Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 121-116 OT loss to Clippers


Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 121-116 OT loss to Clippers


The Warriors didn’t have Stephen Curry at all, or Kevin Durant for the final four minutes. But they nearly found a way to steal a win in Los Angeles.

After wiping out a 14-point deficit inside the final seven minutes of regulation to pull into a tie with the Clippers, the Warriors pushed Monday night's game into overtime. They took their first lead of the game with 4:05 left in OT.

Nineteen seconds later, Durant fouled out, and that pretty much handed the game to the Clippers, who posted a 121-116 win at Staples Center.

Here are three takeaways from a game that the Warriors (11-3) didn’t deserve to win:

The Dubs were outworked ... until the final 11 minutes

The Warriors saw the scouting report and watched video. They realized one of the keys to the Clippers' success is their tenacity. They don’t have the most talent, but they’ve been outworking opponents.

So what happened? For 42 minutes, the Warriors still were outworked.

They dragged on defense and paid a steep price, as the Clippers shot 60.5 percent in the first half and 54.1 percent through the first three quarters. L.A. was beating Golden State badly on the glass (23-13 in the first half) and in second-chance points (9-0).

Though the Warriors turned those numbers around late in the fourth and OT, it wasn’t quite enough.

Durant didn’t get enough help on offense

KD had another strong game on offense, with a triple-double: 33 points (10-of-24 shooting from the field), 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He did about what was anticipated.

He needed a sidekick, though, and for most of the game, neither of the Warriors' other primary scoring threats -- Klay Thompson and Quinn Cook -- were up to the task.

Not until late in regulation and in overtime did Thompson rediscover his stroke. He finished with 31 points -- 20 in the fourth quarter and OT. He was 5 of 19 from the field before rallying to finish 13 of 31.

Cook, coming off a 27-point performance Saturday, managed just seven points on 3-of-7 shooting. He was as toothless Monday as he was terrific Saturday.

The one portion that held up its end was the bench. The reserves combined for 39 points on 15-of-22 shooting. On a normal night, that tips the scales.

On this night, it wasn't enough.

The young big men got cooked by L.A.'s

The Warriors are committed to relying mostly on their young centers -- Damian Jones, Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney -- to be a presence in the paint. They failed miserably in this game.

All three, and a few of their teammates, were taken to school by none other than Montrezl Harrell. L.A.’s hyperactive young big man spent the evening controlling most everything within 10 feet of the basket.

Jones, Bell and Looney played a combined 42 minutes, and submitted 11 points and six rebounds. Looney, who played 26 minutes, had a few moments, but he eventually wore down.

Harrell came away with 23 points (10 of 13 shooting), eight rebounds and four blocks. He was too good to take off the floor, and a big reason for L.A.’s 62-36 advantage in paint points.

The Warriors don’t need much from the youngsters. But they do need them to provide more resistance.

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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.

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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.