Warriors

Swaggy 3s: Warriors send 'shoot it, shoot it, shoot it' message to Nick Young

Swaggy 3s: Warriors send 'shoot it, shoot it, shoot it' message to Nick Young

OAKLAND -- Meanwhile, the Warriors are preparing to defend their NBA championship.

With most inquiries and discussion over the past three days related to the growing conflict between President Donald Trump and professional athletes, with the Warriors being central to the topic, their first preseason game looms on Saturday.

If one thing rang clear after practice Sunday, it’s that coaches and players want Nick Young to be the shooter they wanted when they signed him in July.

Through the first two practices, Young has been such a reluctant shooter that Andre Iguodala and some of the incumbent Warriors have been urging him to shoot.

“I’ve been saying the same thing to Nick -- shoot it, shoot it, shoot it,” coach Steve Kerr said Sunday after practice. “The whole thing for any of our new guys to understand is we want the first good shot we can find. If we don’t have a good shot, try to get a great shot.

“Let’s keep the ball moving, but be aggressive and find that balance. I don’t want Nick out there thinking. He’s one of the best shooters in the league and he should let it fly every time he’s open.”

Through the first two practices, it seems Young is more concerned with adapting to a new culture.

“I found myself passing a little bit more than normal today,” he said, chuckling. “It felt good, as long as I was getting some assists.”

That’s not why the Warriors hired the reserve guard after four seasons with the Lakers. Bench scoring was a visible weakness last season, and Young has averaged double figures in scoring in six of the last seven seasons.

He is particularly fond of the 3-point shot, having taken more triples than 2-point shots in each of the past two seasons. Young shot 40.4 percent from deep last season in Los Angeles.

Given the talent around Young now, and the fact that the 10-year veteran will be facing fellow reserves, he can expect to have even greater scoring opportunities.

“I’ve been getting a lot of open 3s,” Young said. “I’ve got to get used to not having somebody guarding me that much, get used to being in that corner for a while.”

In all likelihood, the Warriors won’t have to cajole Young much longer. He has developed during his 10-year career a reputation for chucking ‘em up. So, in all likelihood, the Warriors won’t have to do much more cajoling.

“Everybody’s going full speed,” Young said. “The more I get used to the plays, the more the shots will be open. I’m just in everybody’s way right now.”

Warriors must strike delicate balance between confidence and arrogance

Warriors must strike delicate balance between confidence and arrogance

SAN ANTONIO -- Even while reeling as never before in games of significance, the Warriors continue to exhibit a self-assurance that borders on arrogance.

Draymond Green says they’ll “be fine.”

Kevin Durant says the mood in the locker room is “good.”

Stephen Curry says he’s proud of his teammates for their unified handling of the agitation created by the infamous upheaval between Durant and Green on Monday.

Even after their 112-109 loss to the Mavericks on Saturday night in Dallas, there was Klay Thompson saying, “we feel great.”

It’s almost as if they’re embracing a concept that most teams -- especially contenders -- abhor. The “moral victory.”

Given the breathtaking recent history, perhaps the Warriors have earned the privilege of arrogance. They’ve accomplished things no other team has. They’re in the midst of trying to win a third consecutive championship, something just three NBA teams have achieved.

But such unwavering swagger in the face of reality feels a little like denial. And denial is not a healthy way to approach much of anything in life, particularly when there are so many witnesses.

The Warriors, honestly, are staggering. They’ve lost three of four, the lone victory coming against the wretched Atlanta Hawks, who stayed close to the champs longer than would be acceptable under normal circumstances.

The Mavericks, a team undergoing transition, were too much for the Warriors in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve just got to keep getting better,” Durant told reporters afterward. “We had great looks in the fourth, especially myself. I missed about five or six good looks.

“I wish I could have knocked down those shots for the team. But I’m glad we’ve got a game tomorrow.”

Asked what it would take for them to get out of this skid, Thompson kept it plain and simple.

“Win tomorrow,” he said. “It’s pretty simple.”

