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8:57AM

Warriors loss ‘shows where they are’

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — This was a prove-it game for the Warriors, a game that would show when the other team was hot — in this case the Houston Rockets, that frequent nemesis — the Dubs could be as tough as advertised, prepared and ready to show what was possible.

Or maybe impossible.

A 12-game winning streak was on the line, and maybe on the Warriors’ minds, but it ended Thursday night at the Oracle in front of a sellout crowd that was as disappointed as it was bewildered. How did this happen? And was it portentious?

The night and the game seemed to last forever, starting late at 7:52 p.m. because TNT wasn’t ready, and ending at 11:06. A double-overtime that had virtually everything: comebacks, Steph Curry fouling out, Draymond Green getting a flagrant foul, Kevin Durant scoring 39 points.

Everything except a Warriors win, the Rockets holding on, 132-127.

After all those relatively easy victories the past few weeks, this was a difficult loss, especially after building a four-point lead in the first OT.

“It kind of shows you where you are,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “It’s easy to execute when you are winning by a lot of points. Under pressure with a tough game, you’ve got to execute better.

“That’s on us and our staff to do a better job of getting our guys ready into some things that they will be comfortable with down the stretch.”

The Warriors are all too familiar with the Rockets, who each of the last two years they outlasted in the playoffs on the way to the finals. Particularly the sleight-of-hand of James Harden and the muscle of Trevor Ariza.

What they didn’t know was how two new additions, Ryan Anderson, the 6-foot-10 forward from Cal who had been with New Orleans, and Eric Gordon would fit in. Perfectly, it turned out.

Anderson is astute and alert, and shoots like a smaller man. He had 29 points, the same as Harden. The Rockets moved the ball beautifully and got key rebounds after an occasional missed shot.

Curry, meanwhile, was failing early. He had five points and three fouls at halftime. And although recovering enough to score 28 points, Steph was only 9-of-22 and 4-of-13 on threes.

“They did a good job of switching,” Kerr said of the Rockets. “They outplayed us. They deserved to win.”

Harsh words for Warriors fans who, with the team’s acquisition of Durant as a free agent, possibly believed the championship that got away in 2016 would return in 2017. The Dubs are now 16-3 and obviously vulnerable.

“We started the game off slow,” said Durant, who was 12-of-28, “and let them get some confidence. They got a lot of long rebounds.”

So after the Warriors would force a missed shot, Houston came back for another shot and didn’t miss. At one point, the Rockets would be up by 10. All the shouts of “Defense, defense,” from fans properly distressed by the game’s direction, didn’t help much.

“We did not play well,” Kerr said. “We got off to a horrible start. We didn’t move the ball very well. We had our moments, especially in the first overtime. We had a real cushion, and I thought we let it slip away when we had every opportunity to finish them off.”

But they couldn’t, and they didn’t.

“We can compete with anybody,” said Harden. He draws fouls — he was 11-for-11 from the line. He draws boos.

“It’s a huge win for us,” said Harden.

Not a huge loss for the Warriors, but a reminder there is more to the NBA than the Cleveland Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs.

“They make it tough,” said Durant of matching up with Houston. “They stretch you out, and they have James (Harden) handle the ball a lot, well all game. He’s good at making plays. They have shooters.”

Shooters who shot down the idea that the Warriors would just keep winning.

9:45AM

Winning Warriors at home in road jerseys

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — Was watching the Warriors. You know, the basketball team that keeps trying all those little tricks, like wearing road uniforms at home to keep the opposition off balance and — certainly — to hope the fans buy another set of jerseys or T-shirts.

There were the Dubs on Saturday night in their slate, sleeved tops, and the Minnesota Timberwolves in white, as if Oracle Arena had been moved to Minneapolis. Had me fooled for a while.

Hey, that wasn’t Steph Curry throwing them up from the outside, was it? Not certain. Time to look at the scoreboard.

No fooling there. Another Warriors victory. Eleven in a row, this one by a score of 115-102. The Dubs are now 15-2. When do the playoffs start?

The idea that acquiring Kevin Durant as a free agent would make the visiting — sorry, dark jerseys, home team — virtually unbeatable is making a great deal of sense, as Durant, Curry, Klay Thompson and the rest are, well, virtually unbeatable. 

And Saturday they won without Draymond Green, out with a sore ankle. Maybe Dray, one of the NBA’s better defensive players — yes, a bit restrained with the accolades, as it’s still only November — would have kept Zach Levine from scoring 31 or Karl-Anthony Towns from getting 18, but that’s academic.

As it was, the Warriors’ Big Three indeed were a big three. Curry with 34 points, Durant with 28, Thompson with 29. And as Dubs coach Steve Kerr pointed out about the points, they came from inside as opposed to outside. Only 22 three-point attempts, 11 of those successful.

“We missed Dray,” said Thompson, “missed his defense and passing.”

And his exhorting and shouting. “The rest of us had to raise our voices to make up for it,” said Thompson. Most likely he was serious, but with the Warriors one never is quite sure how to take a comment.

