Steve Kerr uses scaled-down 'Death Lineup' to spark Warriors' first win

Steve Kerr uses scaled-down 'Death Lineup' to spark Warriors' first win

NEW ORLEANS -- Warriors coach Steve Kerr has always had the luxury of an antidote whenever his team found itself on the brink during the last five seasons.

Dubbed the "Death Lineup," the unit that Kerr rolled out in those moments employed 6-foot-5 forward Draymond Green at center, surrounded by four shooters, including Andre Iguodala, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes (and then Kevin Durant, which turned it into the "Super Death Lineup"), helping Golden State overcome major deficits to win three NBA championships in five years.

On Monday night, with the less-star-studded Warriors facing an 0-3 start to the season, a lineup consisting of Curry, D'Angelo Russell, Glenn Robinson III, rookie Jordan Poole and Green at center momentarily helped Golden State get its season back on track.

In the Warriors' 134-123 win over the Pelicans, Green made an imprint early. On the game's first possession, he received a pass from Curry, faked a pass of his own and drove in for an easy layup, giving the Warriors their first lead of the season. Four minutes later, Green secured a rebound and flipped a perfect pass to Jordan Poole, who then hit a 3-pointer.

By night's end, Green had registered a triple-double, with 16 points, 10 assists and 17 rebounds, finishing a game-high plus-36 from the floor.

"I thought it gave us a better chance to get started early, open up the floor," Kerr said of the lineup. "When Draymond is in the middle of our offense, as the fulcrum, he's going to generate a lot of offense. So he's difficult to handle out there."

"He's just a playmaker," Curry said. "He knows how to get to the right spots and make other guys better just by getting the ball on time and on target or putting pressure on the rim. He's made a living doing that on the offensive end and featuring the weapons around him."

Historically, the "Death Lineup" has been used to push the pace. With Green at center alongside shooters, Golden State could do just that, essentially running teams off the floor.

This time, Kerr's decision to put Green at center came as a necessity. With Durant gone to Brooklyn, Iguodala technically in Memphis and Thompson potentially out of the season, Golden State's defense had plummeted to the bottom of the league. In their first two games, the Warriors were outscored 261-214. Adding to the troubles, three of the team's four big men are out with injuries, including defensive specialist Kevon Looney and 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein.

In recent games, the Warriors have been forced to rely on their inexperienced core, including six players under the age of 26. All too frequently, players have been out of position, often second-guessing actions while overthinking the system, a trend they momentarily reversed Monday.

"There's a level of intensity we got to, a level of energy that we hadn't seen in the first two games," Kerr said. "I thought it was more confusion on our young guys kind of trying to figure out where to be rather than lack of effort. When you're thinking too much, it's tough to just let it go and play. Tonight, I felt like we just played. Our guys didn't think too much."

For the moment, lineups including Green at center will continue. Looney's immediate future is uncertain, and Cauley-Stein doesn't have a return date. Still, some believe the current unit could even mirror the famous Death Lineup.

[RELATED: Draymond rips those who question his leadership style]

"We'll find something like that with this group over time," Curry said. "But there was a lot of high-IQ guys, veterans that know how to play their game and have been through so much in their careers so just up into that point. You can't rush things.

"Again, that'll come. We have to find the identity with this squad and like the go-to lineup is."

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 129-124 OT road loss to Blazers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 129-124 OT road loss to Blazers


PORTLAND -- The Warriors and Blazers matchup has provided plenty of memorable moments in the last decade. 

Now, even with both teams out of the playoff picture, they provided another thriller Monday night, with the Blazers (19-26) winning 129-124 in overtime at Moda Center. 

Along the way, Oakland-native Damian Lillard scored career-high 61 points, overcoming a balanced offensive effort from Eric Paschall, Alec Burks and D'Angelo Russell. 

After Lillard hit a 3-pointer to force overtime, the Blazers outscored Golden State 16-11 in the extra session, capped by two free throws from Lillard to seal the loss. In a season defined by injury, Monday's loss provided several lessons for the young core.

Here are the takeaways from a loss that gives the Warriors a 10-35 record:

Burks shines

With Russell struggling early and the Warriors failing to make any 3-pointers in the first quarter, an offensive spark was needed. By the end of the night, Burks provided that, scoring 33 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out eight assists. 

Burks started early, scoring Golden State's first nine points of the contest, becoming the lone bright spot in a quarter the Warriors shot 32.1 percent from the field. Down the stretch, he hit timely shots to combat Lillard's huge night. 

The performance was on brand for Burks, who came into Monday's game averaging 16.4 points over his last eight games. With most of Golden State's reputable scoring options on the bench, Burks will need to continue his current level of play for the team to have a chance. 

Marquese Chriss flies around

For the last week, Chriss has been adjusting to life as a two-way player, skipping most practices to preserve his active days on the roster. On Monday, he showed little sign of rust, scoring 14 points and pulling down six rebounds. 

Chriss was especially good in the second quarter, scoring six points in seven minutes, helping the Warriors take a 12-point lead. As he's shown throughout the season,  Chriss can be a difference-maker, especially as a lob threat. Under his current contract, he can prove to be a long-term difference maker. At his current pace, he's on track to do so. 

What rookie wall?

Recently, Paschall has been hearing questions about the drop from his early-season performance, prompting murmurs that he's hitting a "rookie wall." In the last week, he's momentarily quelled the noise, providing another strong display against the Blazers.

In 42 minutes, he scored 22 points and secured 13 rebounds. Paschall was especially good in the third quarter, scoring 10 points during the stretch, helping the Warriors take a five-point lead into the fourth quarter. 

The performance was indicative of Paschall's recent play. Entering Monday's game, he averaged 17.3 points and 5.7 rebounds over his last three games. If his latest output was any indication, he looks to be right back on track in his rookie season.

Charles Barkley calls Steph Curry, Klay Thompson 'Stay and Kleph'

Charles Barkley calls Steph Curry, Klay Thompson 'Stay and Kleph'

Charles Barkley needs to put some respect on Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

But first, he needs to figure out how to say their names correctly.

At halftime of the Warriors-Blazers game, the TNT analyst was trying to say "Steph and Klay." Instead, he said this:

It was probably just a slip of the tongue, but considering it came from Barkley, Warriors fans wouldn't be faulted for thinking this was just another slight from the zero-time NBA champion.

All throughout the Warriors' five-year NBA Finals run, Barkley routinely criticized them. He kept saying a jump-shooting team couldn't win a championship (there's so many things wrong with that statement.)

Just last week, Barkley took a shot at Draymond Green, saying "Draymond don't talk as much since he's averaging that triple single."

On opening night in October, Thompson joined the TNT crew for their halftime show and Barkley told the All-Star shooting guard the Warriors wouldn't make the playoffs.

[RELATED: Steph targeting March 1 return]

In the end, Steph and Klay will always have the last laugh over Barkley. They have three rings (and counting). He has none.

Do you know how to say "none" correctly, Chuck?