Warriors

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 110-103 win over Hawks

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 110-103 win over Hawks

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND — With Stephen Curry wearing a suit on the bench and Draymond Green nowhere near Oracle Arena while suspended over his beef with Kevin Durant, the Warriors buttoned up just enough things to forge a 110-103 win over the lowly Atlanta Hawks.

Four Warriors scored in double figures, with Durant and Klay Thompson leading the way, as Golden State pushed its record to 12-3.

Here are three takeaways from the game in which the Warriors shot poorly but found a way to prevail after a drama-filled day:  

They found some grit

Neither Kevin Durant (29 points) nor Klay Thompson (24) had a monster offensive game, as they combined to score 53 points on 17-of-41 shooting from the field. Durant really struggled, going 9 of 23 from the field. It didn’t matter.

That’s because one night after losing the battle of wills to the Clippers in Los Angeles, the Warriors dug in and played with a much higher level of determination.

They outrebounded Atlanta (48-42) and forced 17 turnovers (off which they scored 23 points), while committing just 13, giving the Hawks 10 points.

The Hawks (3-11) are short on talent, but they play with purpose. That’s how they came within one point of beating the Lakers on Sunday night in Los Angeles.

Beating them requires a certain focus. On a night when the Warriors didn’t shoot well (42.9 percent), they had it.  

Jerebko acquitted himself very well

Jonas Jerebko got the start at power forward in the absence of Green and submitted a strong all-around game, totaling 14 points and 13 rebounds -- both season highs -- in 25 minutes.

In posting a team-best plus-23, Jerebko pretty much did much of what Green does when he’s in the lineup, most importantly providing energy.

Jerebko drained four 3-pointers, but his effort was most visible in his relentless pursuit of rebounds and loose balls. At one point in the third quarter, he went after a loose ball and ended up going over the courtside seats.

Finishing with his first double-double as a Warrior and the 11th of his career, Jerebko was an excellent fill-in for a team that needed him in a pinch.  

Cook’s offense bounced back

After a subpar game against the Clippers, scoring seven points in 22 minutes, Quinn Cook came home and rediscovered his offensive game.

Cook finished with 18 points (8 of 18 from the floor, 2 of 7 from deep) and a team-high six assists. He was a plus-5 over 34 minutes.

The Warriors still have no timeline for Curry’s return. As long as he is out, the Warriors need Cook to provide some scoring. It’s the surest way to take some of the pressure off Durant and Thompson while also forcing opponents to cover more of the floor.

There is one more benefit to Cook’s scoring. It offsets some of what he gives up on defense.

Warriors glad to be done with Kings ... until potential playoff series

Warriors glad to be done with Kings ... until potential playoff series

OAKLAND – The Warriors have 24 games remaining on their regular-season schedule. They’ve got the Houston Rockets, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers on the slate, and they welcome them all.

They’re eager to face anyone, home or away. Well, as long as they are not the Kings.

There were two collective sighs of relief emanating from the Warriors late Thursday night after a 125-123 victory over Sacramento at Oracle Arena. The first was for the win, which wasn’t assured until Kings guard Buddy Hield pulled the string on a midrange jump shot with 2.6 seconds left. The second, and more palpable sigh, was because this was the last of four games against Sacramento this season.

That is unless the teams meet in the postseason, something at least one member of the Warriors would rather avoid.

“Every game we play those dudes, I leave the game exhausted,” Draymond Green said. “I go home and I’m dead.

“So, hopefully not.”

The Warriors swept the season series, four games to none, but every game was decided inside the final minute.

“This is the fourth game that we deserved to lose against this team,” Kevin Durant said.

“I can tell you the common issues that keep us from getting separation: turnovers and offensive boards,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr noted. “Down the stretch tonight ... just felt like they got every offensive board. When the game is on the line, you have to get the ball.”

The Kings pose problems not only for the Warriors, but also for most of the NBA, because they are the fastest team in the league and have plenty of length on the wings.

They are relentless. They’re on their toes, seemingly at all times, and that sometimes catches the Warriors flat-footed.

“They’re never out of it,” Stephen Curry said. “They put pressure on you all over the floor with certain lineups they have.”

Sacramento may be the only team in the league capable of making the Warriors look, dare we say, old and slow – because that happened at times Thursday night, and also in stretches of the three previous games this season.

