Warriors must bring life, energy to overcome lessened margin for error

Warriors must bring life, energy to overcome lessened margin for error

HOUSTON -- Throughout their dynastic run, the Warriors used occasional regular-season games as a battle against themselves. 

On some nights, the team would catch itself in a lull, fall into a manageable double-digit deficit and use its superior talent to dig its way out. 

Now, with much of its star-studded cast either gone or injured long-term, Golden State's latest iteration got an important lesson in Wednesday's 129-112 loss to the Rockets: The force should never wane regardless of the score. 

"A big part of this league is just fighting," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the defeat. "Keeping your energy and your spirit up all the time. Whether you're having a good night or a bad night, it can't be dependent on your own success." 

The origin of Golden State's lesson came as the team was finding success. Following an and-1 in the second half over Rockets guard James Harden, rookie forward Eric Paschall walked to Golden State's bench and yelled, "He's food!" before making the ensuing free throw. A Paschall dunk on his next possession put Golden State up 46-42 midway through the second quarter. 

Then, Harden and the Rockets responded with a 23-8 run to close the half, outscoring the Warriors 33-23 in the second quarter. By halftime, Harden had scored 20 of his game-high 36 points. Along the way, Golden State's field-goal percentage dwindled to 37 percent in a performance that went away from the team's motion offense to one mimicking Houston's isolation style. 

"I didn't like our shot selection as a team tonight," Kerr said. "I didn't think we played for each other. I thought we were driving to try to score instead of driving to try and move the ball to someone on your team who can make the next play."

"I think we got away from playing for each other. Just playing a little selfish at times," forward Omari Spellman added. "Driving for the iso instead of driving for somebody else."

Golden State's search for consistent force comes as most of its team isn't on the floor. In the last 10 days, five players have missed games due to injury, including star guards Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, who will both be re-evaluated in February. Additionally, Draymond Green didn't travel with the team on the current road trip to treat a torn ligament in his right index finger. Of the nine active players for the Warriors on Wednesday night, just seven were on guaranteed contracts. 

The energy, the spirit ... everything has to be there to be a consistent player in this league. You have to recognize and understand you're going to have some tough nights, and on those tough nights you're still going to have to bring life and energy. 

Even in the face of injuries, the battered Warriors have maintained a baseline energy level for relative success. On Saturday, Golden State held the Charlotte Hornets -- the league's best 3-point shooting team -- to just 17 percent from beyond the arc, and took a brief lead with just over a minute left in regulation. Two nights later, the Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers, limiting guard CJ McCollum to just 37 percent from the field. 

Last season, with a roster featuring Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, large deficits were always met with the threat of a comeback. In 82 games, the Warriors came back from deficits of at least 10 points nine separate times. Now, the team is relegated to following its coach's final statement of the night. 

[RELATED: Warriors learn lesson in poor third quarter vs. Rockets]

"You got to keep fighting," Kerr urged. "I was disappointed in those lulls we had. We've got a young team and they've got a lot to learn."

Warriors' rookie Eric Paschall believes he'll play against the Knicks


Warriors' rookie Eric Paschall believes he'll play against the Knicks

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

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

In an injury-ravaged season, 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 morning Paschall -- who missed a 114-110 loss to the Thunder Nov. 10 with a hip injury -- was listed as questionable with soreness in his left hip. Still, Paschall believes he'll 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."


Warriors recall rookie Alen Smailagic from G League before Knicks game

Warriors recall rookie Alen Smailagic from G League before Knicks game

Alen Smailagic just might make his NBA debut Wednesday night against the Knicks.

The Warriors recalled the rookie big man from their G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, the team announced.

Smailagic -- the No. 39 overall pick in the 2019 draft -- sprained his ankle during Golden State's second training camp practice, and was sidelined for nearly two months.

He made his season debut with the Sea Dubs on Nov. 29, and averaged 12.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in 21.9 minutes over his first six appearances.

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The 19-year-old shot over 47 percent from the field and 33 percent (8-for-24) from 3-point territory.

At this point, it's unclear if the Serbian will travel with the Warriors for Friday's game at Utah, or if he will play in Santa Cruz on Friday night against the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario.

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