Why Warriors have solutions to end lull but also trouble applying them

Why Warriors have solutions to end lull but also trouble applying them

After a heartbreaking loss Wednesday in Miami, Kevin Durant came out of the visitor’s locker room pointing each finger on both hands in the same direction.

Not at his teammates but at himself.

“I’ve got to be better at setting a tone ... just being aggressive downhill and creating stuff and maybe getting to the free-throw line early to slow the game down,” Durant told reporters at American Airlines Arena after yet another sluggish start by the Warriors. “I just think I need to be aggressive, and everybody feeds off that. I’ve got to be better to start the games.”

It doesn’t matter if Durant was sincere or if he was looking for words that fit the profile of a traditional team leader. He took accountability, and that matters.

It matters even more considering we’re just three days removed from Stephen Curry saying the Warriors must work their way out of their lull and that doing so would require “a full commitment from everybody.”

And we’re just four days removed from coach Steve Kerr saying, in the wake of a home loss to the Rockets, “We weren’t prepared to play, and I’m the coach, so that’s on me. I have to do a better job getting these guys ready to play.”

Now that we’ve established the Warriors all are “on the same page,” all taking responsibility, what’s left to determine is the path toward a solution.

That should not be the easiest part of all.

It’s called effort. With a team as talented as these Warriors, that usually translates to production, which begets success. That talent, along with effort and mindfulness, explains why they have gone 32-6 over the past two postseasons.

When the Warriors really want to crush an opponent, that poor team is reduced to broken hopes and splinters.

Crush mode, however, has been absent over the past couple weeks, during which the Warriors have lost three of five. They spotted the Rockets a 15-0 lead last Saturday, let the Hornets hang around Monday before subduing them in Charlotte, and let the Heat go up 10 in the first quarter and 24 eight minutes into the second.

The Warriors came back, with a vengeance, even taking a lead into the final minute. But the 126-125 loss should be pinned on the early indifference.

“We didn’t lose the game at the end,” Kerr said. “We lost it in the first half.”

They lost by fouling too much and defending way too little, and also by missing too many shots (36.4 percent from the field in the opening quarter). Aside from Klay Thompson (21 points on 9-of-12 shooting in the first half), not much was working.

Most glaring, though, was the difference in determination between the teams. Only the Heat consistently played as if the game meant something.

“We have to start games with a little bit more intensity, just a little bit more, not passion, but more energy to bust the game open early,” Durant said. "We’re easing our way into it, trying to see how teams are going to play us. But we’ve got to put our foot on the gas early.”

Nail, meet hammer. The Warriors are going through too many first halves with the pace and desire of team practicing for season-ticket holders.

“We’re better when everybody is in attack mode,” Curry said. “Sometimes we try to ... maybe overthink it a little bit early and maybe be a little bit more choreographed, if you will, in terms of play calls and sets.”

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Nice breakdown, and maybe there's something to it. There have been plenty of stilted moments on offense early in recent games. They’re trying too hard to feed DeMarcus Cousins. They tried Wednesday to manufacture something and didn’t find a rhythm until the second half.

It very nearly was enough for the Warriors to win another game they deserved to lose. They’ve had a couple of those recently, including a 120-118 win over Miami 17 days ago in Oakland.

The Warriors have the solution. They’re speaking it. That doesn’t help nearly as much as doing it.

What Warriors do with their two-way players when held out of practice

What Warriors do with their two-way players when held out of practice

Warriors guards Ky Bowman and Damion Lee are on two-way contracts. By rule, they are allowed to be with Golden State for a maximum of 45 days.

Only games and official practices count against the limit, as travel days are not included.

The Warriors have been so banged up this season the team has had to be strategic with both players in order to squeeze as many games as possible out of them. 

For instance, the Dubs didn't practice in Houston about a month ago to preserve a day. On Thursday, coach Steve Kerr revealed that Bowman simply did not participate with the squad.

"He can't take part in team practice activity. So he can be in the building but he can't be out on the floor watching," Kerr explained Thursday evening on 95.7 The Game. "So what we do is we will have him come to the gym either before or after the team practice -- and we're doing the same thing with Damion Lee -- with one of our developmental coaches and get an individual workout.

"But they can't do the team workout or it costs us one of those 45 days."

The rules are quite strict.

"They have to watch the film separately from the team," Kerr said. "That's why we have individual coaches and developmental coaches assigned to every player."

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Bowman already has used up 28 days -- 23 games plus five practices.

Lee only has played in 11 games (plus one practice), as he hasn't taken the floor since sustaining a non-displaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his right hand on Nov. 11.

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Warriors' Eric Paschall shocked by how nice everybody is in Bay Area

Warriors' Eric Paschall shocked by how nice everybody is in Bay Area

Despite being the No. 41 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Warriors forward Eric Paschall might just be the front-runner for NBA Rookie of the Year.

The 22-year-old is averaging 17.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting just under 51 percent from the field.

But when he's not working on his game, what's he up to?

"I'm on Instagram, or I'm on Twitter, or looking at memes, or on Youtube just watching anything, or just playing video games," Paschall recently told Warriors radio play-by-play man Tim Roye. "I'm a really simple guy. Or I'm watching Netflix."

And how is the New York native adjusting to life in the Bay Area?

"One thing I definitely like about it is the weather -- it's not too cold," he said. "I've realized everybody is a lot nicer out here. Everybody says hello. I remember in my apartment building, people were just like, 'How was your day?'

"I'm like whoa. This is weird for me, especially (being) from the East Coast because everybody is so uptight. But it's really cool. I like the Bay a lot in terms of the atmosphere.

"The support the Warriors get -- it's all over the place. I like the Bay."

Well said, rook. When it isn't snowing and/or freezing cold, people tend to be in a better mood.

While Paschall seems to have found a rhythm and is comfortable in his NBA routine, his parents still are figuring things out.

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"It's wild now because I've had a few good games and now for them, they're getting a lot of attention back at home," the Villanova product explained. "Everybody knows who my parents are.

"They get questions. They kind of don't even have their own identity. (People) say, 'Oh, that's Eric's dad, Eric's mom.' That's something that they're getting used to.

"But they're enjoying it. They're super proud of me, just seeing how I'm becoming a man and a basketball player."

They should be very proud.

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