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9:25AM

S.F. Examiner: Defense wins championships — and the Warriors look like champions

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

OAKLAND — Steve Kerr wasn’t in the building. His back pain, the headaches, the nausea, wouldn’t allow him to be at Oracle. But his game plan was here Tuesday night, the relentless defense he and his staff continually preach and the gold-shirted crowd screams for the Warriors to play.

“Defense. Defense.” It’s what the fans chant. Defense, defense: It was what the Warriors played. The Dubs got the ball in the basket often enough, but when the other team, in this case the Utah Jazz, has a final total in double figures, the Warriors winning the opener of the Western Conference semis, 106-94, the reason was defense.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner

10:08AM

S.F. Examiner: JaVale’s journey brings him to Golden State, benefitting both parties

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

OAKLAND — The pregame questions carried a sense of worry and a hint of panic. Kevin Durant wasn’t going to play, and my goodness, what were the Warriors going to do without him? Play basketball, of course, as brilliantly as demanded.

You thought otherwise?

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner 

10:15AM

S.F. Examiner: Andre Iguodala settling into familiar role for Warriors: Being important and impactful however he can

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

He’s the man who goes unnoticed until you can’t stop watching him, the guy who gets his teammates’ — and his coach’s — praise, but rarely gets the headlines.

Andre Iguodala’s problem is not that he isn’t a key component of the Warriors but that he’s not Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson. Or Draymond Green or Kevin Durant.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner

8:17AM

S.F. Examiner: In uncertain times, Steve Kerr finds pride in NBA’s inclusiveness

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

The question was terribly appropriate for Steve Kerr, a man of the world as much as the basketball court.

On this Saturday evening of contradictions — the Warriors honoring one group of immigrants to America, the Chinese, wearing jerseys with Mandarin letters, while the nation had been ordered to ban other groups of immigrants — Kerr was asked if he had any thoughts on President Trump’s decisions.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner

9:28AM

Draymond: “We wanted to beat them”

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — Sure, it’s January and not June, as if that matters. And to Draymond Green and the other Warriors, it doesn’t. Will this one, this unmitigated stomping of the defending champion, the team that stole the crown, if you will, have an effect on the NBA finals six months down the long and winding road? Well ...

The basic rhetoric is that it won’t. Then again, it might. Look, the Dubs grabbed this one by the throat, did everything — and I mean everything, played defense, played offense, rebound aggressively — about as well as imaginable Monday night and overwhelmed the Cavs, 126-91, at the Oracle.

And after four straight losses to Cleveland, the last on Christmas Day as the Warriors fell apart in the final quarter, the other three in the playoffs, any win counted — wherever or whenever.

“I don’t think it’s about losing the last four,” said Draymond Green. “They want to beat us, and we want to beat them. That’s enough.”

And Monday, Martin Luther King Day, it was plenty. If that wasn’t the best game of the year, all things considered, including the opponent, it was a reasonable facsimile.

It was one that had fans begging for more — hey, the Dubs were up 39 and people were booing the officials’ calls — and had Warriors coach Steve Kerr using words like “phenomenal” to describe the performance. It even had the players allowing that they were satisfied, it not elated.

As for the Cavs coach, Tyronn Lue? He was defensive because of the way the Warriors played defense and Cleveland did not (the Dubs shot 50 percent, the Cavs 35 — “They missed 57 shots,” said a gleeful Kerr).

“What do you want us to do?” Lue asked rhetorically. “I mean they beat us. We lost one game ... I didn’t expect it like this.”

Now that Kevin Durant is a member of the Warriors, maybe he and we should expect it like that. The Big Three, Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, is now the Big Four. And center Zaza Pachulia, who had 13 rebounds (as did Draymond) is not to be dismissed.

“When you try to take Klay and Steph out of the game,” said Lue, ”you’ve got someone who can go get a basket for himself, and at a high level, too.”

He also can keep someone, such as LeBron James, from getting a basket, Durant blocking James at the rim, a move that sent shockwaves through the Cavs and generated an explosion of noise from the crowd.

Green also had his hand in this one, because on a LeBron fast break he put his hand, and arm, on James. Boom. James went down, the fans went crazy, and there was a question whether Green might be whistled for a flagrant foul as had happened in the finals, when he had kicked one of the Cavs.

Play stopped while the refs viewed videos, and Green was given a technical, but that was about it. Other than message, if indeed there was one.

“I fouled to stop the break,” said Green “and he went down. Yeah, I think it’s a rivalry.”

What James, who was 6-of-18 for 20 points, thought was that the Warriors are “a dangerous team.” 

He didn’t mean physically dangerous, although for a moment there that appeared to be the situation. ”They’ve got so many different options,” said James.

The options Monday resulted in Klay scoring 26, Durant 21 and Curry 20. Along with his 13 boards, Green had 11 assists, as did Curry. This is the way coaches draw things up.

“I thought Steph was great,” said Kerr, “a phenomenal first half (when he had 14 points and 10 assists). His energy was great and he set the tone. He put a lot of pressure on the defense. Defensively, to put that kind of pressure on and to rebound as well as we did, we were finishing possessions.

“We wanted to win. We weren’t happy with our Cleveland game on Christmas Day. Any time you’re facing a team you know is one of the best in the league, you’re going to be up for it. We definitely were up for it.”

That‘s important any month of the year.