No panic visible from Warriors; is it hidden by the smoky air?

By Art Spander

OAKLAND, Calif. — You stop by Warriors practice and expect to see a lot of panic — that is, if panic is visible through the smoky, unhealthy air — but you’re disappointed.

There’s Kevin Durant, ignoring his $25,000 fine for “directing inappropriate language toward a fan” in Dallas and ignoring the media, popping jumper after jumper.

There’s Steph Curry, who seemingly is unable to stand up and definitely won’t be in Wednesday night’s game against Oklahoma City, bouncing balls off his head in a soccer routine.

And there’s head coach Steve Kerr, loser of three in a row for the first time since who knows when, sitting behind a microphone and in front of the cameras, and handling every question the way his team of late has not been handling the basketball: smoothly.

For the Warriors, this was the week when if the sky didn’t fall it sank a little, unlike the Warriors' field goal attempts at San Antonio. When the façade of love and understanding had a few holes. When Kerr, who Tuesday pointed out he was trying to defuse the situation with his comment, saying, “This is the real NBA.”

The league of big men and big egos, of small mistakes that decide games, of teams so balanced that a good shot or a bad bounce is often the difference in a game — although it’s invariably the better team that makes the good shot.

“We haven’t been in the real NBA the past couple of years,” was Kerr’s addition to the opening statement, after the defeat at San Antonio on Sunday night. “We’ve been in this dream, and now we’re faced with adversity.”

Meaning the groin injury to Curry, who when he's on the court can decide any game from any distance; meaning the toe injury to Draymond Green, of whom Kerr said, “This guy’s been so good; we’re not hanging any banners without him.” Meaning, certainly, the feud (or dust-up, or contretemps, if you will) between Green and Durant in L.A. a week ago. Meaning the frequent references to Durant’s impending free agency and rumored departure to the Knicks, or worse, the Lakers.

Sometimes the best view is from a distance.

Marc Stein, the longtime NBA observer now writing his perceptions for the New York Times, said, “Crisis is probably too strong a word, given that they remain prohibitive favorites to win the championship in June, but the Warriors have been undeniably wounded by a spate of injuries and last week’s sideline spat between All-Star forwards Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.”

The injuries will heal, or at least one expects them to heal, but who knows about the rift? Nobody on the Warriors wants to discuss it.

“Don’t ask me that again,” Durant responded to the San Jose Mercury News’ Mark Medina after the loss against Houston in the opener of the lose-them-all three-game trip in Texas. So nobody did. From the Bay Area media.

But when the Dubs hit the road again, Durant will be hit by that question again, whether it’s unfair or not. The subject is out there, and it’s not going to go away, until — Warriors fans, take a deep breath — Kevin goes away.

This is November, miles away from the playoffs. And from the end of Durant’s contract. What the Warriors need at the moment is to play the defense they have been playing and the offense they haven’t been — at least in getting routed by Milwaukee at home and being held to 92 points in San Antonio.

“Without Steph and Draymond,” said Kerr, “we can’t get away with things we do when we have them. We were 10-1. Last year, we were the best team defensively of any in the playoffs.

“We have been on a run over a four-year stretch. Nobody ever won as many games as we have the last four years. There’s been a lot of things going right for us.”

Right now, they’re going quite wrong.

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