Warriors

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in preseason-opening loss to Lakers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in preseason-opening loss to Lakers

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Draymond Green warned us this would happen.

In the Warriors' first game at Chase Center, the team made good on all the concerns that NBA observers had entering the season, losing 123-101 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

Golden State's thin frontline was outworked by Anthony Davis -- who finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes in his Lakers debut -- while guard D'Angelo Russell struggled from the field in his first game with the Warriors. 

On Thursday, Green hinted the Warriors had a long way to go to find cohesion. Less than 24 hours later, his team proved his words true.

Here are the takeaways from Golden State's first preseason game.

Steph scores, but D'Angelo doesn't

Stephen Curry looked to christen the new building in perhaps the only way he knows how: attempting a long 3-pointer near midcourt 22 seconds into the contest. The shot didn't hit the rim -- it air-balled -- but Curry found a rhythm, finishing with 18 points, three rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes of duty. Curry's offense was needed as the Lakers jumped to an 11-0 advantage. 

While Curry played well, Russell struggled, finishing 2 of 9 from the field and a team-worst minus-24 in the contest.

With Klay Thompson out until at least the All-Star break, the Curry-Russell tandem will have to work for the Warriors to stay in contention. Russell has All-Star talent, so it would be easy to chalk this up as a one-off performance. 

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Little size, big problems

Entering the season, Golden State's frontcourt was expected to be thin. And with Willie Cauley-Stein, Kevon Looney and rookie Alan Smailagic out Saturday, struggles came as expected.

Through the first 24 minutes, the Warriors were outrebounded 34-26, as Davis -- the Lakers' prized summer acquisition -- bullied Golden State's frontline on most possessions. Omari Spellman also mustered just six points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field for the Warriors.

Without Kevin Durant, the Warriors' margin for error is thin, and there's no bigger sign of that than in their frontcourt. To remain in contention for an eighth consecutive playoff berth, they'll need more from their unproven frontcourt, and performances like Saturday's cannot happen.

Rookies gauged

With Smailagic out, Eric Paschall and Jordan Poole were the only rookies to suit up for the Warriors. Poole showed flashes, scoring eight of his 17 points in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer. Meanwhile, Paschall played solid, finishing with 11 points, three rebounds and 3-of-7 shooting from the field.

In the small sample size, there wasn't much to take from either player's performance that we didn't already know. Paschall put in yeoman's work similar to his college career, and Poole isn't afraid to shoot under any circumstance -- a refreshing sight, and one we haven't been accustomed to seeing from recent Warriors draft picks.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 108-100 loss to depleted Pelicans

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 108-100 loss to depleted Pelicans

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Coming into town to face an injury-depleted team on the second night of a back-to-back set, the Warriors appeared to be in reasonably good position win their third game of the season.

Instead, they took their 12th defeat – and seventh in a row.

The Warriors, nearly as diminished by injuries, took a tip-to-buzzer 108-100 loss to the Pelicans on Sunday night at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

Four players scored in double figures, led by Eric Paschall’s game-high 30 points, but the Warriors (2-12) were outrebounded and outshot, particularly from the 3-point line by the Pelicans (3-10).

Here are three takeaways from a defeat that saddled the Warriors with their longest losing streak since they dropped eight straight in April 2012:

Defense rests, is burned by triples

The Warriors displayed signs of coming out of their defensive malaise in taking the Celtics down to the wire two nights ago. Outrebounding Boston allowed them to better set up their defense, and the results were encouraging.

That level of defensive aggression and execution didn’t make the trip to New Orleans.

The Warriors were particularly vulnerable defending the 3-point arc.

The Pelicans, who entered as the fifth-best 3-point shooting team the league, took advantage, launching at will. They drained nine triples in the first half, as JJ Redick, one of the more proficient deep shooters in NBA history and undoubtedly on the scouting report, repeatedly got open looks and buried five 3-balls before halftime. He scored a team-high 26 points.

That New Orleans shot 39.1 percent (18-of-46) from deep is clear evidence that any defensive progress displayed by the Warriors two days earlier against a quality opponent went into deep regression against an inferior team.

More points for Paschall

With D’Angelo Russell out of the lineup, the Warriors have an urgent need for scoring. Enter Eric Paschall.

On a night when offense was hard to come by, Paschall kept the Warriors in the game early, with 24 points through the first three quarters, when no other Warrior had more than 11.

Operating both inside and outside, Paschall’s 30 points came on 10-of-17 shooting, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. He also was 8-of-10 from the free throw line. Playing 35 minutes, he also grabbed seven rebounds.

Paschall now has two games with at least 30 points, four with at least 20 and nine in which he scored in double figures.

The powerfully built rookie is, at this point, the team’s most effective scorer. In effect, he has become the Warriors’ go-to guy.

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Waiting for Jordan

The Warriors drafted Jordan Poole in the first round June believing he had the goods to become their next great deep shooter. His work in the preseason did little to argue against that.

But it’s not happening in the regular season, and this night was the latest in an ever-extending line of futile performances.

Coming off the bench for the second consecutive game, Poole was scoreless over 23 minutes, with 0-of-7 shooting from the field, including 0-of-3 from beyond the arc.

If ever there was a game when his scoring touch was desperately needed – and surely would have made a difference – this was it.

Warriors to use Ky Bowman, Draymond Green in D'Angelo Russell's place

Warriors to use Ky Bowman, Draymond Green in D'Angelo Russell's place

The Warriors got some bad news when D'Angelo Russell's MRI confirmed a sprained right thumb that will keep him out of the lineup for at least two weeks, but their coach actually was a bit relieved.

"I was concerned that it was going to be worse," Steve Kerr told the media Saturday, "so a couple weeks, you know, we can handle. If this had been something more severe, we would have been in some real trouble. So, we'll deal with it and I'm glad it's not worse. We look forward to getting him back, but in the meantime, we've got four games on the road. We've got to figure out a way to hold down the fort."

Golden State will play the first of those four consecutive road games Sunday in New Orleans against the short-handed Pelicans, and Kerr has a plan for how the Warriors will fill the point guard spot in Russell's absence.

"Draymond [Green] will play a lot of point, and Ky [Bowman] will have the ball in his hands quite a bit," Kerr said. "We're down to nine players, and really only two real guards I would say, with Jordan [Poole] and Ky. So our wings are going to have to handle the ball quite a bit, and Draymond is really good in a facilitating role anyway, so Draymond will handle the ball quite a bit."

Bowman, who is on a two-way contract, didn't seem phased by the promotion.

"I just go out there and play my role," Bowman said. "That's scoring, that's defense ... just play my role."

The Warriors didn't expect to rely on Bowman as much as they have in the early part of the season, but they've had to out of necessity with the injuries to Russell, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Despite being a consistent member of the rotation, he conceded that people ask him more about his teammates than his own experience.

"What are the players like, really," Bowman replied when questioned as to what fans ask him. "What is Draymond like. That's what everybody wants to know."

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Perhaps they'll have some different questions for him over the next couple weeks.