Warriors practice takeaways: D'Angelo Russell rounding into shape

Warriors practice takeaways: D'Angelo Russell rounding into shape

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors had a long practice Tuesday afternoon in preparation for their second preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves Thursday evening. 

With an injured roster, Golden State elected to bring in undrafted big man Kavion Pippen to get the team through camp. Meanwhile, the Warriors have seen little progress from its injured frontcourt. 

To catch you up on Tuesday's practice, here are the biggest takeaways from the team's media session.

D'Angelo Russell rounding into form

Russell struggled during Golden State's 123-101 loss to the Lakers Saturday evening, making just two of his nine shots from the field. Three days later, he admitted that he's still trying to get into mid-season shape.  

"After preseason, I would say a few games after that," Russell said Tuesday afternoon on when he expects to get his full wind. "It's definitely a lot of - you're putting a lot on your body in the preseason. It's not getting the full recovery you could get. Any time you go that hard and take a few days off - maybe a week off - I think your body is getting back to that." 

Following Saturday's loss, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that Russell had to "get his legs underneath him." On Tuesday, Russell -- who signed a four-year $117 million deal in July -- explained why he doesn't include pickup basketball in his summer training regimen. 

"I try to limit my pickup basketball," Russell said. "I think it's not safe for one and two, I think its just load managing. Trying to manage my body the best way I can and prepare for this time. But as far as staying in basketball shape I try to play one on ones and go around the court and play one on one full court, little stuff like that but not as high intensity with a big group." 

Russell said the decision came after injuring his knee in 2017 following a summer of preparation for his first season with the Brooklyn Nets. A month into the 2017-18 season, Russell underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to remove "loose bodies." 

"I was killing myself, two or three workouts a day," Russell said. "On top of what the team was asking for me to do, it was too much wear and tear." 

Russell -- who turned 23 in February --  said he hopes his body maintenance could lead him to a long career going forward.  

"For sure," Russell said. "Especially with the checks they're handing out. I want to play as long as I can." 

Warriors add a new big

With three of Golden State's big men injured, the team added Kavion Pippen -- a 6-foot-10 big man from Southern Illinois -- to help the team get through training camp. 

Pippen, nephew of NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, participated in a closed workout in San Francisco last week. With Kevon Looney (hamstring), Willie Cauley Stein (foot) and rookie big man Alen Smailigic (ankle) out with injuries, Pippen impressed. 

"We're so beaten up at the center spot," Kerr said. "So we need him to help us get through camp." 

"He's an athletic kid," Kerr added. "Been here two days now so six days behind but we need him because we hardly have enough bodies." 

Pippen -- who went undrafted this summer -- averaged 12 points and five rebounds last season for the Salukis. A native of Hamburg, Ark., he played two years at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich, Conn. On Tuesday, Pippen said his uncle, a winner of six NBA titles, said he talked to Scottie prior to signing with Golden State. 

"Just telling me to focus in," Kavion said of his uncle's advice. "Obtain as much knowledge from the veterans here and just play hard." 

Kavion got initiated into Golden State early. Prior to his first film session, he was sitting in guard Stephen Curry's seat and was asked to get up by the 3-time champion, a request he obliged. 

Pippen's chances to make the roster are slim, given Golden State's cap situation. Currently, the team sits $407,257 under the hard cap, despite having just 15 players on the roster.

The only way the big man could make the team is if the Warriors release Alfonzo McKinnie -- who's on a non-guaranteed contract. Nonetheless, Kavion's goal remains clear.  

"I'm definitely competing to get that [on] the 15-man roster." 

Notable absences

Alec Burks (ankle), Kevon Looney (hamstring), Willie Cauley-Stein (foot) and rookie big man Alen Smailigic (ankle) all sat out practice Tuesday afternoon.

Poole rolled his ankle before practice Monday afternoon and was held out for Monday night's open session at Chase Center.  During open practice, Poole sat on the sideline alongside Burks, Looney, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Smailigic.

While Kerr had no update on Cauley-Stein or Smailigic, he said Looney -- who tweaked his hamstring last week -- participated in individual work with the training staff but didn't join the team on the court Monday afternoon. 

[RELATED: KD reiterates Dubs couldn't stop him from playing in Finals]

The recent rash of injuries comes as Golden State is going through a transitional period. With Kevin Durant now with the Brooklyn Nets and Klay Thompson out until at least the All-Star break, Golden State is in a unique space heading into the 2019-20 season.

While none of the injuries are viewed to be long-term, it doesn't help to have an influx of injuries on a team with eight new summer additions. 

Warriors believe they're headed in right direction despite 5-22 record

Warriors believe they're headed in right direction despite 5-22 record

SALT LAKE CITY - The Warriors have lost a lot in the last six months. 

The most obvious wound is the gutting of its Hall of Fame roster, and the injuries that crippled it. But perhaps the most essential damage to the team's evolution is its most recent struggle: Failing to close out games talent used to be able to overcome. 

In its latest effort -- a 114-106 loss to the Jazz -- the Warriors led for much of the first half before Utah took control in the third quarter. The loss came at a strange time for Golden State as their three All-Stars -- Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry -- were nursing injured back in California and their prized rookie Eric Paschall was in the locker room due to a hip injury. 

Nonetheless, the league's worst team left Vivint Smart Home Arena seeing enough progress to believe they're heading in the right direction, even if the scoreboard says otherwise. 

