Warriors' defense again missing in action in blowout loss to Lakers


Warriors' defense again missing in action in blowout loss to Lakers

OAKLAND -- Blame cut a swath through the Warriors locker room Christmas night, player after player pointing finger after finger at himself after they were righteously pulverized by the Lakers.

“I kind of (screwed up) our offense and it kind of messed the flow of the game up, so I’ve just got to be better,” Draymond Green said, after fouling out in the fourth quarter of the 127-101 loss at Oracle Arena.

“I didn’t do anything to help, either,” Stephen Curry said.

That’s what a great team does when it is dazed but not confused. It knows to look inward because that’s where the answers are.

The answer, in this instance, begins with defense.

The Warriors have no chance of finding the best of themselves unless they get back to suffocating opponents at the level that has earned them four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, with three rings to show for it.

It has been missing all too often this season and, aside from a three-minute stretch of the third quarter when the Warriors trimmed a 14-point deficit to two, it was nowhere to be found against the Lakers, who kept it together even after losing LeBron James to a groin injury midway through the third quarter.

[RELATED: LeBron strains groin, but he doesn't sound too concerned]

“They kept attacking,” said Andre Iguodala, who scored a team-high 23 points. “We never really took them out of a rhythm. We never really disrupted their flow. When Bron went out, (Rajon) Rondo kind of took over and took charge and got everybody in position.

“(Center Ivaca) Zubac was great. We never really got him off his position on the block. He missed maybe one or two shots tonight.”

That’s right, it was Rondo, a non-shooter, and Zubac, a 7-foot-1 backup center, who sliced through the Warriors defense.

This was the second straight game in which the Warriors gave up 127 points, both times allowing their opponent to shoot well above 50 percent. The Clippers on Sunday shot 53.8 percent, including a record 78.3 percent from deep. The Lakers on Tuesday shot 55.3 percent, including 39.4 percent beyond the arc.

“I’m trying to think of something really sarcastic and witty to say,” coach Steve Kerr said. “But nothing comes to mind right now.

“They shot 55 percent and scored 127 points on our home floor, so it speaks for itself.”

This is the first time in 363 regular season games under Kerr that opponents hung more than 125 points on the Warriors in back-to-back games.

Worse, this is the fourth time this season that the Warriors have been beaten at Oracle -- the place to which they dedicated this season -- by at least 20 points. The Bucks scored 134 and won by 23 on Nov. 8, the Thunder scored 123 and won by 28 on Nov. 21 and the Raptors rolled up 113 and won by 20 on Dec. 12.

“We haven’t had that in a while, over the last four or five years, really,” Curry said. “The three games we lost at home to Toronto, Milwaukee and tonight where we get blown out, it’s just a tough pill to swallow.

“Just getting outplayed, that’s really it. If we can just develop some consistency, knowing teams are coming after us and playing us a certain way, that’s different than it’s been the last four years. We’ve got to make adjustments, and it starts with us as players playing better.”

The Warriors believe opponents have figured out the best way to defend them, which is to devote the vast majority of defensive effort trying to contain Klay Thompson, Curry and Durant. And it’s true. Teams watched what the Rockets did in the Western Conference Finals last May and are trying to copy that.

But the Warriors have done a remarkable job making themselves easier to defend. When they were laying waste to the NBA, it was less through halfcourt sets than through a defense that forced turnovers and led to a devastating transition game.

There was no way for opponents to defend what the Warriors were doing on defense. The Warriors gave up more than 120 points just twice in Kerr’s first season, four times in his second season, six times in his third and 13 times last season.

The number of such games this season hit 11 on Tuesday and the season is still six games away from the halfway point.

The Warriors know what the problem is. They walked out of Oracle looking inward, wondering if they still have the capacity to do what made them great.

Based on the first 35 games of this season, they don’t know the answer. Maybe now, after being subjected to sheer competitive humiliation before millions of witnesses around the globe, they will look even deeper.

How Warriors plan to keep Steph Curry healthy despite heavy workload

How Warriors plan to keep Steph Curry healthy despite heavy workload

Steph Curry’s health has long been a topic of conversation around the Warriors organization.

Curry was hampered by ankle issues over his first few seasons in the NBA, and has missed 50 games over the last two seasons, including six playoff games in 2018.

The Warriors know they must invest in keeping Curry on the floor after losing Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala, not to mention playing at least half the season without Klay Thompson. 

Rick Celebrini, the Warriors’ director of sports medicine and performance, was given a stacked budget to equip Chase Center with all the amenities the team needs to keep its aging stars on the floor.

From The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson:

They’ve got a hot tub, cold tub and underwater treadmill, which is already in heavy rotation as Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein use it. They’ve got a “mindfulness room” — a phone-free space where they can relax, meditate or even engage in brain-stimulating games on iPads or virtual reality training. A psychologist will even be on call if necessary. Yes, the Warriors now have their own Wendy Rhoades from “Billions.” They’ve also got a new AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, which uses air pressure to allow individuals to walk or run at a lower percentage of their body weight — so a 230-pound Draymond Green will feel like he’s 115 pounds while he’s running.

The new BioFreeze Performance Center will also be equipped with sleep pods, which are the most compelling development for the two-time MVP.

“The sleep pods,” Curry told Thompson. “That’s what I’m excited about.”

The point guard will need all the remedies he can get to avoid missing time on a nearly brand-new roster in Golden State. But no one knows Curry’s body better than himself.

“I’ve always been on top of it like that,” Curry said. “So it won’t be anything new. All I need is the sleep pod and some space for the NormaTec sleeves.”

The additional postseason minutes accrued over five straight runs to the NBA Finals have also played a major factor, as Steph has played in 93 postseason games over that span. While the addition of KD allowed Steph to take more of a breather during the 2017 and 2018 playoffs, Durant’s multiple injuries during last year’s postseason forced Curry to once again shoulder the majority of the burden, something he will now clearly need to do on a nightly basis.

[RELATED: Looney to miss preseason; Dubs hope he'll play in opener]

The good news for Curry is, the Warriors are sparing no expense in making sure he is ready to go as Golden State looks to keep the dynasty alive.

LeBron James mentions Steph Curry, clowns in cryptic Instagram post

LeBron James mentions Steph Curry, clowns in cryptic Instagram post

LeBron James did not play in the Warriors-Lakers preseason game Monday night in Los Angeles.

But about 80 minutes before the opening tip at Staples Center, the three-time NBA champion created headlines when he spoke to the media regarding the drama between the NBA, China and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

Then about five minutes before the game started, he sent out two tweets:

Before the fourth quarter began, LeBron and Warriors superstar Steph Curry exchanged pleasantries:

After Tuesday's practice, LeBron said he feels like his pregame comments were taken out of context:

About 45 minutes later, he took to Instagram:

Are "they" -- the clowns that is -- the media in general or anybody who disagreed with what he said? Both?

Why send that message to Curry? 

[RELATEDHow security man Walker shocked Steph with Warriors return]

Does LeBron realize he sounded foolish when he told reporters that he believes Morey "was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation, and if he was, then so be it," and immediately followed that with: "I have no idea, but that is just my belief."

Is he aware that the backlash is self-inflicted?

Are you sick of this whole story?

Let's move on.

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