Warriors

With technical fouls piling up, Warriors look to strike a balance

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USATSI

With technical fouls piling up, Warriors look to strike a balance

OAKLAND -- Maybe it’s the sense of entitlement that comes with unprecedented success followed by immense popularity, but the Warriors have become one of those teams that make NBA officials cringe.

The griping and gesturing and staring and occasional profanity -- the Warriors are guilty of it all and, yes, sometimes the calls are so atrocious they’re an affront to the art of refereeing.

General manager Bob Myers has seen and heard enough. On Thursday, he acted.

In the wake of the Warriors being slammed with five technical fouls and the ejection of Draymond Green on 125-105 loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Myers met with the team to discuss on-court conduct and the spate of technical fouls that are assessed to the Warriors.

“Hopefully, they remembered it for more than five minutes and they hung on to it,” he said prior to a 121-103 victory over the Mavericks. “But you never know. It seems like they were listening a little bit.”

Green quickly proved containing this issue is going to be a work in progress. He picked up technical foul with 8:12 left in the second quarter. After making a layup in transition, the ball dropped into his lap before he quickly dumped it on the floor and that was enough for referee Tre Maddox to issue a delay of game warning.

When Green, jogging out near the midcourt stripe with his back to Maddox, heard the delay whistle, he turned and raised both arms in surprise. As he spun away, getting back on defense, he waved his hand in the general direction of Maddox, who was maybe 40 feet away when he whistled the technical.

“Miss more layups, don’t let the ball hit me and then don’t throw air punches, which I’m still trying to find out what an air punch was,” Green said as part of a colorful, animated, scientific response.

That was Green’s 14th technical foul, leaving two away from a one-game suspension, something that surely was on Myers’ mind as addressed the team earlier in the day.

“They’ve worked very hard as individuals to cultivate a reputation that I think is mostly appreciated out there, certainly in our local market,” Myers said. “Beyond that, through their play and their character, their demeanor, the way Steve coaches, the way they share. I said that we need to work to protect that and acknowledge it. But that takes care to sustain that.”

Green leads the NBA with 14 technical fouls, according to NBA.com statistics. Kevin Durant is tied for second with 11. Steve Kerr has five, leaving him in a six-way tie for fourth place among coaches, which is a problem in itself.

“I’m as guilty as anybody,” Kerr said. “I think I’m second in the league in coaches’ technicals with seven. We all need to do a better job of staying poised. I don’t like the look of the constant complaining, myself included. We have to get better with that.”

Kerr was wrong on his total but correct in his acknowledgment. The Warriors are tarnishing what once was a fairly upstanding reputation.

The players are keeping officials busy. The Warriors have been slapped with 35 technical fouls, putting them in a first-place tie with the Suns and two ahead of Oklahoma City.

Green and Durant account for 25, with no other player with more than two (Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala).

“We want competitive people,” Myers said. “One of my favorite things about Steve and Draymond is their deep, deep competitiveness. That’s fantastic. That’s what we want. But at the same time, how do you channel that appropriately? How do I do it? How do they do it? How do any of us that have that inside of us live in that?

“You don’t want to tame someone who has that characteristic. But I think they both would say that they can work on that.”

There is a line that must be walked and managed. The Warriors at their best are a passionate bunch, with Green and Kerr particularly fiery. But if they can’t keep their emotional blazes under some degree of control, it could backfire.

“We need to represent our team in a better light,” Kerr said.

“Just play the game,” Durant said. “Worry about each possession and trying to be the best we can each possession, trying to win in possession. We did that tonight. That’s a step in the right direction and that’ll make up for a lot of problems if we just worry about trying to win each possession no matter what.

“Guys flew around tonight. We got stops. We blocked shots. It felt like we got back to getting our hands on basketballs, helping out a little bit more, getting steals. When we do that, we don’t have enough time to worry about refs.”

Chris Paul being evaluated for a right hamstring injury following Game 5

Chris Paul being evaluated for a right hamstring injury following Game 5

The Rockets picked up a big win in Game 5 on Thursday night, but they may have suffered a very big loss as well.

Inside the final minute of the fourth quarter, Chris Paul drove on Warriors guard Quinn Cook. Paul missed the shot and his landing seemed innocent enough, but the All-Star guard came up limping and was holding the back of his right leg as the play moved to the Warriors' end of the court. After a stoppage in play a few moments later, Paul limped to the sideline and didn't return to the game.

