OAKLAND – The Warriors that took the floor in the second half Thursday against the 76ers were very different from the group that spent most of January terrorizing the NBA. This bunch was disconnected to such a degree that futility surfaced.
“We weren’t there mentally and we weren’t there competitively and we got what we deserved,” coach Steve Kerr said after a 113-104 loss to the 76ers. “They totally outplayed us in the second half. We should have had a much bigger lead at halftime, but we got really careless and then they took it to us in the second half.
“We weren’t ready. We didn’t respond with competitive desire, intelligence and execution. We got what we deserved.”
Nobody among the Warriors could point to this game with a healthy measure of pride. Here are some of the positives and negatives from the game that snapped their win streak at 11 games.
Third quarter collapse was the difference
For much of Kerr’s tenure as coach, the Warriors have used the third quarter to deflate opponents with merciless defense and a blizzard of 3-pointers. This time, that formula was turned onto them. The Warriors were up 10 with 10:06 left in the quarter and down two with 5:59 left. They were down nine when the quarter ended andnever recovered.
When Philadelphia unleashed its muscle and drive, the Warriors responded not as a team but as a bunch of individuals. Sixers not named Joel Embiid shot 76.5 percent. Warriors not named Stephen Curry were 6-of-16. Game.
McKinnie, in a pinch, did OK
It was less than an hour before tipoff when the Warriors announced that Klay Thompson was ill and would miss the game. A few minutes later, it was decided that forward Alfonzo McKinnie would replace Thompson at shooting guard.
McKinnie went from anticipating 15 minutes off the bench to maybe 30 as a starter. He scored 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field, 1-of-2 from the line. A decent 3-point shooter, he did not attempt one. Playing 27 minutes and the only starter not to commit a turnover, he was a team-best plus-2.
If anyone can be spared blame, it’s McKinnie. He beat tough circumstances.
With Kevin Durant, Curry and Thompson on the roster, the 3-point shot is part of this team’s identity. For a full 43 minutes, though, only one Warrior had success. Curry was 8-12 through three quarters. His teammates were 0-of-15.
Kevin Durant dropped one with 4:52 left in the game for the first non-Curry 3-ball. That was it. Curry ended up 10-of-18, his teammates 1-of-20. And this was against good – not great defense by the 76ers.
The Warriors can beat some teams without relying on triples. The 76ers are not one of those teams.
Curry maintains blistering pace from deep
Curry’s 10 3-pointers – as part of a game-high 41-point outburst – gives him 213 triples this season. He has played 40 of the team’s 51 games. Averaging 5.3 3-pointers per game would put him at about 375 for the season. His single-season record is 402. No one else has made more than 276 (Thompson in 2015-16) in a season.
It would be a lot easier to love the 10 triples if they weren’t accompanied by six turnovers.
The Process defeats Boogie
DeMarcus Cousins had an impressive first five games as a Warrior. He was, by most fair assessments, ahead of schedule. He remains a work in progress, however, and this was profoundly apparent against 76ers big man Joel Embiid.
Embiid had 26 points, 20 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Cousins had 7 points, six rebounds, six assist and three steals. Embiid, by a clear margin, was the dominant presence.
Cousins knew this would be his toughest test thus far. It was. He learned how far he has to go to get back to his previous level.