Kerr on Warriors' effort in huge loss: ‘I can’t explain it’

By Art Spander

OAKLAND, Calif. — Maybe this is the year the Dubs become the flubs. Maybe they’ve lost a little something — for sure Wednesday night, they lost something in a big way, a game.

Or maybe what happens in November and December doesn’t matter all that much, even when you get overwhelmed.

Tim Legler, the onetime player and now an NBA analyst for ESPN, pointed out that for the Warriors, champions three of the past four years, what counts is how they play in April and May, the playoffs. And June, certainly.

And yet the way the Toronto Raptors, with the best record in the league, crushed the Warriors 113-93 has to mean something, to the Raptors and the rest of the NBA — and perhaps the Warriors. Ouch!

“I can’t explain it,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, alluding to what he perceived was a lack of effort.

A couple of weeks ago on the other side of the border, Toronto edged the Warriors in overtime, and one could argue that, hey, you get to OT on the other team’s home court, just wait ‘til they meet in Oakland. OK, we waited. Wow!

The Warriors couldn’t score — they were 6 of 26 on three-point attempts. The Warriors couldn’t stop the other team from scoring. The Raptors shot 48 percent overall and were 9 of 28 on threes.

This was the Dubs' single worst game since Kevin Durant signed up in the summer of ’16. And a good thing he was there. Kevin was the only one of the Dubs able to do anything offensively, going 13 of 22 for 30 points.

Steph Curry? He was 3 of 12, 10 points; Klay Thompson, 7 of 17, 14 points.

“Came out with right intentions,” said Curry. And the right history. The Warriors had won 13 straight over Toronto at the Oracle. But outside of a brief 7-4 lead, they didn’t have a chance.

“Didn’t make shots early in the game,” said Steph, “and I think it affected our energy a little bit. We tried to talk our way through it, but they played well. They played aggressive. They got into us early. Most of our open shots didn’t go down. We didn’t have any rhythm.”

Or much else.

“We really didn’t bring the level of intensity that we needed until the start of the third quarter,” said Kerr. “That was the first sign of life with our defense, but at that point we were swimming upstream.”

Lifeguard, help.

The Raptors didn’t even have their best player, Kawhi Leonard, who was ill, and someone wondered if the Dubs let their guard down, albeit Leonard is a forward.

“No, I don’t think that was the case,” said Kerr. “I just think we didn’t quite have it. I was just one of those nights you would hope you would be more engaged and more energetic playing against this team.

“We are in a place where we are defending a title and defending sort of a mantle that we have had for several years. It’s a different vibe. It’s a different feeling when you are on the climb like Toronto is, like Milwaukee is.”

Indeed, the Milwaukee Bucks also were able to destroy the Dubs, 134-111, also at Oracle, at the beginning of November. Draymond Green was missing from that one. He was present and accounted for Wednesday.

“They played better,” said Green, who had only two points but also seven assists against Toronto. “They made shots. We were taking the ball out of the net every time. It’s kind of hard to get pace that way. Their defense was really good. A big part of their defense was the offense.

“They just broke our defense down. We just got to be a little better making an adjustment. That’s not on the coaching. That’s on us as players.”

The assumption is that, by defeating the Warriors in the only two games they’ll play during the regular schedule, the Raptors would have the advantage if they meet in the NBA finals.

“I would think we had the edge at this point,” countered Kerr, “now that they kicked our butts twice.”

Maybe when swimming upstream, one loses a sense of perspective.

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