Warriors slap themselves awake before sleep time at All-Star break

Warriors slap themselves awake before sleep time at All-Star break

The Golden State Warriors had a hard time getting involved with the task at hand Wednesday night – namely, packing for the weekend.
Their basketball work, on the other hand – well, they came as close as a team can come to doing it in their sleep. And if there is a lesson in that, it can be found upside the Sacramento Kings’ collecting skulls. 
In boxing the Kings, 106-83, almost entirely on the strength of an overwhelming third quarter, the Warriors eased into the All-Star break four games clear of the San Antonio Spurs and playing largely against their own standard until the playoffs begin a million years from now.
Wednesday’s odd twist, which didn’t really move the needle all that much, was that Draymond Green got hurled into the ether in the final minute of the first half for two staccato waves of disgust and a pungent and disputatious colloquialism at official Ron Garretson. The technical fouls are his ninth and 10th of the season, closing the gap between him and league leader DeMarcus Cousins to seven, and that of suspension by the NBA’s Bureau Of Politeness to six.
But in his absence, the Warriors put up their 16th 40-point quarter of the season, blitzing the Kings, 42-15, largely behind Klay Thompson’s shooting (17 points on five-of-six) and Patrick McCaw’s ridiculous defensive work (he was plus-28 in 10 minutes).
And it wasn’t so much that they were beating the Kings as a show of solidarity for their wronged colleague (Green was called for a wonky foul but earned the two technicals) but as a realization that they were going to have to work much harder and more efficiently to slap themselves from their first-half torpor.
And slap they did, as they usually do. Thompson was the obvious catalyst, McCaw the omnipresent annoyance, and Kevin Durant (21/7/7) was properly Durant-y, but they also excised DeMarcus Cousins (a paltry 13/4/6 in 22 minutes) from the Kings’ game, in all putting down a 28-2 run in less than seven minutes to more than negate the fact that the Kings were three points better in the other 41.
But that’s Golden State in a pretty mahiogany box. The Warriors do that a lot, which is why they have won 34 of its 47 victories by double digits, and 17 by 20 or more. They have elevated the bar of stimulus for their home crowds to the point where they sounded almost Staples Center-disinterested through the first half. It took a Thompson 3 and then a Curry 3 a minute later to get them involved at all, but as the Kings kept going down the floor to achieve nothing over 16 possessions, the crowd got their time-released jollies and went home satisfied if not tingly. 
The game spoke very little new of the Warriors, but it showed the Kings what the reward for finishing eighth will be. True, the Kings will take anything given that they have missed the playoffs with a stirring consistency this past decade, and since the Warriors are almost certainly going to win the conference and Oklahoma City is almost certainly uncatchable, the Warriors would be their only fate.
And it would be a fate that would probably look a lot more like Wednesday’s than the Kings’ overtime win two Saturdays ago. Such is the gulf between the two, Draymond Green or no Draymond Green.
Not that that’s news or anything, but it’s all there is before this eight-day break. The Kings are in a death-war with Denver and Dallas and Portland and New Orleans and Minnesota, and the Warriors . . . are just the Warriors. Even if, as they were Wednesday night, just the Warriors for 12 minutes.

Warriors have a foul problem through first three games of NBA season

Warriors have a foul problem through first three games of NBA season

DENVER -- Draymond Green is not a fan of the NBA’s newest points of education, which he interprets, with sound reason, as being largely beneficial to offense. It certainly appears that way for the Warriors.

For they are having an exceedingly difficult time defending without being whistled for fouls.

“It seems like every game we’re coming out and committing four fouls in the first five minutes or so,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Sunday night, after the team’s first loss, 100-98 to the Nuggets at Pepsi Center. “It happened in preseason. It’s happened in all three games now.”

Three games into the season, the Warriors are minus-48 (108-60) in foul shots. They’ve been whistled for 81 personal fouls, an average of 27 per game. For perspective, they committed 1,607 fouls last season, an average of 19.6 per game.

“Some of the fouls we have are just dumb as hell,” Green said. “We’re in the bonus with six, seven and eight minutes to go in every quarter, and we’re still fouling. Some of them are a bit questionable and some of them are on us, just ridiculous.

“We’ve got to be smarter. We can’t sit there and act like every foul call on us is wrong. Throughout the course of the game, the officials are going to get some wrong. That’s the nature of the beast. They’re human. That’s the game we play.”

The Warriors paid a steep price against the Nuggets. Their fouls led to 42 Denver free throws, giving the Nuggets more than enough scoring to come away with a two-point victory.

Sure, Green missed a potential game-tying free throw in the final seconds. Sure, the Warriors were outrebounded (47-40). Sure, they shot 24.1 percent from behind the 3-point arc. And, sure, they were trailing by 13 with 8:28 remaining.

But no aspect of their performance -- with the possible exception of their 19 turnovers -- was more damaging than all those fouls, sending waves of Nuggets to the free throw line.

“It’s been called pretty tight,” Green said. “We were told that. Defense isn’t really an emphasis anymore in this league. You’re seeing that all around the league, with these high scores. We know what the emphasis is. We’ve just got to be better, and we haven’t done that in three games. We won two of them, but it caught us tonight.”

If the goal of the league was to generate more scoring, it’s working. Twelve teams are averaging at least 115 points per game. The Warriors, who last season led the league with 113.5 points per game, are at 110 after three games.

That’s the indirect influence of their fouling, which disrupts any chance of the Warriors gaining rhythm, much less kicking their transition game into overdrive.

“We’ve got to adjust, if that’s the way it’s going to be, consistently,” Stephen Curry said.

“We’re just not executing,” Green said. “We’re turning the ball over a lot. Part of that is we’re playing against a set defense every time.”

The transition game thrives when the defense is forcing misses or getting deflections and steals. Neither is happening as much as usual with the Warriors.

“We’ve got to correct it,” Kerr said. “We talk about it all the time, we drill it all the team. We do defensive drills without reaching, without grabbing, so you’ve got to just keep drilling it. It has to become something that becomes a habit. We haven’t gotten there this year.”

With a 2-1 record, it’s not as if the Warriors have fallen flat. But several problems have come to the surface, and fouling definitely is one of them. It’s one they’ll have to solve to get back to playing championship basketball.

Steph Curry passes Paul Pierce for sixth place on NBA all-time 3-point list


Steph Curry passes Paul Pierce for sixth place on NBA all-time 3-point list

With 4:24 remaining in the fourth quarter, Steph Curry drained a 3-pointer against the Denver Nuggets, and moved up the NBA record book in the process.

The triple was No. 2,144 of Curry's career, and he passed Paul Pierce for sixth place on the league's all-time, 3-point list. 

The two-time MVP added some distance between him and Pierce on the Warriors' next possession. Curry made another triple in the Warriors' 100-98 loss, the 2,145th of his career, 31 seconds later. 

Curry is now 829 makes away from passing Pierce's teammate, Ray Allen, for the top spot on the all-time list.

The next player in Curry's sights is Phoenix Suns guard Jamal Crawford, who the Warriors will host at Oracle Arena on Monday. Crawford is eight makes ahead of Curry on the all-time list, but the 38-year-old has not made a 3-pointer all season.

Assuming Crawford doesn't make a shot from beyond the arc on Monday, Curry could pass him. Of course, the 30-year-old would need to make nine triples -- a feat he's managed 17 times (in the regular season and playoffs) during his decade in the NBA -- in order to do it.