Warriors

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 141-122 blowout loss to Clippers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 141-122 blowout loss to Clippers

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SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors opened Chase Center on Thursday night with a performance they’d like to forget, and their fans couldn’t bear to watch.

The Los Angeles Clippers rolled in and spoiled the event, piling up a quick early lead and never being threatened, sending the sellout crowd to the exits early and leaving the Warriors to slog into the showers with a 141-122 loss.

Steph Curry scored a team-high 23 points, with D’Angelo Russell tossing in 20. Second-year guard Jacob Evans III and rookie forward Eric Paschall each put in 14, while Glenn Robinson III had 13 and Draymond Green totaled 11.

The Warriors’ defense is expected to be an area of concern and the Clippers exploited it, shooting 62.5 percent from the field, and pouring in 46 points while pulling away in the third quarter.

Here are three takeaways from Game 1 of the new era:

Doomed by an ice-cold beginning

The Warriors desperately wanted to make a positive first impression for fans flocking to the new place. They failed miserably.

The first three-plus minutes were about as bad as possible for a team opening a new arena. While the Clippers were rolling up 14 points, the Warriors were missing their first six shots.

That’s a wrap when facing a Clippers team with such stellar defenders as Kawhi Leonard, Lou Williams and Maurice Harkless.

The Warriors got no closer than four points in the first quarter, no closer than six in the second and spent the second half trying to avoid a blowout.

They failed, as LA maintained a very comfortable lead over the final 24 minutes.

Looney leaves, could be out a while

Kevon Looney missed all five preseason games with a strained right hamstring. He started at center and lasted 10 minutes before leaving after aggravating the hamstring.

The Warriors aren’t ready to put a timetable on his return, but hamstrings require considerable caution. It’s conceivable that Looney won’t be back until sometime next month.

He was solid while he lasted, particularly in the paint, grabbing nine rebounds -- including five on the offensive glass. He also swished his only 3-point attempt.

Looney’s presence is significant for team continuity -- he’s one of five healthy Warriors that were on the team last season. Moreover, he is crucial to their defensive integrity.

Until 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein is cleared to play, which should be fairly soon, the Warriors will rely mostly on Marquese Chriss and Omari Spellman to fill minutes at center.

Veterans are trying to set examples

The healthy pillars of the roster, Curry and Green, understand the predicament they’re in. They know they have to teach and lead and show their new teammates their standard for effort.

So, there was Curry in the first quarter, chasing a loose ball and diving out of bounds. He didn’t succeed in gaining possession, but the crowd took notice and so, to be sure, did the young Warriors.

[RELATED: Chuck tells Klay to his face that Dubs won't make playoffs]

When Green left the game in the first quarter after sustaining a right elbow contusion, it was announced that his return was to be determined. After getting his elbow taped, he returned in the second quarter and didn’t hesitate to draw a charge on 6-8, 230-pound JaMychal Green.

That’s the kind of pluck the vets want, and need, from the youngsters. There’s no better way than by showing them how it’s done.

Steve Kerr praises Warriors' fight vs. Nuggets as tough season draws on

Steve Kerr praises Warriors' fight vs. Nuggets as tough season draws on

SAN FRANCISCO -- Steve Kerr started his postgame press conference with a unique statement Thursday evening.

Following a 134-131 overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets, in which his team squandered a 19-point second-half lead, resulting in the Warriors' 10th straight loss. Amid the worst season under his watch, Kerr expressed optimism in a situation reserved for chaos.

"I thought our guys were great tonight," Kerr said. "They played really well together."

The Warriors were a cohesive unit during the first 24 minutes, holding the Nuggets to just 30 percent from the field while forcing 10 turnovers. By the end of the first half, Denver had shot just 15 of 49 from the field, with the Warriors showing signs of dominance along the way.

Nine minutes into the second quarter, Warriors forward Draymond Green picked up Nuggets guard Malik Beasley at half court, finishing the play blocking the guard at the rim to force a turnover. A minute later, Green blocked Monte Morris at the rim, momentarily preserving a 17-point lead.

While the start was a welcome sight, Kerr's words were earned by his team's heart down the stretch. When Denver used an 18-6 run to take a 111-108 lead in the fourth, the Warriors answered by scoring the next five points, including a 3-pointer from Eric Paschall to put the Warriors up two points with 10 seconds to go. When the Nuggets went up by seven in overtime, the Warriors responded with an 8-4 run in the final minute to earn their coach's praise.

"Fought back when Denver came at us in the second half with multiple runs," Kerr said. "We came back. Just couldn't quite get over the hump. Denver is a hell of a team and they deserve a lot of credit."

Golden State's latest loss comes at a time of peril for the Warriors.

With the loss, the Warriors earned their longest losing streak since 2002 - a season in which they finished 21-61. By the end of the evening, they had the NBA's worst record with 40 games to go. Amid the losses, the unit has found small improvements.

Damion Lee -- who signed a multi-year deal on Wednesday -- finished 21 points and six assists in 37 minutes. Over his last five games, he's averaging 13.6 points and five rebounds in 32 minutes.

As Lee continues to flourish, rookies Paschall and Jordan Poole seem to be finding roles of their own. After starting the season shooting just 26 percent from the field, Poole has made 41 percent of his 3-pointers over his last two games. Aside from his clutch shot Thursday, Paschall finished with 16 points, including a reverse baseline dunk in the fourth quarter to put the Warriors up.

"Both rookies have looked better of late,"  Kerr said. "It's good to see. It's a tough thing going through their rookie season. But I think they've both weathered some punches in their respective seasons and they're coming along nicely."

[RELATED: Chriss hopes to play with Dubs long term after reunion]

While Golden State's latest outing prompted praise from its coach, Kerr's biggest measure of success is winning. But for the moment, he'll applaud his team's latest step towards that goal.

"Proud of our guys' effort," Kerr said. "They continue to battle. I feel bad for them because they played well enough to win."

Will Steph, Klay be on minutes restriction upon return to Warriors?

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NBC Sports Bay Area

Will Steph, Klay be on minutes restriction upon return to Warriors?

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the Dubs as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askKerith.

Tip-Off

The Warriors are still looking for their 10th win of the season, as their losing streak has grown to 10 consecutive games. The rest of the month is tough. If the playoffs began today, the next six opponents the Dubs play to wrap up January -- Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics -- would be in the postseason. 

The players and coaches are frustrated, and so are fans. I like hearing from you in the mailbag. The most popular questions this week were about when Steph Curry and Klay Thompson might return. 

Game On!

Via instagram, @thebryannolen, @_habizz.walden_pnw, and @renegadegabe all wondered about Steph and Klay and whether they’d have minutes restrictions when they come back. 

Last week’s mailbag contained the update that Steph will be re-evaluated on Feb. 1 and Klay will be re-evaluated during the All-Star break. 

It was encouraging to see Steph and Klay travel with the team during the last road trip, and video from practice shows Steph shooting with his teammates. He was moving side-to-side with the ball in his hands, putting up 3-pointers with ease.

Keep in mind Steph’s re-evaluation date is still two weeks away. He might need more time to recover. When, or if, Steph comes back (and I think it will be when ... late February/early March is my feeling), he’ll probably be eased in slowly, per usual after long-term injuries. A minutes restriction will keep things manageable as he gets his wind back, while he builds chemistry on the floor with his new teammates. 

Klay spoke to reporters on Tuesday. It was the first time we’ve heard from him since Media Day, months ago. 

“I don’t know what’s going to come this season. I would love to get out there,” Klay said.

I think he’s holding out hope he could possibly play late in the season, while understanding it might not happen -- and that could be for the best.

“I’m trying to make sure this type of injury never happens to me again. So, I’ll be very patient because I want to play at a high level until I’m in my late-30s,” Klay added.

The medical staff needs to clear Klay for contact first, and that’s not happening for several weeks -- more likely months.

[RELATED: Watch Klay shoot at Chase Center

@MrHeavyMetaI What are chances Steph, Klay, D Lo and Green play a game together this season?? #askKerith

Because it’s uncertain Klay will play at all this season, I’ll entertain this question by saying a 2 percent chance. There’s wiggle room, but I feel doubtful. Even if all four of them are available toward the end of the season, one of them a night could be load-managed.

@misha1031 Watching the game (on Tuesday), I worried that we are not grasping how weak this team is on the floor (I’m not underestimating the difficulty of what this team is trying to do) In your opinion, how many seasons will it take to find a real core? One seems optimistic.

The Warriors have a core -- it’s Steph, Klay, Draymond Green, and Kevon Looney. Three out of those four have been dealing with long-term injuries. And Draymond is physically and mentally tired. 

There’s a chance D’Angelo Russell will grow into part of the core, but his first year with the team wasn’t what he expected. He deserves space to acclimate to handling a great deal of the scouring output. He’s been slowed by thumb, ankle, and shoulder injuries this season. 

The core is there for next season. Steph and Klay were forced to rest via rehab. Draymond’s obvious frustration this season should ease when he’s alongside the Splash Brothers again. Kevon’s situation of managing his neuropathy is concerning, but until reporters get word that Kevon needs something more than day-to-day management, I choose to be optimistic. 

Barring another season of injuries, the Warriors have their core next year. They also have a collection of young core candidates who have been through the fire this season. Lead by perhaps the best coaching staff in the NBA and an organization with a healthy culture in place, next season should be much better.

@DavidGrisar What is Steve Kerr’s contract status? Did he sign a new deal?

Kerr signed a contract extension in the summer of 2018, and Warriors Insider Monte Poole learned Kerr is expected to coach at least the first two seasons at Chase Center. You can find more details here. 

@TheMattBoyle More likely Steph plays in the Olympics given this will be a less taxing regular season?

For sure. Going from the Finals to the Olympics, for example, would not give Steph a chance to rest and recover. Concerns about recovery kept him out of the 2016 games in Rio. But a deep Warriors playoff run is not the situation this season. Being an Olympian is one honor Steph doesn’t have yet in his career. This summer in Tokyo should change that.

@AnneHarr13 Does the team fly out of SFO now, rather than out of OAK?

Yes. The team practices and plays games in San Francisco, so they fly out of SFO too. 

Via instagram, @mr.blai asks, Where do those boxes of food the players bring to the plane come from? Are they just takeouts from their favorite restaurants? 

There is food everywhere, provided by the team. Those takeout boxes you see contain healthy, catered meals. There’s salad, lean meats, noodles, quinoa, cold cuts, cheeses, smoothies, juices, you name it.

Players will never go hungry. There’s food before take off, on the plane, at practice, and in the locker room pregame and postgame. One of the most popular snacks on hand is the old comfort food, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

High Five

This week’s high five goes to Klay Thompson, who will see his Washington State University number lifted into to the rafters in a jersey retirement ceremony Saturday in Pullman, WA. 

He led the Pac-12 in scoring his junior year before declaring for the draft, and he left the school with the single-season scoring record of 733 points. 

I’ll be in Pullman to cover the ceremony. Stay tuned for interviews, video, and pictures!

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.