“They are athletic and energetic, so they got a lot of extra possessions, probably seven or eight more possessions,” Kerr said. “It’s tough to beat a team when you have to do that, so we had to get some big contributions from Steph, KD and some big baskets from Klay (Thompson) just to squeak it out.

“If we happen to play them in the playoffs, we’ll have to clean that up.”

The Warriors emerged victorious because they have the kind of winning habits the Kings are trying to build. The Warriors reached the NBA Finals in four consecutive seasons, while the Kings have not reached the playoffs at all since 2006.

For the Warriors, this is business as usual. Curry submitted 36 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Durant delivered 28 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a career-high-tying seven blocks. Green made three 3-pointers, only the second time this season he has drained more than two in a game. DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Find a way. That’s how the Warriors roll and it’s how they’ve had to play to beat Sacramento.

[RELATED: Kerr credits 'ahead of this time' Nelson for modern NBA]

For the Kings, this season is an awakening. There was some stirring last season, during which they beat the Warriors twice in four games, but now they’ve got an identity – and nearly as much confidence as young talent.

“They’re just lacking experience, in my opinion,” Durant said. “They’re going to be one of those teams to be reckoned with soon.”

For now, the Warriors would just as soon reckon with the Los Angeles Lakers, or the San Antonio Spurs or the Timberwolves. Yes, anybody other than the Kings -- particularly if you’re Draymond Green.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in nail-biting 125-123 win vs. Kings

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in nail-biting 125-123 win vs. Kings

OAKLAND -- The fourth time against the Kings was no different from the previous three for the Warriors, who once again needed all the moxie their championship DNA could muster.

This one wasn’t over until Kings guard Buddy Hield was short on a jumper with two seconds remaining, allowing the Warriors to escape with a 125-123 victory Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

All five Warriors starters scored in double digits, led by Stephen Curry’s 36 points and 28 more from Kevin Durant.

The Warriors (42-16) concluded the season series with a 4-0 record against Sacramento (30-28), the four games decided by a total of 12 points.

Here are three quick takeaways from another thriller:

The superstars shall lead

When all else fails, turn everything over to Curry and Durant. What a luxury.

Curry was the closer, scoring 11 points in the final seven minutes. He was 12-of-23 from the field, including 10-of-16 from deep and 2-of-2 from the line. He also recorded seven assists. He played 36 minutes and was plus-six.

Durant scored 17 of his points in the first half, 13 in the opening quarter. He was 10-of-20 from the field, including 1-of-5 from beyond the arc and 7-of-7 from the line. Durant also totaled nine rebounds and a career-high seven blocks.  He played 37 minutes and finished plus-seven.

On a night when the Kings proved yet again that they are to be taken seriously, the Warriors surely understand that their greatest offensive advantage is having Curry and Durant to pour in the points at critical times.

Second-unit blues

One of the goals for the Warriors over these final weeks of the regular season is finding an effective second unit, one capable of holding, if not extending leads built largely on the exploits of Curry and Durant.

That need was on full display in the second quarter. The Warriors entered with a 35-30 lead it took only three minutes -- and a 15-5 run by Sacramento -- to fall behind 45-40.

The Kings pushed the lead to 11 (54-43). The Warriors were down eight (54-46) when coach Steve Kerr turned to the Hamptons 5 (Curry, Durant, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson), who outscored the Kings 14-8 over the final four minutes of the half.

Sure, they missed Shaun Livingston, who was at home with his wife, who is expected to deliver their second child at any time.

But the second unit dug a hole the Warriors spent the rest of the evening trying to climb out of and didn’t gain another five-point lead until 6:36 remained.

Near-death by turnover

Maybe it was because this is the first game after a week-long break. Or maybe it was because after three previous games, the Warriors still haven’t adjusted to the quickness of the Kings.

But the live-ball turnovers just . . . kept . . . coming. They committed a total of 15 giveaways -- including an astonishing 11 in the first half -- off which Sacramento scored 22 points.

Durant and Curry each committed three, while Thompson, Kevon Looney and Cousins each coughed up two.

It was enough to keep the Kings in the game.

Turnovers are a pet peeve of Kerr's, and the Warriors spent most of January and early February keeping them to a minimum. They reverted to the worst of themselves in that regard Thursday night.