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Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 122-108 loss to streaking Jazz

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Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 122-108 loss to streaking Jazz

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SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors were hoping the return of Draymond Green to the lineup Monday night at Chase Center would address some of their problems, and maybe they did.

But it brought no real solutions.

A 122-108 thumping by the Utah Jazz pushed the Warriors’ losing streak to a season-high four games and dropped them back into being the sole occupant of the Western Conference cellar.

Green, who missed four games with a sprained left index finger, was so frustrated he griped himself into two technical fouls and the automatic ejection that comes with such a package.

Here are three takeaways from another Warriors loss.

Good news: Improved rebounding

With 7-foot-1 center Rudy Gobert doing most of the snagging, grabbing 13.0 rebounds per game, the Jazz have maintained a slight edge over opponents.

The Warriors weren’t in the mood to fall victim to that trend.

After being clobbered on the glass the past two games in Minnesota and Oklahoma City, the Warriors submitted a more than respectful performance, winning that battle 44-43.

Green grabbed seven in 22 minutes before he was ejected with 8:28 left in the fourth quarter. Centers Willie Cauley-Stein and Marquese Chriss combined for 19. Eric Paschall, coming off the bench, pulled six.

Now, the question is whether they can string together a few games where they don’t get savaged on the glass.

Bad news: Same ol’ defense

Once again, there were too many occasions when a Warriors opponent had an open shot. Open corner 3-pointers. Open half-court dunks. Open via backdoor cuts.

Sometimes, it’s slow rotations. Other times, it’s miscommunication. Sometimes, it’s a lack of awareness. Other times, it’s outright negligence.

There was the reasonable belief that some of these issues would be resolved, at least somewhat, with Green’s return. For the most part, they were not.

Utah, which entered the game shooting 45.6 percent from the field as a team, simply lit it up, shooting 49.4 percent from the field, including 45.7 percent from deep. A better measure of came through the first three quarters -- before the rather inconsequential fourth -- when the Jazz scorched the nets at a 55.9-percent clip, including an astonishing 57.7 percent from deep.

[RELATED: Steph injury latest reminder of Warriors' unfamiliar position]

D-Lo’s one-man show

For the third consecutive game, D’Angelo Russell led the Warriors in scoring. Maybe he wants to. He surely has to, or these losses would all fall under the category of gratuitous bullying.

Shooting 13-of-25 from the field, including 5-of-9 beyond the arc, Russell finished with 33 points, running his average to 38.3 points per game over the last three since returning from a three-game absence with a mild right ankle sprain.

Though three other Warriors reached double figures, Russell’s 17 first-quarter points exceeded the total of any of his teammates.

Yeah, it’s obvious. Without Steph Curry around to fill it up, the Warriors need D-Lo to keep shooting. He doesn’t seem to mind.

Why Steph Curry's gesture at Oracle Arena finale touched Monta Ellis

Why Steph Curry's gesture at Oracle Arena finale touched Monta Ellis

For the final regular-season game in Oracle Arena history, Warriors star Steph Curry arrived rocking a No. 8 Monta Ellis jersey.

"Obviously, a lot of history that Monta was able to be a part of with the 'We Believe' Warriors era, and when I got here my rookie year, he was that guy," Curry told reporters back on April 7. "And I think for me, in terms of representing him on the last game, it meant a lot because we were in that backcourt together. 

"When he was traded it was a tough time in terms of the transition of the organization and things like that. I wanted to pay, obviously, honor to him in terms of his story, coming out of high school and doing what he was able to do. He was an Oakland fan, Warrior fan. Beloved guy."

Shortly after he got wind of Curry's gesture, Monta reacted on Instagram. But he recently expanded on his feelings.

"The biggest thing that I always wanted to do, like, when I leave this Earth, is know that I impacted somebody in some shape or form, no matter if it was on or off the basketball court," he told Marcus Thompson of The Athletic. "That’s my biggest thing.

"So to hear that from him, man, it just means I did what I was supposed to do. I made an impact on somebody’s life before I left here.”

During the 2009-10 season -- Curry's rookie campaign -- Ellis averaged a career-high 25.5 points per game.

[RELATEDKerr explains why he prefers Thanksgiving over Christmas]

The following year, he racked up 24.1 points and 5.6 assists per contest, while Curry registered 18.6 points and 5.8 assists per night.

Although Monta was disappointed with how the franchise handled his trade to Milwaukee in March 2012, he has nothing but love for Dub Nation.

“That’s my second home,” he told Thompson. “I love Oakland. The fans are like no other. I’ve never seen any other fans in America like Oracle.”

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Why Steve Kerr’s message to enjoy Warriors' dynasty should’ve been heeded

Why Steve Kerr’s message to enjoy Warriors' dynasty should’ve been heeded

Steve Kerr knew this season would be different, how could he not?

Still, even the Warriors head coach couldn't have predicted how drastically different his sixth season in the Bay would be. 

Kevin Durant left to become a Net. Klay Thompson likely will miss the entire season rehabbing his torn ACL. Then, Steph Curry broke his left hand and will be re-evaluated in February and D'Angelo Russell missed nine of the first 21 games with a thumb sprain. This has left Kerr to lead a group of rookies, role players and reclamation projects through the NBA season.

Dynasties aren't built to last. Kerr, a six-time NBA champion as a player and coach, knows that. He knows how fleeting championship runs can be. The Warriors have gone from dreaded bully thirsting for June champagne to a champion laying on the canvas as a 12-month recharge washes over them.

“No,” Kerr laughed when NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson asked if he thought anyone savored last season's run when he told them to. “It’s human nature to think we’re going to win it again and we’re going to keep going forever. Life changes quickly.

“I talked not only to the media and our fans but to our team. Last year there were several times when I said, ‘This is going to be our best chance to win a championship.’ We’ve got an incredible opportunity that may never come up again. That’s something that’s important for everybody to realize---fans, management, players. It is lightning in a bottle. You can do everything perfectly and you still may not get to where you think you might be.”

The Warriors will be back. That's the plan at least. This season serves as a reboot point. A mere pitstop in a dynasty that has been paused not concluded.

But plans, even those best laid, rarely go as drawn up. Kerr knows that. That's why he implored everyone from Curry to those sitting in the nosebleeds at Oracle Arena to enjoy one of the most impressive runs in NBA history.

You never know when things will come back, and things surely never will be the way they were when Curry and Warriors were pulverizing teams into oblivion en route to five-straight NBA Finals appearances.

That ride, as Kerr predicted, came to an end.

A new one has begun.

[RELATED: Warriors' plan might draw speculation after two inexplicable losses]

The Warriors sit at 4-19. Rookies Eric Paschall and Ky Bowman have played well, as has veteran swingman Glenn Robinson III. But it's unlikely to amount to many wins this season. It's instead about teaching, about growth for next season when a fully loaded Warriors team will enact its vengeance on an NBA that is taking pleasure in pummeling the wounded champions. 

That will be a sweet moment for Kerr and the Warriors, should it come.

Pleasure, in sports and in life is, fleeting. Titles come. Confetti falls. Elation hits. Then, it's on to next year, and one day, before you've blinked, things are different. The run is over and a new course has been charted.

That course is expected to get the Warriors back to the top soon. If it does, expect everyone to heed Kerr's advice and enjoy the ride.