since he rang up 24 points on Dec. 2. His nine rebounds were the most since he pulled that same amount on that same night.

Citing Paschall’s solid play over the previous four games, it was an easy call for coach Steve Kerr to start the 6-6, 250-pound rookie at power forward Saturday for the ailing Draymond Green.

The reward was efficiency (8-of-14 shooting from the field, 2-of-5 from beyond the arc) and impact and indicated, again, that Paschall is better suited to power forward than small forward, where he also has spent some time.

“It’s just more floor spacing,” Kerr said. “He’s so quick off the dribble and he’s got that burst at the rim, so when he’s at the four, even with a great athlete like Aaron Gordon out there, he still has the space to go to the rim and create a play.

“At the three, it’s a little more difficult to do that because you have more big guys in the paint. It’s an easier position for Eric to play, and he was fantastic.”

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After initially suggesting his game is no different at small forward than it is at power forward, Paschall agreed with Kerr’s assessment.

“Yeah, I understand why he says that, in terms of just being able to attack,” he said. “Now that I think about it, I would say spacing at the four is (beneficial).”

There is little debate about that. And no debate at all that Paschall has the physical tools and mental makeup to prosper in the NBA.