Warriors takeaways: What we learned from lifeless 123-95 loss to Thunder

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from lifeless 123-95 loss to Thunder


OAKLAND -- Every game for the Warriors lately is a long crawl up a slippery hill, and they don’t have much to show for it besides the sweat from their effort.

They lost their fourth in a row Wednesday night, 123-95, to an Oklahoma City Thunder team that, frankly, did not play exceptionally well. It's the first four-game losing under coach Steve Kerr.

Though Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson showed visible signs of coming out of their shooting slumps, the Warriors simply did not do well enough in too many other meaningful areas to find success.

Here are three takeaways from the game that left a sellout crowd at Oracle Arena hoping for the return of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green:

Jones’ rebounding struggles were costly

The Warriors entered the season knowing rebounding could be an issue. It is, particularly with starting center Damian Jones.

Jones’ poor rebounding leaves coach puts the Warriors in quite the quandary. Kevon Looney is the best rebounder among the team’s trio of young big men, but he’s three inches and 20 pounds shy of Jones, who is 7-feet, 240 pounds.

Jones played 11 first-half minutes and did not grab a rebound. He played 10 minutes in the second half without grabbing one. He finished with zero for the game, which is woefully inadequate under any circumstance but is particularly so when Oklahoma City big man Steven Adams pulled down 11, with two teammates matching that total.

Coaches and teammates have implored Jones to bring more of rebounding mindset. Jones has vowed to improve. He hasn’t, and it was painfully evident in this game.

They punished themselves with turnovers

The Warriors have a tough enough time winning when they are without Curry and Green. It’s practically impossible when they are so insistent on helping their opponents, as they did Wednesday.

For the third time in the last six games, the Warriors gave their opponents at least 20 points off turnovers. OKC scored 24 points off 17 Warriors turnovers -- most of them off live-ball action.

Most every Warriors comeback attempt, and there were several, ended with a series of turnovers that led directly to Thunder baskets.

When you’re losing the battle of the glass -- 61-42 in this instance -- it’s profoundly important to limit turnovers. The Warriors didn’t and they paid the price.

Durant and Thompson are warming up

Durant scored 27 points on 11-of-22 shooting, the first time he has shot at least 50 percent since a Nov. 10 win over the Brooklyn Nets. Durant added a game-high 14 rebounds.

Thompson also scored 27 points, on 10-of-22 shooting, including 3-of-8 from beyond the arc. This was his best shooting performance since, yes, Nov. 10 against Brooklyn.

The problem on offense was, for the most part, their teammates. The rest of the Warriors combined to shoot 15-of-39 (38.5 percent). Damion Lee, with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, was about the only scoring support given to Durant and Thompson.

Why LeBron James didn't win his rivalry with the Warriors in any way

Why LeBron James didn't win his rivalry with the Warriors in any way

Another day, another crazy comment on the Internet.

On Thursday morning, Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated said the following:

"In a way, LeBron James won his rivalry with the Warriors. Sure, he was just 1-3 against them in the Finals. But with the Dubs done and the Lakers looking like contenders, it appears his dynasty has outlasted theirs -- which is something that once seemed unimaginable, considering James was in the midst of a fifth straight Finals trip when they first met, and since a 73-win team added KD before the rubber match.

"And what James said about missing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in 2015 has some validity. Of all their meetings, none will have the meaning of 2016. The comeback from 3-1 to vanquish what would have been the greatest season in NBA history must still sting in a way LeBron losing with Matthew Dellavedova as his wingman won't.

"And I don't think anyone believed it was reasonable for James to conquer Golden State plus Durant after that. Now the Warriors are in the lead for the lottery while the Lakers are on top of the West with LeBron on an early MVP campaign and leading the league in assists."

First and foremost -- the Warriors beat LeBron and the Cavs in the NBA Finals three times out of four. So no -- in no way, shape or form did LeBron win his rivalry against Golden State.

We could just end this article right now, but let's continue a little longer.

Yes, LeBron is off to a terrific start this season and the Lakers -- who beat Golden State by 26 points Wednesday night -- are rolling at 9-2.

But what if Los Angeles doesn't win the championship this year? We have no clue how things are going to play out.

Even if the Lakers ultimately win the 2020 title, it will not be an indictment whatsoever on the Warriors -- who have been decimated by injuries.

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Now, it would be a different story if a healthy Lakers team beat a healthy Warriors team in the playoffs, but that won't be happening this year.

Hopefully we get to see a Warriors-Lakers matchup sometime in May 2021. That would be great for the NBA and basketball fans everywhere, and actually could be used as "evidence" when discussing the "LeBron-Warriors rivalry."

Until then, it's silly to make any sort of judgments.

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Potential Warriors NBA draft target James Wiseman declared ineligible

Potential Warriors NBA draft target James Wiseman declared ineligible

Today is a bad day for college basketball and its fans.

Memphis star freshman James Wiseman -- the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft -- was declared ineligible.

The school issued the following statement:

University of Memphis student-athlete James Wiseman has decided to withdraw his lawsuit against the NCAA and the University. The University supports the decision, as it believes it is in James' and the men's basketball team's best interests to resolve his eligibility issue expeditiously through the NCAA process.

In order to move the matter forward, the University has declared James ineligible for competition and will immediately apply for his reinstatement. Pending that notification, James will be withheld from competition but will continue to practice with the team.

The NCAA is fully aware of the unique nature and challenges in this particular case, and the University is confident that the NCAA will render a fair and equitable decision consistent with its mission. 

Spoiler alert -- it will be shocking if the NCAA renders a fair and equitable decision.

Sorry Warriors fans, but you probably won't be able to watch the 18-year-old phenom again this season. Neither will Golden State's front office:

Wiseman -- who is listed at 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds -- averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in his first three games with the Tigers, while shooting 77 percent overall and over 70 percent from the free throw line.

The Warriors currently sport a record of 2-10, and it's not inconceivable that they end up in position to draft Wiseman in June.

So why is he ineligible exactly? As ESPN's Jeff Borzello writes:

The school acknowledged last week that [Penny] Hardaway, before he became the Tigers' head coach, provided $11,500 in moving expenses for Wiseman and his family to move from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017. At the time, Hardaway was Wiseman's AAU coach and would then coach him at Memphis East High School. Hardaway, a Memphis alum, was considered a booster due to a $1 million donation he gave the school in 2008 to build a sports Hall of Fame.

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Wow. Hardaway is nothing short of a monster and Wiseman should never be allowed to play basketball again.

That's obviously a joke, and it's a complete joke that Wiseman can't suit up for Memphis right now.

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