"There is a lot of good stuff," Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted. "But you want that to lead to a win and that's coming."

Remnants of Kerr's positivity showed through the first 24 minutes Friday evening. In the first quarter, they held the Jazz to 39 percent from the field, outscoring Utah 14-8 in the paint. By the end of the first half, they built a 56-49 lead, marked by promising plays from its young core. 

Six minutes into the first quarter, 6-foot-8 big man Omari Spellman pulled down a rebound, went the length of the court, bullying his way for a layup to give Golden State a 20-18 lead. A quarter later, center Marquese Chriss blocked Jazz guard Royce O'Neal at the rim, ran the length of the floor and received a pass for an easy dunk on the other end, pushing Golden State's lead to 13. 

Following halftime, the Jazz responded by outscoring the Warriors 37-28 in the third quarter. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 10 of his game-high 32 points over the stretch, as Utah made a run that was all-too-familiar to Golden State. 

"They picked up their pace in the third quarter," Kerr said. "I'm sure they were not happy with their pace in the first half and so they played a great third quarter and put a lot of pressure on us."

Worse, even after the Warriors briefly took a 104-103 lead with just over two minutes left, the Jazz went on an 11-2 run to close the game, underscoring one of the team's biggest problems this season. Through 27 games, the Warriors are among the worst teams in the last five minutes of games. During the timeframe, they're posting a putrid 92.9 offensive rating, with a net rating of -33.6. 

For context, the 2017-18 Warriors -- featuring a healthy Curry, Green, Thompson and Kevin Durant -- posted a 112.2 offensive rating in clutch situations, finishing third in the league, leaving a mark the current battered Warriors are trying to fulfill.  

"I think we can win a lot more games than we have," said Chriss. "We've been in games that we could win and honestly that we should win. People try to say that our team is down and things like that but we're competing with teams that have their full roster. This team is full of fighters and teams that want to win." 

While the team is frustrated, their latest performance comes with a caveat. Clutch performances are built through experience, an attribute the league's third-youngest team has yet to gain. 

"I remember being in this position earlier in my career where you get the taste of winning, but you don't really know how to do it, you may just get lucky that night," said 23-year old guard D'Angelo Russell. "Other teams in the league that are solidified, they find a way to win and those other teams that aren't supposed to win find a way to lose so I think it comes with growth and experience."

[RELATED: Burks wants to stay with Warriors]

Late Friday evening, just before he left Salt Lake City for a late-night flight back to the Bay Area, recovering from yet another close loss, Kerr made a declaration for his young team, despite optics of the contrary. 

"I like where we're heading," he said. "I really do. I know it might sound crazy because of our record, but I think we're going to start winning some games. I think we're getting better."

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in deflating 114-106 loss to Jazz


Warriors takeaways: What we learned in deflating 114-106 loss to Jazz


SALT LAKE CITY -- Warriors big man Marquese Chriss said his team was "tired of losing" during his halftime interview with NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke on Friday at Vivent Smart Home Arena.

Unfortunately for Chriss, the Warriors will have to wait at least two more days to erase their current skid, as Golden State lost 114-106 to the Jazz. 

Unlike most nights, the Warriors -- without Draymond Green and rookie Eric Paschall -- showed fight, taking a seven-point lead after the first quarter. However, a second-half Utah run doomed their chances as the Warriors' inability to finish crippled them once again. 

There are no moral victories in sports and the Warriors will take another loss back to the Bay Area. 

Here are the takeaways as the Warriors fell to 5-22 on the season: 

Fast start erased in one quarter

The Warriors have been immune to quick starts over the last week. On Friday, the trend changed. Through the first 24 minutes, Golden State outscored Utah 26-18 in the paint, while holding the Jazz to just 43 percent from the field. 

Utah's defense was out of sorts in the second quarter, as the Warriors built a 13-point lead. On one possession, Chriss blocked a shot on one end, ran the floor unguarded and received a pass wide open under the basket for an easy dunk. 

Then the third quarter happened.

Over the next 12 minutes the Warriors were outscored 37-28. Even when the Warriors fought back, a key missed dunk from Willie Cauley-Stein ended any hopes of a win. 

The Warriors have shown fight amid injuries, but the only mark of success is winning, a goal the team again couldn't accomplish in Utah. 

Alec Burks shines

Against his former team, Burks was effective, finishing with 24 points including two 3-pointers. Despite shooting just 41 percent from the field this season, Burks has shown the ability to carry Golden State's offense when needed. His downhill attack consistently puts the opponent on edge. 

The location of Burks' output is noteworthy. He spent eight years playing in Utah before injuries derailed his career. His affinity for the town was apparent from the time he walked into the building. Following his pregame workout, he spent most of his time exchanging pleasantries with former teammates and arena staff, causing a Warriors team official to jokingly ask, "When is Alec's statue going up?"

[RELATED: Burks wants to stay with Warriors]

Chriss shined despite scare

The first-year Warrior continued his reclamation bid, finishing with 12 points, adding 13 rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes off the bench. 

Chriss had a slight scare in the third quarter when he knocked knees with a Jazz player contesting a layup. He was later diagnosed as a left knee contusion. 

Following a rough start to his career, Chriss has become a valuable piece to the transitional Warriors, providing rebounding and scoring off the bench. Friday was yet another example of his contributions.