Warriors making strides but still struggling in clutch situations

Warriors making strides but still struggling in clutch situations

ORLANDO -- In a season of transition, the Warriors are learning their share of lessons. 

Their latest schooling came in Sunday's 100-96 loss to the Magic, when the Warriors squandered a one-point lead with just under three minutes left in the game. 

For years, the Warriors could look to veteran leaders and All-Stars to help close out games, using its experience to outsmart opponents on their way to multiple titles. Now, with several of those stars injured, the young roster is left to figure out how to win down the stretch.

"It's definitely one of those things that take time," Warriors forward Draymond Green admitted Sunday. "It's not something that just happens overnight."

While their latest attempt failed, the team showed promise. Down 12 points in the first half, Golden State took an 89-86 lead following a 3-pointer from Glenn Robinson III late in fourth quarter. Orlando responded with a 9-0 run, capped by a Khem Birch free throw with a minute to go, helping seal the game.

At the moment, the Warriors -- owners of a 4-17 record -- are the worst team in clutch situations, averaging just 6.3 points in the game's last five minutes in such situations. Worse, they're shooting just 39.6 percent in such situations. 

The current circumstances are much different than its performances of the past. Last season, the Warriors finished ninth in clutch situations, winning 57 percent of their games decided by five points or less with a roster featuring Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson. 

Now, as the Warriors reconcile a new chapter, they're beginning to make strides. Last week, they outscored the Chicago Bulls 26-17 in the fourth quarter to earn their fourth win of the season. Two days ago, they cut a 15-point lead down to six in the third quarter. 

Following Orlando's late run Sunday evening, Golden State used a 6-0 of its own with 33 seconds left, cutting the lead to two. The Warriors forced a five-second violation, setting up a chance to win the game with six seconds left, before Alec Burks missed 3-pointer at the buzzer. 

"The last three, four games we've played, I feel better about our execution down the stretch," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We just have to stick with it and let it pay off." 

"They made a couple shots, we missed a couple," Green added. "But when you're playing a game all you can ask for at the end of the game is to get yourself a shot to win the game and we did that."

[RELATED: Warriors expect to have Looney back Monday]

Golden State's latest improvement comes as the team is getting healthy. Over the next week, the roster is expected to get quality contributors D'Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans and Kevon Looney back in the lineup, helping the roster's need for veteran presences. For now, they'll just take the latest lesson learned on Sunday evening. 

"I thought we competed against Miami the other night. Tonight was a really good fight," Kerr said. "We competed, we defended like crazy. So I'm telling you the improvement is there, the competitiveness is there. We'll get over the hump, but it's just we're not there anymore."

Ayesha Curry describes Steph Curry's broken hand as 'really, really bad'

Ayesha Curry describes Steph Curry's broken hand as 'really, really bad'

Warriors superstar Steph Curry broke the second metacarpal in his left hand during Golden State's loss to the Suns on Oct. 30.

He underwent surgery on Nov. 1, and then had a second procedure last Friday.

Why did he go under the knife twice? 

"Because it was really really bad. Not a normal regular 'I fell off my bike' break. He just doesn't complain. My silent slayer," Curry's wife, Ayesha, said Wednesday afternoon on Instagram.

The follow-up surgery was to remove pins that were inserted during the initial incision, which helps explain the longer rehab process.

As ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski noted last month:

Curry is out until at least February, which is when Golden State will provide another update on the two-time NBA MVP's status.

[RELATEDWhy sitting with broken hand is hardest part of Steph's career]

Let's end this on a positive note:

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Eric Paschall believes he'll play in Warriors-Knicks despite hip issue

Eric Paschall believes he'll play in Warriors-Knicks despite hip issue

SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite being listed as questionable for Wednesday's game against the Knicks, Warriors rookie Eric Paschall believes he will be available for tip-off.

"Yeah, I think so," Paschall said after shootaround Wednesday morning. "I'm pretty sure I'm playing but I feel like I'm fine."

In an injury-ravaged season for the Warriors, the rookie has been a rare bright spot for Golden State. In 24 appearances, he's averaging 16.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 31 minutes. 

Entering Wednesday, Paschall -- who missed a 114-108 loss to the Thunder on Nov. 9 with a hip injury -- was listed as questionable for Wednesday with soreness in his left hip. Still, Paschall believes he will be in the lineup after a brief rehab schedule. 

"Got treatment on it all yesterday and I got treatment this morning," he said. "It's all good and I feel like I should be able to play tonight."

[RELATED: Russell explains worst part about current Warriors situation]

If Paschall has to miss the game, there will be more minutes available for big men Marquese Chriss, Willie Cauley-Stein and newly-recalled Alen Smailagic.