Warriors

Warriors facing a hell of a problem, and only good health can fix it

Warriors facing a hell of a problem, and only good health can fix it

OAKLAND -- I think this might have been said in 2018 (in fact, since I was one of those who said it, I’m almost sure it was), but the Golden State Warriors are once again working toward their degree-of-difficulty badge.

This time, though, it seems all the worse, as the results keep deteriorating and piling atop each other, like Wednesday’s 123-95 crushing at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It represents Golden State’s first four-game losing streak since February and March of 2013, before Joe Lacob and Mark Jackson even thought of turning on each other. It was yet another worst-loss-in-the-Steve-Kerr era, a game in which they neither retrieved or protected the ball, nor did they prevent the Thunder from doing what they wanted at both ends. 

Mostly, though, it exacerbated the realization both within the team and outside it that Stephen Curry was and is the most obvious thing that keeps the gears greased, and that their prospects for straightening themselves out will get only incrementally better until his return.

This, though, was their seasonal nadir. Outrebounded, 61-42 . . . outshot, 106-83 . . . out-field goaled, 51-36 . . . out-threed, 13-7 . . . out-assisted, 29-24 . . . under-turnovered, 10-17.

And no, the Green-Durant thing is no longer an adequate explainer. This is purely about the basketball, which has been this team’s haven the fount from which all other things spring. They are vulnerable, and they know it.

“Things will get better ahead, it’s just hard to get out this slog we’re in,” Kerr said unconvincingly. He knows, too. The Warriors are easy to play because only Kevin Durant is treated with his due respect. Klay Thompson is moved out of his comfortable places with ease, and none of the other Warriors are considered even remotely worrisome. They are shooting a miserable 22.6 percent from three in this stretch (24 of 106), and Durant’s 27 points and 14 rebounds Wednesday night were unusually hard-fought. 

And even the comforts of past seasons don’t apply. When reminded that they were 9-1 in the longest stretch without Curry last year, Kerr dismissed the question as irrelevant.

“I don’t care to look back at last year,” he said. "We have a different team.”

Now you may argue whether their depth is being exposed or is being asked for more than it can deliver, but there is no clear alternative to these reversions to the early part of the decade save health, and yes, that very much includes Draymond Green.

Green’s troublesome toe may heal itself sufficiently by the weekend’s games with Portland and Sacramento and Monday’s with Orlando, though the compression of the schedule doesn’t help. Curry’s prognosis is more nebulous, so the learning curve Kerr continues to reference toward Damian Jones and Damion Lee and Quinn Cook will remain steep and unforgiving for the immediate future.

So until then, Kerr will continue to tweak and experiment and gamble and seek short-term solutions to what the team hopes is a short-term problem.

But it is a hell of a problem, at least by Warrior standards. Four losses in succession is one thing (including postseasons, their last one was 552 games and almost six years ago), but the way they are struggling to do essential things is most striking. Those struggles will almost surely continue until the roster reloads itself.

But if it helps, this championship, if it happens at all, will definitely be the hardest one yet.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 124-122 overtime loss to Knicks

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 124-122 overtime loss to Knicks

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- In the battle of the worst teams in the NBA, the Warriors came up short.

In their latest effort -- a 124-122 overtime loss to the dysfunctional Knicks (5-20) at Chase Center -- the Warriors (5-21) were bullied from the start as New York built a 22-point first-half lead. 

For much of the season, Golden State's veteran core has been warned that these types of starts will not end in its favor, considering the Warriors' lack of talent. On Wednesday, the team didn't take heed to the message, losing their second straight game. 

Here are the takeaways.

Warriors get bullied early

Bad starts have been the norm for this iteration of the Warriors and Wednesday was no different. Through the first 24 minutes, the Knicks built an 18-point halftime lead as Julius Randle, Marcus Morris Sr., and rookie RJ Barrett scored 44 points combined through the first two quarters.

The Warriors responded after halftime, outscoring the Knicks 37-21 over a stretch in the second half and showed the effort they should have put forth at the beginning of the game. D'Angelo Russell sent the game into overtime with a late 3-pointer.

In previous years, with a star-studded roster, Golden State could afford such starts with Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson looming in the wings. Now, with a younger cast, these types of starts can't happen. 

Solid game from Draymond Green

In a season he's not expected to score, Green did just that Wednesday evening, finishing with 14 points in 34 minutes. 

Playing mostly point forward role, he grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 12 assists, helping Russell and Glenn Robinson reach double figures. With three minutes left in regulation, Green found Russell for a 3-pointer to bring the Warriors within two points. On the next possession, he grabbed a rebound, found Russell again, leading to another score to tie the game. 

This year has been a trying one for the three-time champion as he's trading wins for lessons, putting his arms around the young roster. But as he showed, Wednesday, he's still got some game. 

Eric Paschall rookie wall?

Sure looks like it after his latest output. In 17 minutes, Paschall finished with just six points on 2-of-6 from the field. Entering Wednesday, he was one of the best rookies in the league. However, he's shooting just 39 percent from the field over his last three games as a hip injury is impeding his progress. 

In Wednesday's loss, he was battered, frequently grimacing, even after jamming his hand. 

No matter how good Paschall was at the start of the season, a rookie wall was inevitable. His response in the coming days will be vital.

Watch rehabbing Klay Thompson hit half-court shot at Chase Center

Watch rehabbing Klay Thompson hit half-court shot at Chase Center

Klay Thompson has yet to play a game at Chase Center, but on Wednesday night, he was seen shooting on the Warriors' new home court.

Prior to the Warriors' game against the Knicks, Thompson spent a few minutes shooting and even nailed a half-court shot.

A day earlier, the All-Star shooting guard was seen shooting after Warriors practice.

Thompson is rehabbing from surgery on his left ACL and is still months away from returning to game action.

With the Warriors mired in a 5-20 season, fans will take all the positive developments they can get.

[RELATED: Ayesha says Steph's injury was 'really, really bad']

We'll be honest: It's good to see Klay's sweet stroke again.