Warriors 'competed like crazy' in loss to Celtics despite more injuries

Warriors 'competed like crazy' in loss to Celtics despite more injuries

SAN FRANCISCO -- Midway through the third quarter of Friday's 105-100 loss to the Celtics, Warriors forward Marquese Chriss sat alone on Golden State's bench as the team's only healthy body in a uniform. 

Kevon Looney and Stephen Curry, two of Golden State's five inactive players to start the evening, sat a few seats to Chriss' right. Four seats to Chriss' left, Warriors assistants looked on in bewilderment at an increasingly lost season in Golden State.

Minutes before the visual, guard D'Angelo Russell exited the game nursing a sprained right thumb, putting his immediate availability in question. Despite the team's latest injury setback, Golden State scrapped and clawed to the brink of its third win, bringing to light the season's biggest goal: Chase consistency with a depleted roster. 

"I'm really proud of the effort," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "I thought the guys competed like crazy out there."

Remnants of the Warriors mettle was apparent from tip-off Friday evening. Through the first 12 minutes, Golden State -- the league's worst defense -- held Boston to just 30 percent from the field, including 2-of-8 from 3-point range. 

"We played our best defensive night of the season," Kerr said. "It's the first night, really all year, where I felt like we know what we're doing defensively. We just looked organized, we looked tied together."

The performance was in contrast to the team's output during the season. Entering Friday, the Warriors had allowed an average of more than 120 points per game, ranking last in defensive rating. In the third quarter of Wednesday's loss to the Lakers, LeBron James received an inbounds pass from guard Alex Caruso, drove baseline as Caruso screened both Russell and Glenn Robinson, leading to an easy pass to Lakers big man Dwight Howard for a wide-open dunk.

Golden State's lapses come as the roster is in peril. On the eve of training camp, Warriors general manager Bob Myers announced Willie Cauley-Stein would miss most of October with a foot strain. Two days later, rookie Alen Smailagic rolled his ankle and Looney strained his hamstring in the same controlled scrimmage. Last month, Curry broke his hand, sidelining the guard until at least February. Two nights later, forward Draymond Green tore a ligament in his left index finger. On Monday, two-way guard Damion Lee fractured his hand, further crippling the roster. 

Despite the roster ills, examples of passion were displayed against the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics. Midway through the third quarter, two-way guard Ky Bowman intercepted a pass, ran crosscourt and dunked over forward Grant Williams, cutting Boston's lead to 3. Two minutes later, forward Alec Burk stripped Celtics guard Brandon Wanamaker, setting up a fastbreak layup to give Golden State a brief 82-80 lead.

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By the end of the night, the team accumulated one of its best performances of the season -- at a price. Russell's latest injury will require an MRI on Saturday, while forward Eric Paschall sported an ice wrap around his right hand, an injury the rookie vowed would not keep him out long. Nonetheless, Golden State's nameless roster lived up to its mantra Friday. 

"You gotta go out there and just compete at the highest level," Paschall said. "No matter if we have five guys, just go out there and compete. It's just the game of basketball. Of course, the injuries hurt us but at the same time, you still have to play the game."

Warriors follow Draymond Green's lead in willing team to win vs. Bulls

Warriors follow Draymond Green's lead in willing team to win vs. Bulls

Throughout his career, Draymond Green simultaneously has been Golden State's emotional leader and one of its best players. 

On teams featuring Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, Green consistently was the team's emotional heartbeat, occasionally willing his squads to unforeseen victories in standout performances that didn't necessarily reflect on the stat sheet. 

The latest example of Green's impact came in the last 12 minutes of Friday's 100-98 win over the Bulls, when he passed, defended and guided the Warriors to their fifth win of the season. 

