Warriors

Warriors' chemistry tearing at seams, as proven by stunning Game 2 loss

Warriors' chemistry tearing at seams, as proven by stunning Game 2 loss

OAKLAND -- The dynasty didn’t fall Monday night. There were signs of fracture, indicators that all is not well with the best basketball team on earth, but one loss, no matter how devastating, doesn’t topple walls of stone.

There is no question, though, that this loss tore at seams of the Warriors’ fabled chemistry and unity.

They blew a 31-point lead. Gave away a playoff game. At home. To a Clippers team built more on pluck than power.

Though the Warriors lost DeMarcus Cousins in the opening minutes, likely for good and surely a pity for him, his departure is not what invited the catastrophe that was a 135-131 loss to the Clippers in Game 2 of their first-round series.

Asked what went wrong in the worst second half of coach Steve Kerr’s five-year tenure, Stephen Curry didn’t flinch:

“Mainly just our aggressiveness, definitely, our togetherness definitely.”

They fell apart in ways few NBA teams ever do in a playoff game. They begged for defeat, and the Clippers were happy to oblige.

The reigning champs lost, first and foremost, because they continued to commit the sins they’ve evaluated, addressed, discussed, reviewed and vowed to avoid. They lost by giving the Clippers 34 points off turnovers -- more free buckets than any team scored against the Warriors in the 82-game regular season.

They lost by giving up 85 points in the second half, more than they allowed in the second half of any regular-season game.

[RELATED: Dubs' blown lead in Game 2 was biggest in playoff history]

They lost with Kevin Durant, one of the most gifted scorers to play the game, attempting just eight shots, committing nine turnovers and fouling out in the fourth quarter.

“He had a tough night,” Kerr said with what appeared to be steam coming from both ears.

They lost with 6-of-19 shooting in the same fourth quarter that LA’s star reserves -- Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell -- shot 10 of 14.

They lost with Curry going to the bench after committing his third and fourth fouls less than four minutes into the second half and never regaining rhythm, shooting 2 of 9 in the fourth quarter.

For the better part of three quarters, the Warriors were fortunate to be playing the Clippers, who looked as overmatched as the rosters suggest they should be. The Warriors went up 94-63 on a 3-point play by Durant with 7:31 left in the third.

Late in the third quarter and throughout the fourth, the Clippers were delighted to be playing the Warriors.

“We have those big deficits like that, I don’t really think we can come back and win the game,” said Williams, who scored 29 of his 36 points in 19 second-half minutes. “We just play as hard as we can to give ourselves an opportunity not to get embarrassed.”

The proud champion Warriors, on a quest to “three-peat,” looked, well, shook. The same team, in name, that gave LA five points on six turnovers in the first half gave up 29 on 16 over the final 24 minutes.

Kerr was simmering as hot as he has at any time this season, including the night he and Jordan Bell openly squabbled on the sideline. Klay Thompson seemed stunned but defiant. Durant left the locker room without speaking, and Draymond Green was so disgusted with the events of the evening that he, too, sprinted out in record time, without a word.

“For six-and-a-half quarters, we played amazing,” Curry said, referring to the 121-104 in Game 1 on Saturday. “Had a 31-point lead. The wheels fell off. I know we can get it back.”

Maybe they can.

[RELATED: Where Warriors centers go from here post-Cousins injury]

But no longer can anyone be certain about the Warriors. Blown leads in the regular season were blamed on tedium, implying that things would change when the real season started.

The real season is underway, and the Warriors lasted less than seven quarters before looking like a team far worse than the sum of its parts. Getting it back is possible, but after a loss of this magnitude, how can anyone be sure?

Rockets GM Daryl Morey agrees facing Warriors in semis could be better

Rockets GM Daryl Morey agrees facing Warriors in semis could be better

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Wednesday night at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

On the last day of the NBA's regular season, the following two things happened:
1) The Blazers -- who rested their top guys and only played six players -- erased a 28-point deficit and beat the Kings
2) The Nuggets -- who were down at home by 11 points with a little over three minutes left -- stormed back and beat the Wolves

As a result, Denver finished with the No. 2 seed and Portland with the No. 3 seed.