Following the game, the Rockets announced that Paul is being evaluated for a right hamstring injury. According to the TNT broadcast, Paul is receiving treatment for the injury and the team will release more information on Friday.

Before the injury, Paul played a huge part in putting the Rockets in position to win. He finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals.

Game 6 between the Rockets and Warriors is on Saturday at 6pm. Coverage begins with Warriors Outsiders on NBC Sports Bay Area at 4:30pm and continues with Warriors Playoff Central at 5pm.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Rockets 95, Warriors 92
Game 5 Rockets 98, Warriors 94
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm

Why the no-longer-invulnerable Warriors are one loss away from elimination

Why the no-longer-invulnerable Warriors are one loss away from elimination

When the Golden State Warriors were invulnerable, Stephen Curry’s drives to the basket with 15 seconds left not only resulted in a basket but a game-sealing and-one.
 
When the Golden State Warriors were invulnerable, Draymond Green’s rebound tap-out would have gone to a teammate, or he would simply have seized it.
 
When the Golden State Warriors were invulnerable, Curry’s pass to Green with 2.4 seconds left would have gone to Klay Thompson, or to a more prepared Green.
 
When the Golden State Warriors were invulnerable, James Harden going 0-for-11 from three and Chris Paul coming up lame meant an Oakland rout. And when they were invulnerable, Kevin Durant did not look like he was straining so hard to be the team’s only qualified savior. 
 
When the Golden State Warriors were invulnerable, they closed out Game 5s rather than lose them, as they did to the Houston Rockets Thursday night, 98-94.
 
And when the Golden State Warriors were invulnerable, they didn’t have to return home in a desperate state, suspecting at least somewhere in their cerebra that they may actually be facing a better team. A team that has turned back the clock a decade and made it the Warriors’ kryptonite.
 
In a taut, dysrhythmic, glass-chewing battle between the two best teams in basketball, the suspicion must finally be dawning on the nation that the Warriors are the second team – or at the very least are playing the role all too well. The “we’ll be all right” mantra that they have used through all their relative difficulties this year has finally given way to a frantic, unsettled, skittish demeanor that makes every offensive possession less a fait accompli and more a shrieking white-knuckler where disappointment looms with every errant pass, isolation shot or desperate appeal for a foul call that never comes.
 
The Warriors, in short, look right now like the team that is one card light rather than flush. They look every bit as locked up as they did after Game 4 of the 2016 Western Conference Final, when they lost successive games to Oklahoma City by 28 and then 24 points.
 
They look, in a weird way, like the team of the future losing to the team of the past. 
 
Part of that may be Andre Iguodala’s absence for the second consecutive game, because the Warriors have inadequately replaced his minutes rather than his defensive presence. I mean, it’s a nice crutch if you want to use it – it just isn’t the reason the Warriors are down 3-2.
 
The reason is Houston, the team whose defense has been mocked almost reflexively for years but which has gummed up what the Warriors want to do and reduced them to being the second-best isolation-based team on the floor.
 
Once again, Houston went only seven deep, but the Warriors, who tried to use more of their bench, still ended up needing at least 40 minutes from each of the remaining 80 percent of the Hamptons 5.
 
Only now the argument about them being tired makes more sense because the Rockets are making those minutes a brutal possession-by-possession grind, reducing the pace to a muddy slog and making the Warriors play a game they have been trying to render obsolete since the start of the Steve Kerr era.
 
But it isn’t obsolete. All styles are valid when employed by the right players, and the Rockets have mastered theirs while the Warriors are struggling to find theirs.
 
All this said, the Warriors are still a very live underdog. Iguodala is expected back for Saturday’s sixth game, while Chris Paul looks like he has found a new injury (a hamstring), and the game itself is in Oakland, which used to be more proof of the Warriors’ invulnerability.
 
It is no longer.
 
So here’s how the Warriors escape the fate that seems theirs – by relocating the rhythm in their offense that Houston slowly but surely has been squeezing from them, by maintaining their defensive stubbornness, and by taking back the battle for pace and movement that Houston has been demonstrably winning. They have to utilize their obvious anger in ways that work against the Rockets rather than themselves, because they are used to playing with joy rather than anger, more used to frustrating others than overcoming their own.
 
The Warriors are finally underdogs in more than just the Vegas line. They have to wrest control of the game’s flow from a team that has taken the initiative by employing the one thing all the brainboxes in the sport have sworn is the basketball of ten years ago.
 
Specifically, the basketball of ten years ago.
 

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Rockets 95, Warriors 92
Game 5 Rockets 98, Warriors 94
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm