Warriors can't sink any further than blowout loss to wretched Hawks

Warriors can't sink any further than blowout loss to wretched Hawks

Considering the depths to which they plunged Monday night, politely referred to as the lower bottom, the Warriors can only go up.

Coming 25 points short against a 4-16 team reeling from a 10-game losing streak is Hall of Shame stuff, and the once-proud Warriors (4-18) earned every shred of ignominy that comes with such a performance that concluded in a 104-79 loss to the Hawks (5-16) in Atlanta.

There was an excess of sloppiness, selfishness and competitive arrhythmia that sent the Warriors down by 11 in the second quarter, by 23 in the third and by as much as 28 in the fourth. They generally played less as a team than as a bunch of dudes introduced a few minutes before tipoff after being told NBA scouts would be in the stands, pens and paper at the ready.

“We were playing for ourselves out there, instead of playing for each other,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters at State Farm Arena.

“We were trying to dribble through traffic instead of moving the ball. Everybody was trying to make a play, instead of letting the next guy make the play and we just got frustrated. We didn’t have any kind of rhythm or flow to the game. Then, I thought Atlanta really punished us for our mistakes and they played well.”

The Warriors committed a season-high 25 turnovers, including 15 in the second and third quarters, during which they were outscored 56-30.

The Warriors shot 39.8 percent as a team, only 33.3 percent aside from Eric Paschall’s 9-of-11 accuracy. The rookie forward posted team highs in points (24) and assists (six), and also snagged nine rebounds, tying Omari Spellman for the game-high.

“I feel like sometimes when we get on runs, we can be a little selfish,” Paschall said. “But I think it’s something to learn from.”

There may be no better illustration of the futility than realizing Paschall had one more bucket than starting guards Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III, who combined to jack up 28 shots and made only eight. It’s as if there was no recognition of Paschall’s effectiveness, much less a concerted attempt to feed the one teammate displaying offensive rhythm and flow.

Rather, it was extended spasms of pickup ball, with an “every man for himself” dynamic.

Backup big man Marquese Chriss committed six turnovers in 20 minutes. Backup point guard Ky Bowman, a two-way signee whose ball security has been a pleasant surprise, was tagged with a career-high five giveaways.

And it’s not as if those turnovers were offset by dazzling passing that led the easy buckets. Indeed, it was the opposite. The Warriors tied their season-low with 17 dimes.

NBA teams generally aim for a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Warriors were 2-to-3.

“I feel kind of frustrated,” Paschall said. “But we are a young team, so we just have to learn from it. And we just have to keep playing together every night. We are all competitors. We play this game to win.”

The Warriors had a solid game plan to contain Hawks star Trae Young, intermittently blitzing the point guard to force the ball out of his hands. They had a measure of success with that.

Furthermore, the effort levels were for the most part acceptable. They won the rebounding battle (46-38) and put up more second-chance shots.

But they were 3-of-17 from deep, and 1-of-15 from Warriors not named Paschall.

The result is the Warriors taking a firm grip on the worst record in the NBA. At 4-18, they’re a half-game below the Knicks (4-17), one-and-a-half games behind the Hawks and a full three games behind the Pelicans in the Western Conference.

This is the Warriors’ worst start since 1987, when they started 4-21 and finished 20-62. That team didn’t win its fifth game until January.

“It’s not easy for anybody to lose, especially given that our team has fought really hard through the first quarter of the season and had some really difficult, close losses,” Kerr said. “It wears on you, and you want those efforts to be rewarded. You have to keep the faith, and you just have to keep fighting, and that’s my job to keep their spirits up, and turn it around.”

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That task can’t be easy. It has to get better, though, maybe as soon as Wednesday at Charlotte.

For no matter how badly the Warriors lose, or to whom, they can’t sink any further than they did Monday.

Why Steve Kerr isn't doing video conference calls with Warriors players

Why Steve Kerr isn't doing video conference calls with Warriors players

As people all over the world continue to practice social distancing because of the coronavirus pandemic, video conferencing has soared.

It's a great way to see people's faces and stay connected.

But that doesn't mean everybody is taking part.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr told the following story Thursday night during a radio appearance on KNBR 680:

"I got a text yesterday from (Sacramento Kings coach) Luke Walton. He said, 'Have you had any Zoom conference calls with your team?' And I said, 'No. Have you?' He goes, 'No. I'm hearing that other teams are doing that and I was feeling bad that we weren't.' And I said, 'You know what -- it's fake. It's fake hustle (laugther).'

"Picture this -- you're a player and this kind of suspension to a season is happening, do you really want to get on a Zoom conference call with your coach? No! No! It's the last thing you want. It's fake hustle. We're not doing any of that stuff."

Kerr isn't demanding daily 10:00 p.m. meetings where every Warriors player discusses what they did that day?!

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[RELATED: Kerr reminiscing about Warriors' dynastic run amid stoppage]

It sounds like the eight-time NBA champion has more important things to do:

In all seriousness though -- great response, coach. Keep enjoying the family time and watching film on some of the top 2020 NBA Draft prospects.

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Steve Kerr reminiscing about Warriors' dynastic run amid coronavirus halt

Steve Kerr reminiscing about Warriors' dynastic run amid coronavirus halt

It was Steph Curry on the fast break throwing a blind, over-the-shoulder pass to Kevin Durant for the easy dunk.

It was Andre Iguodala stripping Damian Lillard or LeBron James and igniting transition offense.

It was Klay Thompson running through a maze of screens before getting the perfect pass from Shaun Livingston and firing one through the net.

We’re 24 days into this cycle of sports nostalgia -- it’s all we have in the absence of live events -- and rarely does a day pass without images of recent Warriors supremacy flashing across TV/computer screens. Fans are allowing themselves to reminisce. So, too, is the coach.

“That was pretty special era, with special teams,” Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area this week. “The one thing that has always stood out to me, whether I was a part of a special team as a player or coach, or a fan of a special team, is that It’s not just wins and losses. It’s the style, and the connection with fans.”

The Warriors entered 2019-20 coming off the most impressive five-year run in NBA history, compiling a 322-88 record, for a .785 winning percentage. The three championships and five consecutive trips to The Finals are well-chronicled.

But the level of mastery on display is, in retrospect, nothing less than startling.

“There’s been this incredible momentum and connection with our fans over the last five or six years, and it’s tough to match that,” Kerr said. “Some of that is due to the incredibly high level of play. People come ... that’s what they want to see. Whether it’s like seeing a rock band at the height of their powers or an artist, it’s the same concept. They just want to see something beautiful and experience something beautiful. That’s the connection.”

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It was Draymond Green squaring up to defend James Harden and stripping him for the steal.

It was Durant, staring down LeBron and then walking into a top-of-the-key 3-point kill shot.

It was Andrew Bogut slyly slipping an exquisitely timed pass to Curry and diving toward the rim.

“I always thought Bogut was one of the most underappreciated parts of our team,” Kerr recalls. “Those first two years, his passing, his dribble-handoff game, his defense, his working with Draymond on that end ... Bogut was incredible. Just an incredible basketball player, and he complemented that group perfectly.

“And then the team kind of morphs, different guys coming and going, and it’s still really about Steph and Klay and Draymond and Andre. But you see these key figures come in. Like David West, playing 15 minutes a night and picking people apart. It was beautiful to watch.”

The Warriors posted successive seasons with 39-2 records at Oracle Arena. Regular-season records piled up: 73 wins, 54 straight home victories, 34 road wins and 24-0 to open a season.

The shooting was superb, the ball movement wizardly, the defense ravenous. Above all, there was a visible synergy that often resulted in sequences that appeared choreographed.

It was Kevon Looney switching out on DeMar DeRozan and giving up nothing. It was JaVale McGee catching lobs, maintaining a presence in the paint and resuscitating his career. It was Zaza Pachulia setting a perfect screen or dropping a bounce pass backward between his legs.

It was Curry single-handedly destroying a defense, Green single-handedly stifling an offense.

“Even within that five-year run, the core was the same, but there were different guys who provided different things, different dynamics to our team,” Kerr says. “That was the apex. I don’t know that we ever reached a higher level as a group than we reached 2016, when we won 73, but the ’17 team was the best because of Kevin. Just the unstoppable nature of having the ability to always go to him anytime we needed to. That team was just devastating.”

Perhaps no accomplishment was more impressive than opening the 2017 postseason with 15 consecutive wins and becoming the first team to hang a 16-1 record on its challengers. They won closeout games by an average of 18.5 points.

One game, however, sends Kerr practically into a dreamlike state.

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After coaching Games 1 and 2 of the first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers, Kerr stepped away to cope with unrelenting physical discomfort. Lead assistant Mike Brown took over, and the Warriors posted a tight (119-113) win in Game 3. Win Game 4 and the sweep is completed.

“Our first quarter was almost unfair,” Kerr recalls. “I think we scored 40 points.”

Make it 45. The Warriors rolled to leads of 14-0, 22-3 and 35-9 before closing the quarter with a 45-22 lead and eventually coasting to a 128-103 rout.

“It’s like we had everything going,” Kerr says. “JaVale was getting dunks because (the Blazers) were so worried about all the shooting on the perimeter. We defended like crazy. That game just felt unfair.”

Indeed, it did, as did many others over a five-year span that might be better appreciated in hindsight and will be exceedingly difficult to equal, much less surpass.