The main takeaway? The Rockets entered the playoffs at No. 4 seed, which meant a potential showdown with the Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals. It became impossible for there to be a rematch between Golden State and Houston in the West Finals.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey was recently a guest on The Bill Simmons Podcast and he was asked if potentially facing the Warriors one round earlier could actually be beneficial.

"It's very hard to know. We can't control it. To be frank, we don't spend a lot of time on it but we have talked about it internally," Morey said. "It could work in our favor but it's very hard to know.

"As much as we could get injured, so could they. All I know is that we pretty much knew we were gonna have to beat them, so does the order really matter? Probably not. It would have been nice to get homecourt like last year.

"I think that could be a big factor -- last year at Oracle, their fans are great -- I do think not having homecourt is a factor. I do think we're a better team going into the series. Maybe our odds are similar to last year.

"We do feel very strongly we have a real shot at it. But obviously, they're the champs three of the last four years for a reason."

Simmons followed up by saying: "I was looking at it more like from a health standpoint. The longer the playoffs go, and especially, you know Chris (Paul) has battled nagging injuries his entire career -- you just know that if you can get through this Utah series..."

"We are slightly older than them, so yeah it could work in our favor, yeah," Morey said.

[RELATEDBogut gives interesting response to Embiid's 3-1 Dubs joke]

The health variable is a very fair point. The Rockets currently are up three-games-to-none on the Jazz in their first-round series. And if they complete the sweep in Utah on Monday night, they will get a solid chunk of time to rest before a potential series against the Dubs starts this weekend (assuming the Warriors beat the Clippers in Game 5 on Wednesday).

The rematch seems inevitable at this point and the basketball world deserves both teams to be fully healthy.

Make it happen, Basketball Gods.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

Why Mike Brown feels like he played role in Klay Thompson's huge game

Why Mike Brown feels like he played role in Klay Thompson's huge game

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Wednesday night at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Klay Thompson finally had a big game on Sunday.

After scoring just 12, 17 and 12 points in the first three games against the Clippers, the five-time All-Star registered 32 points in Game 4.

Did he do anything different on Friday or Saturday in Los Angeles that contributed to his breakout performance?

“I did a couple things ... I told Jonas (Jerebko) yesterday when we went to the beach and played some volleyball, I'm like, 'Yo I’m just gonna go jump in the ocean. I know that will reset my mind.’ And it worked," Klay told reporters after the Warriors' 113-105 win. "I don't know if I'm gonna jump (in) up north, because it's freezing.

"But it's something I'll definitely contemplate if I don't shoot the ball the rest of the year."

On Monday morning, Golden State assistant coach Mike Brown explained how he could have been there with Klay and Jerebko but ultimately declined the invitation.

“I actually took an Uber after that practice back to the hotel with Klay and Jonas and they were both going to the beach together,” Brown said on 95.7 The Game. “They asked me if I wanted to go and at first I said, ‘Yes.’

“But then I realized my swell figure -- it wouldn’t quite look as nice as theirs. So, I was like, ‘You know what? How about y’all go to the beach by yourselves and I'll go another time with y’all, after I get in that gym a little bit.'

"I didn't go with them, but I feel like I'm part of this 32-point performance because Klay did say he needed some tunes while he was at the beach. And so I said, 'OK, Klay. Here, you can use my Beats Pill.' So I let him use my Beats Pill.

"He tried to keep it but I confronted him when we got off the plane last night and he knew what to do as a young man (against) my grown man strength."

[RELATEDBogut gives interesting response to Embiid's 3-1 Dubs joke]

There are so many amazing components to this tale that it's hard to pick a favorite.

The weather is going to be beautiful in the Bay Area the next couple of days, so hopefully we learn about another legendary Klay story after Game 5 on Wednesday night.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram