Warriors

Warriors down to three originals after Kevin Durant's Game 5 leg injury

Warriors down to three originals after Kevin Durant's Game 5 leg injury

OAKLAND -- The Warriors are, not by design but out of dreaded necessity, down to the Three Originals.

Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

Their fate in this NBA postseason will be determined by the play of the three players on the roster with the longest tenures as Warriors.

This is not what the Warriors wanted after composing a starting lineup that was the envy of the NBA and perhaps leagues beyond.

It is, rather, exactly what they feared.

They sailed into the playoffs. And now they’re in the thick of it, facing perhaps the greatest challenge, and 40 percent of that imposing lineup is unavailable. First DeMarcus Cousins and now Kevin Durant.

Cousins, a one-season rental that fell into their laps last July, was lost after sustaining a torn left quadriceps muscle on April 16 in Game 2 of the first-round series against the Clippers.

Durant, the MVP of the last two NBA Finals, went down Wednesday night with a right calf strain sustained in the third quarter of a 104-99 victory over the Rockets in Game 5 of their second-round series.

The win gave the Warriors a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, but this was Pyrrhic in nature. While they hope to extend the postseason long enough to activate Cousins, who still is weeks away, there is no idea how long the Warriors will be without Durant, who will undergo an MRI exam Thursday.

“We'll see what happens the next 24, 48 hours on the injury front,” Curry said. “But we've had the next-man-up mentality for a long time now. Hopefully the situation will be no different. It will be challenging.”

Durant has been outstanding in these playoffs, entering Wednesday averaging 35.4 points per game on 51.8 percent shooting, including 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. He had put in a team-high 22 points before he limped into the locker room for good.

“We’ve got to have his back the way he's been honestly carrying us the entire playoff run,” Curry said. “That's what makes a great team: Whoever is out there is just making plays.”

They did, behind Curry, Green and Thompson.

“You lose your best player, it's deflating,” Thompson said. “We’ve got a lot of competitors on this team that play with great heart.”

The Warriors had a 68-65 lead when KD exited with 2:05 left in the third quarter and lost it 50 seconds later. The teams exchanged leads twice in the fourth quarter before the Warriors took it for good on a Thompson fadeaway with 5:36 remaining.

It was a Thompson 3-pointer, giving the Warriors a 97-89 lead with 2:34 remaining, that allowed the sellout crowd at Oracle Arena to exhale just a bit.

“If Kevin is out, then what you saw in the fourth quarter is what you're going to have to see going forward," Kerr said. "We're going to have to find a way. But got it done today.”

[RELATED: Harden oddly quiet late in Rockets' Game 5 loss to Dubs]

A Warriors roster made strong by five All-Stars, at the cost of quality reserves, now is forced to rely on complementary players whom they’d hoped to use only sparingly during this postseason. They wonder if they have enough able bodies to get through the Rockets and beyond.

“It’s all about understanding that if we use each other, we’re still a damn good team,” Green said. “Steve said in the huddle like, ‘Hey, Kevin’s out. We’ve won a lot of games with this group. Lock in and go get the job done.’

“We were able to do that. Shoot, it’s not going to be easy losing Kevin. One guy goes down and the rest have to step up.”

The Warriors hope to get enough from the likes of Kevon Looney, who was fabulous in Game 5. They’ll have to turn to others, too, but that is such a mystery.

They do know they have Curry, Green and Thompson, three men who have been tested through seven years as a trio, reaching the playoffs all seven seasons.

Sources: Warriors plan to send first-round pick Jordan Poole to G League

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AP

Sources: Warriors plan to send first-round pick Jordan Poole to G League

SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Warriors send Jordan Poole to G League Santa Cruz, and that definitely is in the works, the move will not be a surprise.

Nor should the decision be considered punitive.

Rather, it will be a major step in the process to help the rookie shooting guard rediscover his game.

Poole’s trip to the Santa Cruz Warriors could come as early as this week, according to multiple league sources, but several other factors are influencing the timing.

The Warriors, for one, are considering the future of two-way point guard Ky Bowman, who has played well but is up to 30 days of NBA service. Another 15 days and the Warriors either waive Bowman, hand him a standard NBA contract or send him back to Santa Cruz. One way to extend his time with the franchise is to send him to the G League. Such a move is more likely with the return of point guard Jacob Evans III on Monday night.

The Warriors are disinclined to send both Poole and Lee to Santa Cruz. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but they’d much prefer to avoid it.

The second consideration involves shooting guard Damion Lee, the team’s other two-way player. Largely because he has missed the last four weeks, he still has 31 days of NBA service remaining. Initially listed as probable (generally considered a 75-percent chance of playing) Monday afternoon, Lee was downgraded to “out” two hours before tipoff.

Insofar as Lee plays the same position as Poole, Lee’s return could trigger Poole’s journey 90 minutes south of San Francisco.

The Warriors, according to multiple team sources, already have decided to meet with Poole before laying out the plan for once he arrives in Santa Cruz. He crept closer toward that direction Monday night when he received his first DNP-CD of the season as the Warriors fell, 110-102, to the Grizzlies.

The move is a response to Poole failing to find any shooting rhythm, the aspect of his game that was unquestioned when the Warriors selected him in the first round, No. 30 overall, last June. He’s shooting 25.8 percent from the field, including 24.5 percent beyond the arc.

Those numbers surely played a part in Poole exhibiting some shooting uncertainty, even mimicking reluctance, that bespeaks low confidence. The result is a shot without touch and, often, an outright brick.

The Warriors are certain Poole is better than what he has shown. Poole, 20, also realizes he needs to be better. He’s a natural scorer, with a natural stroke that suddenly looks unnatural.

The Warriors realized weeks ago that Poole could benefit from the kind of shooting rehab that can only happen in the G League. But injuries -- five guards were on the injured list most of last month -- left them in no position to be without any healthy player.

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One of the three injured guards, D’Angelo Russell, returned last week. Evans III returned Monday night. A third, Lee, is expected back this week.

With that level of depth, the Warriors can give Poole the opportunity to get regular minutes in the G League and maybe rebuild the confidence he insists he hasn’t lost despite statistics showing otherwise. A place where microscopes won’t follow is the smart move, and Santa Cruz is perfect for a talented scorer in search of his gift.

The Warriors drafted Poole largely because of his ability to score. Playing in a democratic offensive system under John Beilein at Michigan, Poole didn’t put up massive numbers. But he knew how to get buckets.

Even though taking Poole in the first round was perceived by many around the league as a “reach,” the general belief was that his shooting was NBA-ready.

That has not been the case. The numbers don’t lie. The general belief now, at least among the Warriors, is that it’s past time to see if Poole can find his bearings in the G League and return to the NBA and actually be the shooter he’s expected to be.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 110-102 dud loss vs. Grizzlies

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 110-102 dud loss vs. Grizzlies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors entered Chase Center on Monday seeking the modest goal of winning consecutive games for the first time this season.

They failed, with a hail of missed shots and a flurry of turnovers sending them to a 110-102 loss to a Grizzlies team that had lost nine of its last 10 games.

The Warriors fell behind early, briefly went ahead in the third quarter and spent the fourth quarter trying to mount a comeback they couldn’t quite complete.

Here are three takeaways from a game in which the Warriors shot 37.6 percent and were picked apart on defense in the second half:

Morant routs Paschall in battle of rookies

Each team came into the game with a strong Rookie of the Year candidate, forward Eric Paschall for the Warriors and guard Ja Morant for the Grizzlies.

Morant, who had missed the last four games with back spasms, was better on this night and it was not close.

Paschall scored only five points, 12 below his average, while shooting 2-of-10 from the field and 0-of-2 from beyond the arc. He grabbed two rebounds and finished minus-14 over 22 minutes.

Morant practically willed the Grizzlies to victory, scoring 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-5 from deep and 7-of-8 from the line. He added seven assists and two rebounds, playing 29 minutes.

Morant made a couple dazzling plays, including a soaring dunk to give Memphis a 108-100 lead with 1:19 to play, effectively closing out the Warriors.

Draymond cranks up the offense

Though Draymond Green’s reputation for being a highly-effective defender lives on, he often is subjected to critiques about his scoring ability.

It’s not that he can’t. It’s that he usually doesn’t and hasn’t had to -- until now.

Presumably taking note of the team’s scoring challenges, Green immediately turned up his aggression on offense, scoring a team-high 14 first-half points in 16 minutes. Green, along with veteran guard Alec Burks (11 points), kept the offense from falling flat in the first half.

Green totaled 16 points, tying a season-high, shooting 6-of-13 from the field and 1-of-3 from deep.

The Warriors are a different team when Green is a scoring threat. It appears he is attempting to better establish that on a roster that needs it.

[RELATED: Draymond has ambitious plan for Warriors rookie Paschall]

Oh, those turnovers

Coach Steve Kerr hasn’t done much ranting about turnovers, a subject he often harped on over the last five seasons. Perhaps because of the youth and relative shared inexperience of his roster.

That’s about to change.

The turnovers are becoming almost routine. After rarely coming close to the 20-turnover mark in the first 20 games, the Warriors are averaging 19.0 over the last five. They committed 15 Monday night.

Worst of all, most of the turnovers were of the live-ball variety. The Grizzlies turned those 15 turnovers into 22 points.

That’s what stings most of all, seeing those giveaways turn into easy points the other way. The Warriors’ last five opponents, including Memphis, averaged 21.0 points off turnovers.