Warriors

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 124-103 preseason win vs. Lakers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 124-103 preseason win vs. Lakers

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors ended their preseason slate with a bang, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 124-103 at Chase Center on Friday night. 

However, the victory didn't come with much star power. While the Warriors played their healthy starters, Los Angeles rested most of their veteran core, including LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard.  

With the win, Golden State finishes preseason play 2-3 and face a myriad of questions, particularly in the frontcourt. 

For now, let's get to the takeaways from Friday's win. 

Curry and Russell shine

After struggling for much of the preseason, D'Angelo Russell played well, finishing with 29 points, three rebounds and three assists, including six 3-pointers. 

Meanwhile, Stephen Curry poured in 32 points, including a four-point play in the fourth quarter. Occasionally this past summer, the two All-Stars trained in Golden State's old Oakland facility hoping to get the chemistry they displayed Friday evening. 

However, playing alongside Curry within Golden State's motion offense, Russell admittedly struggled through the team's first four games. He has All-Star talent and should find his rhythm during the regular season, especially with the spacing Curry provides.  

Rest of the Starters in dress rehearsal 

Playing as close to a regular-season rotation as possible, the Warriors starting lineup quickly found themselves down double digits. Through the first six minutes, the depleted Lakers built a 14-point lead. 

Marquese Chriss -- who effectively made the roster Friday -- air-balled his first attempt of the night, later committing an offensive foul. For good measure, Draymond Green earned a technical foul midway through the third quarter. 

With the season just under a week away, Golden State is a world away from last year's star-studded roster. Worse, injuries to Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein might linger into opening night. If Monday's performance against an undermanned Lakers team is any indication, the Warriors could be in trouble. 

Youngsters provide a boost

While Curry and Russell combined for 61 points, the Warriors' young core showed signs of life as well. With four minutes left in the first quarter, a lineup featuring Jacob Evans, Jordan Poole, Curry and Omari Spellman helped Golden State cut the Lakers' lead to one heading into the second quarter.

[RELATED: Robinson to start on opening night]

Poole -- who struggled his last two games in Los Angeles -- scored eight points, including two 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Eric Paschall added 11 points and seven rebounds. 

With a new roster, Golden State's young core will be counted on more than past years, meaning performances like Friday will have to be a regular occurrence. 

Luka Doncic developing into NBA superstar as clash with Warriors looms

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USATSI

Luka Doncic developing into NBA superstar as clash with Warriors looms

If the Warriors bring the same defensive intensity they took into Memphis on Tuesday, they’ll give themselves a reasonable chance to win Wednesday night in Dallas.

Anything less, and they’ll be food for the kid.

Three months and eight days before he can walk up to a bartender and legally order anything he wants, Luka Doncic already is taking whatever he wants within the NBA.

The league that provided a platform for such gifted 20-year-olds as Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Durant has never seen one quite like Doncic, who is driving the Mavericks into a new era of relevancy.

His across-the-board statistics are astonishing and testify to his impact. He’s the only player in the league that is in the top 10 in triple-doubles (first, six), assists (second, 9.3 per game), scoring (fourth, 29.5), player-efficiency rating (fourth 30.91), minutes (fourth, 35.0) and rebounds (10th, 10.7).

But those superlatives, which set Doncic apart, represent only the tangibles. It’s his background and intangibles that are making him not only a fabulous player but also put him on the fast track to superstardom.

The 6-foot-7 Slovenian guard/forward has the complete panache kit. The hubris to dribble between the legs of a defender. The audacity to demand the ball and take the shot in the final seconds of a close game. The no-look passes reminiscent of vintage Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The physical theatrics that speak the universal language of swagger.

Put another way, Luka’s game has elements of the late, great Drazen Petrovic, Bird, Magic, Kobe and LeBron.

He’s a “bad motherf-----," James said after he and Doncic exchanged lightning strikes in a 119-110 overtime victory by the Lakers on Nov. 1 in Dallas.

James had 39 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds in 43 minutes. Doncic had 31 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds in 38 minutes. Doncic now has 14 career triple-doubles, two more before his 21st birthday than Magic Johnson (seven) and LeBron (five) combined before theirs.

So, naturally, when Luka totaled 42 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in a 117-110 win over the Spurs on Monday, LeBron was compelled to comment via Instagram.

“He’s one BAD MOFO!!!!!. I tried to tell y’all.”

Doncic is one of two players in NBA history to open a season with at least 250 points, 100 rebounds and 90 assists in his first 10 games. The other? A legend named Oscar Robertson.

After facing Luka for the first time, last December, Warriors All-Star Draymond Green didn’t bother to skimp on the praise.

"That dude good," Green said after a 120-116 Warriors win. "He got it. He going to be a problem. He already a problem, but he's going to be really good for a long time. He is exciting to watch. He has kind of lifted that franchise."

