Visible infighting leaves Warriors unrecognizable in loss to Kings

Visible infighting leaves Warriors unrecognizable in loss to Kings

SACRAMENTO -- In the sober aftermath of the 109-106 overtime loss to the Kings late Saturday night, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he didn’t recognize his team, not only because an ejection had cost him his customary sideline view.

These Warriors were, for so many reasons, unrecognizable.

Stephen Curry, usually a wizard in the paint, missed an open layup that would have put the Warriors ahead in the final seconds of OT. They were out-assisted and outshot by, of all teams, Sacramento. They were uncharacteristically selfish and disengaged, and it showed at both ends of the court.

But Kerr, who has spent more than 30 years around elite athletes in intense competition, most assuredly sensed there was something deeper going on. There were numerous emotional outbursts, too many of them expressions of irritation.

The Warriors weren’t happy with themselves and, moreover, they on several occasions were visibly dissatisfied with each other.

“Every time we have a poor offensive game, where the ball sticks, it’s inevitable that we’re poor defensively,” Kerr said, attempting to explain a forgettable night. “We give up transition stuff. Bad shots lead to vulnerability with your transition defense.

“And then just the vibe. Who we are . . . we’re a joyful team that moves the ball and plays with a lot of passion and fun. And there wasn’t a whole lot of that tonight.”

Exhibit A: Draymond Green’s frustration bubbled over late in the third quarter when he shouted and gestured toward Kevin Durant, who engaged the squabble. The two botched a possession late in the shot clock.

Exhibit B: Andre Iguodala reacted to a second-half timeout by stalking past his teammates and directly to the last seat on the bench, where he sat alone as the coaches addressed the team. There was a defensive breakdown involving Iguodala and James Michael McAdoo.

Exhibit C: Green and Iguodala had at least one brief quarrel, apparently related to another defensive breakdown.

And it’s fairly presumed that a couple Warriors, based on body language, were annoyed with Klay Thompson launching 25 shots -- 15 more than Durant and five more than Curry, who was having a vastly more proficient game.

These snapshots and moments of exasperation may have zero impact on the team’s delicate chemistry. The Warriors have bickered before and, as usually is the case among mature adults, they get beyond it without lasting animosity.

But such displays are unlike them in that they were too public to escape notice.

The group that actively pursues the joys within the game conveyed no such thing.

“Regardless of how much fun you want to have,” Green said afterward, “it just doesn’t happen that way for 82 nights.”

The Warriors have spent recent years carefully growing a harmonious atmosphere in the locker room that translates to the court. It’s a family-oriented feel that Curry, in particular, devotes tremendous energy toward maintaining.

Which is why it was somewhat surprising that the postgame responses were all over the place, especially to questions about Durant’s oddly passive evening -- 10 shots in 42 minutes.

Green shrugged, saying the Warriors “definitely got to have him taking more shots.”

Kerr suggested Durant, the only Warrior to play every game, “was out of gas.”

Durant said he wasn’t tired and that he would be “more aggressive next time.” He continued picking apart of his game and found a lot to criticize.

Aside from Curry, the Warriors did very little well against a team they usually torch. They shot 41.4 percent, saving the worst for last, as the percentage dropped to 28.6 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Yet it was Curry who couldn’t drop in a clutch layup.

“It’s one game,” he said. “But it’s tough with all the emotions, the back-and-forth and the opportunity to win it down the stretch.

“Tough way to end the game, with a shot at point-blank range (with a chance) to erase all the mishaps earlier.”

The Warriors are good enough, and tight enough, that the scenes of the night may be chalked up to bickering within the brotherhood. They could return to normal very soon, perhaps Wednesday night against Chicago.

“We weren’t ourselves,” Green said. “But if we’re going to have a hiccup like that every 10 or 12 games, I’ll take it.”


Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr explain why KD took six shots vs. Pistons


Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr explain why KD took six shots vs. Pistons

Kevin Durant is a four-time NBA scoring champion. He's averaging 18.6 shots per game this season, and 18.8 for his career.

So, seeing a box score where he attempted six shots in 35 minutes is strange.

After the Warriors beat the Pistons 121-114 on Sunday night in Oakland, Durant and head coach Steve Kerr addressed his low shot total.

"Kevin is such a great, talented player that he can just do whatever he wants on the floor," Kerr told the media at Oracle. "So, he decided to be a distibutor tonight. Obviously, 11 assists, I thought his defense was great. He's just one of those guys that's so talented that whatever he chooses to do that night, that's what he does."

Durant took a big-picture outlook on his stat line.

"I'm a well-rounded player and I can still affect the game without taking a bunch of shots," Durant told the media. "I thought I passed the ball well, I thought I played a great floor game. I know you're used to putting me in a box as a player, but I've grown."

In the Warriors' loss to the Mavericks on Saturday, Durant took 25 shots. Steph Curry sat out, putting the onus on Durant to carry the offense. But he wasn't happy with how he played against Dallas, and didn't want to make the same mistakes against Detroit.

"I didn't want to force shots tonight, and some of the shots I would have took tonight would have been forced, and last night I forced a bunch," Durant said.

[RELATED: Kerr on Curry's rest plan]

Durant finished with 14 points, 11 assists and five rebounds.

Warriors playing long game when it comes to resting Steph Curry

Warriors playing long game when it comes to resting Steph Curry

OAKLAND -- The Warriors can be sensitive about the subject of Steph Curry’s workload. He wants to play every game while striving to be a great husband and father and also making broad use of his massive social platform.

The Warriors understand all of this, and they do not want to obstruct any of it.

Yet workload management is one of the reasons Rick Celebrini was hired last summer to serve as the team’s director of Sports Medicine and Performance. Aided by high-tech fitness tools, he monitors every player for fatigue levels and beyond.

As much as the Warriors hope to nab the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, if not the NBA, everything goes through Celebrini. He is the gatekeeper of player availability. He decided that DeMarcus Cousins will not play in back-to-back games this season, that Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston will remain on routine body-maintenance programs and that Curry should miss the occasional game – such as Saturday against the Mavericks.

Curry seemed to benefit from the rest.

He scored 11 points in the first quarter Sunday and finished with team-high 26 in a 121-114 win over the Detroit Pistons.

With Curry, assuming he’s not injured, it’s a fine line. With the other veterans, the decisions are much more defined. Cousins is coming off a major injury, Iguodala and Livingston are mid-30s veterans requiring rest at regular intervals.

“Each player, we look at individually,” coach Steve Kerr said Sunday. “With DeMarcus, we made the decision based on Rick’s assessment that he should just not play back-to-backs this season. So, he’s not going to.

“Andre and Shaun both, periodically we’ve been giving rest to for the last several years based on the age and wear and tear.

“And then, every once in a while, it will come up that Rick will recommend we give somebody a rest. Last night it was Steph.”

[RELATED: What we learned from Warriors' win over Pistons]

Sitting Curry was precautionary, according to Kerr. His work schedule and his numerous off-the-court endeavors leave him open to overload.

“He’s been going a couple months straight and has looked a little tired the last couple weeks,” Kerr said. “It made perfect sense. We will be better for it in the long run.”

It definitely looked that way on Sunday.