A glimpse of Green's impact came four seconds before the final frame began when Golden State coach Steve Kerr substituted Green for Jordan Poole. On the next play, Green switched onto Bulls guard Coby White, forcing an off-balance miss. Four minutes into the fourth quarter -- with Golden State down 89-84 -- he successfully contested a Tomas Satoransky jump shot, leading to a fastbreak opportunity. Four minutes later, Green received a pass from guard D'Angelo Russell, drove the lane and found center Willie Cauley Stein for a dunk. With a minute left and the game tied at 98, he found Glenn Robinson III for another lob dunk to help seal the victory. 

Green -- who finished with nine points, five rebounds and four steals -- was responsible for 10 of the team's 23 fourth-quarter points, helping the Warriors outscore Chicago by eight points in the final frame. 

"Our defensive pressure picked up," Green explained after the win. "I think down the stretch in games, you have to do that. There have been games this year where teams have put pressure on us and we didn't respond well. I think tonight we were the aggressors and it worked out in our favor."

"He made great plays down the stretch," Robinson said of Green. "He got down on the floor for loose balls. He got us going, his talk, his communication. You always want a player like that the floor, directing things."

Green's performance came at a particular time of peril for Golden State. With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson out of the lineup, the Warriors are one of the league's worst teams. In their last four games entering Friday night, they had been outscored by 61 points, including a 106-91 blowout loss to Charlotte on Wednesday. 

[RELATED: Sources: Steph has surgery to remove pins from hand]

Worse, Green's play has followed suit. Over his previous nine appearances, he had shot just 38.5 percent from the field while dealing with a myriad of injuries. On Friday, both he and his team found their stride. 

"We played the whole game hard," Warriors forward Eric Paschall said. "I felt like as a team, that's a big step for us after the last two games. We felt like we didn't compete at a high level. I felt like it was real good for us just in terms of coming out with a win."

Golden State's season has been new territory for Green. Since entering the NBA, he has never missed the playoffs, but with the Warriors' star-studded cast out for an extended time, that streak is expected to end. That makes Friday's act of leadership all the more important going forward. 

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in inspiring 100-98 win over Bulls

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in inspiring 100-98 win over Bulls


Too bad the Warriors can't play the Bulls every night. 

In their latest outing, the Warriors beat Chicago 100-98, sweeping the season series against Chicago while avoiding a winless five-game road trip. 

After Warriors coach Steve Kerr lamented his team's uninspired play, Golden State put together its best effort in nearly a week. 

The Warriors aren't going to beat most teams on talent like recent years. In order to have a chance on a nightly basis, they'll have to play as hard as they did Friday night at United Center. 

Here are the takeaways:

All heart

In the days leading up Chicago, Kerr was critical of his team's hustle and spirit. Against the Bulls, the Warriors got the hint, highlighted by a 16-5 run to start the second quarter. Golden State shot 57 percent from the field in the frame, helping the team get within one point at halftime. 

Similar efforts were littered throughout the game. When the Bulls went up seven, the Warriors went on a 14-5 run to take a brief lead. Eric Paschall continued his stellar rookie season, scoring 13 points, adding three rebounds and two assists. 

As they grow, the Warriors will continue to learn lessons during their transition. The one constant will have to be the effort they showed Friday. 

Too many miscues

Golden State's response to Kerr's demand would've been smoother with better control of the basketball. The Warriors committed 11 of their game-high 19 turnovers in the first half. 

Entering Friday, Chicago was among the stingiest teams in the league, forcing 18 turnovers per game.

Turnovers are a function of undisciplined play. The Warriors' youth was on display, and they were fortunate to get the win.

[RELATED: Ask Kerith: Why Warriors' focus is on player development]

Robinson drilling III's

In a game the Warriors needed an extra scoring punch, they got it from Robinson, who scored 20 points, including two 3-pointers. After struggling at the beginning of the season, Robinson has come alive in recent games. 

Over his last eight outings, he's averaging 13.6 points while shooting 41.4 percent from 3-point range. 

If Robinson can keep this up, he will force his way into Golden State's future plans.