Luka was, at that time, 19. He had played a total of 30 NBA games.

But Doncic had been a pro, sort of, for six years, since he was 13. That is not a typo but was his age when he signed a five-year contract with Real Madrid to play on the under-16 team. He was 16 when he made his actual pro debut. At age 18, a month before he was drafted by the Mavericks, he became the youngest person to be named Euroleague MVP.

And now he’s banging on the door of the NBA’s MVP discussion that centers mostly on Houston’s James Harden, who won it in 2018, and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, who won it last season.

Luka is the primary reason Dallas (8-5) is fifth in the Western Conference and making a bid to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. He has help -- notably seven-foot-three Kristaps Porzingis -- but Doncic is this team’s wheels, motor, horn and hood ornament.

“This guy can do anything he wants to on a basketball court," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, a former teammate of Bird, told reporters in Dallas on Monday. "He's having one of those magical runs right now. It's a phenomenal thing to watch It's a phenomenal thing to be a part of."

And here come the Warriors, who aren’t the rampaging bunch of recent years but have gotten much better after being the NBA’s worst defense through the first 12 games.

With D’Angelo Russell – wonderful on offense, generally nonchalant on defense – sidelined with a hand injury, coach Steve Kerr is starting his best defensive lineup. The guards: Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks. The forwards: Eric Paschall and Green, who assumes point guard duties on offense. The center: Willie Cauley-Stein. With them playing the bulk of the minutes over the last three games, the team’s defensive rating (103.0) is fifth-best in the league.

[RELATED: Warriors' hard work finally 'rewarded' with win in Memphis]

If the Warriors bring their best stuff, they have a chance. It’s only a chance, though, because the kid isn’t partial to being contained.

Warriors' hard work finally 'rewarded' with skid-busting win in Memphis

Warriors' hard work finally 'rewarded' with skid-busting win in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- For much of the young season, the Warriors have been in search of a small piece of continuity. 

With three of its four All-Star pieces out due to injury, the quest has been arduous for the Warriors, leading to the team's longest losing streak in since 2012. 

Those troubles momentarily paused when the Warriors beat the Grizzlies 114-95 on Tuesday to snap a seven-game losing streak while validating the progress the team has made in recent weeks. 

"I'm happy for the guys," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "They've been playing hard and working hard and It's good to see them rewarded."

Tuesday's win comes as the Warriors have played just well enough to lose in recent games. In Friday's loss to the Celtics, the team held the Eastern Conference leaders to just 40 percent from the field, with Boston guard Kemba Walker making just 6 of his 19 shots. Two days later, the Warriors held the battered Pelicans to 41 percent from the field, before losing 108-100. Entering Tuesday, the team allowed teams to shoot just 41.1 percent over their last two outings. 

Keeping with a recent trend, Golden State held the Grizzlies to just 40 percent from the field and forcing 14 turnovers. Rookie of the Year candidate Ja Morant struggled much, making just 7-of-20 from the field as the Warriors diversified its defensive sets for most of the night. 

"We came out and competed hard and executed the gameplan like we talked about and I'm proud of the guys," Warriors forward Glenn Robinson said. "I knew it was coming because of the way we played, we're trying to play hard and play the right way." 

"I think we just challenged ourselves," Warriors forward Draymond Green added. "That's something we've talked a lot about, getting better on the defensive end and we've been stepping up to the challenge." 

For much of the season, the team's defensive woes have coincided with its uncommon rash of injuries. The trend started on the eve of training camp when the Warriors announce Willie Cauley-Stein would miss most of October with a foot strain. Two days later, rookie Alen Smailagic rolled his ankle and Looney strained his hamstring in the same controlled scrimmage. 

In the last month, Curry broke his hand, sidelining the guard until at least February. Two nights later, forward Green tore a ligament in his left index finger. Last week, two-way guard Damion Lee fractured his hand. All the while, one of the league's most vaunted defense has plummeted to last in the league. 

Even as injuries mounted, signs of promise were apparent around the locker room. Rookie Eric Paschall is averaging 16.7 points and 4.8 rebounds, including a 30-point performance in Sunday's loss to the Pelicans. Veteran guard Alec Burk -- who signed a one-year contract with the team last summer -- is averaging 13.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 11 games. 

"The great thing with these guys is they've stayed with it every step of the way," Kerr said. "They haven't taken a day off, they haven't stopped working." 

[RELATED: Warriors get good news on Looney, Smailagic]

"You can definitely see that there's some improvement," Green added. "And with the improvement, we've been talking after each game about 'We're getting there, we're getting there, just keep on working.'" 

While their recent play has been promising, the real progress will be dictated by what the Warriors have been about for nearly a decade. 

"We've also been talking about don't get comfortable with just being there," Green said. "Don't get comfortable with 'Hey we're getting better.' Let's try to make this 'Hey, we're getting better' equal some wins."