A win Sunday against the Spurs would be a meaningful step for the Warriors toward restoring their routine and sanity. What they’ve gone through this week is both unusual and disturbing, whether they care to admit or not. It is evident in listening to Durant that he still is annoyed by not only the content of the argument but also the constant references to it.

Asked about the vibe around the team, Durant offered words sprinkled with salt.

“We’re just trying to move forward,” he said. “Are we going to talk about this the whole year? We just want to play ball. I know that’s all I want to do.”

Who knew that a single victory over a San Antonio team with its own problems could mean so much? And, really, it would matter.

But not nearly as much as the return of Curry and Green, along with the good-time vibe that makes the Warriors the Warriors.

When the Warriors are “fine” or “good” or “great,” they chase more than victory. They pursue excellence -- the ability to dominate with such panache -- that they can all laugh together about it.

Only then will the arrogance seem fitting.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from narrow loss to Mavericks

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from narrow loss to Mavericks

BOX SCORE

The Warriors in recent seasons have dominated the Dallas Mavericks, taking a 10-game win streak into American Airlines Center on Saturday.

That streak is gone, replaced by another the Warriors didn’t want.  

With the Mavericks coming back in the fourth quarter to pull out a 112-109 victory -- their first over the Warriors since Dec. 30, 2015 -- the defending NBA champs have a two-game losing streak for the first time since last April.

Here are three takeaways from the game:  

The stars faded late

With Stephen Curry and Draymond Green out, the Warriors looked to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to take them home in the fourth quarter. Neither was able.

Durant scored a game-high 32 points but just three in the fourth. He shot 1 of 7 in the quarter, after going 10 of 17 in the first three. He played the final 6:12 and was minus-7 during his stint. After dropping in a jumper to give the Warriors a 106-103 lead with 3:13 to play, Durant missed his final four field-goal attempts.

Thompson fared only slightly better, scoring seven of his 22 points in the fourth on 3-of-8 shooting. He worked free for a good look on a potential tying shot with 10.6 seconds left, but he missed the 16-footer.

Durant and Thompson combined to shoot 20 of 48 (41.7 percent) from the field, including 2 of 15 (13.3 percent) from deep. They were 7 of 25 and 1 of 8 after halftime. Those are tough numbers for the Warriors to overcome.  

The bench carried a lot of weight

The reserves probably realized it would be up to them to fill the gaps created by the absences of Alfonzo McKinnie, Curry and Green. They performed nicely.

The Warriors’ bench outscored that of Dallas 42-25; the Mavericks reserves had outscored those of their opponents 163-69 in their previous three games. The Warriors' crew shot 57.1 percent (16 of 28) from the field and 60 percent (6 of 10) beyond the arc.

Guard Damion Lee, called up from G-League Santa Cruz and arriving in Dallas less than 24 hours before tipoff, scored 13 points in 18 minutes. Quinn Cook, again playing behind Andre Iguodala, put in 15 points in 22 minutes, and Shaun Livingston added 12, the first time this season he has reached double figures.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr made a lineup change at center, with Kevon Looney -- who has been the most proficient of the young big men -- replacing Damian Jones, who started the first 16 games. Jones played one of his better games, scoring just two points but adding seven rebounds and four blocks over 22 minutes.

If the reserves continue to perform at anywhere near this level, they might be able to carry the Warriors to a victory.  

The team was ready to play

Kerr expressed confidence that the Warriors would recover from their blowout loss Thursday night Houston. His projection was accurate.

They reduced their turnover count from 17 in Houston to an acceptable 12. They outrebounded the bigger Mavericks (47-46) and had more assists (24-18). Five Warriors scored in double figures.

Durant and Thompson started well, shooting 13 of 23 in the first half, as the Warriors built an eight-point lead in less than seven minutes.

The Warriors were solid for a full three quarters and early in the fourth, when they pushed the lead back to eight (90-82) before being outscored 30-19 over the final 11 minutes.

The defending champs simply weren’t the better team when it mattered most.