They are a fun bunch, and for good reason. They’ve got the routine down, almost to perfection.

A quick start, a minor stumble, a halftime lead and then a victory, whatever the spread. But fans never get bored by wins. Neither do coaches or players.

Maybe the league ought to force the Warriors to sit out a starter every game until January. With Green missing, Kevon Looney, the team’s first-round draft pick in the championship year of 2015, started at what used to be known as power forward but is now called the No. 4.  

“Our spacing was very different,” said Kerr, if the results are not. Looney had six points and two rebounds. “I thought he played well,” said Kerr. Yes, just plug in another star and keep the machine running.

Then again, for the first time in 11 games, they failed to record 30 assists, getting only 25. Horrors!

Kerr is thinking about the future, the postseason, as are most of us. “We are interested in the process, and what we are doing,” he said when asked if any win, by one point or 20 points, was equally satisfying.

“We know, when games in the spring come, what it takes. We’ve been there the last two years and succeeded once and failed last year ultimately. We felt what the games are like in the playoffs, so you try to prepare for that in the regular season.

“You focus on the process. Try and win the game, but focus on the things that you know you have to get better at.”

Not much, one presumes, especially now that Durant is part of that process.

“The only thing we told him,” said Kerr about Durant, “was that he was going to guard Towns. We knew Looney could do a good job, and he would start on hm. But we told Kevin (Durant) he would have some minutes on Towns. I didn’t tell him anything else. He knows the game. I thought he was spectacular.”

No matter what color the jersey.

9:07AM

Curry calls his NBA record ‘pretty cool’

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant combined for 46 points Monday night. Or the same as Stephen Curry scored by himself. The MVP indeed was shooting like an MVP.

After shooting, what, blanks? On Friday against the Lakers, he had a streak of 157 consecutive games with a three-pointer come to an inglorious end, going 0-for-10. On Monday, at Oracle Arena, he began a streak of one game with a three-pointer and, oh yes, made 13 of them overall, an NBA record, out of 17 attempts.

“This is a pretty cool,” said the very cool Curry. “To have the three-point record is really special, although it probably won’t last long the way the guys shoot these days.”

What didn’t last long was Curry’s shutout streak and, no less importantly, the Warriors one-game losing streak, Golden State defeating the stubborn New Orleans Pelicans 116-105. Since it was the Dubs ninth in a row over the Pelicans, you might add, as usual. If there’s anything usual in pro basketball.

Only a few days ago, people were questioning if the Dubs, the gang that couldn’t shoot straight, were ever going to make one from the outside, which over the last three seasons is what they always could do.

But if others panicked, Warriors coach Steve Kerr did not. Kerr hardly was pleased with the teamwork or defense, but as he reminded pre-game it was inevitable the ball would begin to go through the hoop. Shooters may lose their touch momentarily, but soon enough they’re successful.

Monday night was soon enough for the Warriors, who made 50 percent of their field goals (45 percent on threes). Curry was 16 of 26 (and only one of two on free throws). Klay was 11 of 20 with 24 points and Durant 8 of 17 with 22 points.

“You just have to keep shooting,” said Curry about lapses, “stick it out.”

“The ball’s going to go in.”

Kerr, certainly, expected that to occur. He was a shooter from long range on the Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan. He may be impatient about sloppy play, but Kerr won’t complain about missed shots because he knows eventually the shots won’t miss.

“That was quite a show,” said Kerr of the Curry exhibition. “I’m not at all surprised.”

Nor is anyone in basketball.

Curry didn’t hit his first three until four and a half minutes were gone. But he had two more before the first quarter closed and was also three of four in the second quarter. “Pretty quickly I thought he was on,” said Kerr.

Four more threes in the third quarter and three more in the fourth gave him one more than the record of 12 three-pointers achieved by Curry himself, Donyell Marshall and Kobe Bryant.

“When he’s going off like that,” said teammate Draymond Green of Curry, “you don’t really have to try to find him. He’ll find a way to get a shot off. That’s for sure. But one thing about that, when he’s got it going you set screens. You’re usually the person who gets open because (the opponents) are so scared of him coming off a screen it starts a chain reaction and (starts) our ball movement.”

Alvin Gentry is the Pelicans' head coach. He used to be Kerr’s assistant on the Warriors. He knows Curry all too well.

“I think he’s a decent shooter,” was the Gentry tongue-in-cheek understatement of Curry. “The only mistake we made is we ran at him a few times and didn’t run him off the line ... If he would have had an average game, we would have had an opportunity to win.”

Average? Curry was average in the last game, not making a single three. Something was wrong. The correction was immediate.

“We let him go in the first quarter for the most part,” said Kerr. “He was really carrying us.”

Curry said he was down on himself after the Lakers mess. He practiced harder than usual coming into Monday night. “I wasn’t thinking about 0 for 10 tonight, really,” he said.

Now he and the Warriors can think about 46 points and 13 three-pointers. Much more satisfying.

9:19AM

S.F. Examiner: Kevin Durant was simply magnificent against Oklahoma City

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

This is what the Warriors wanted and the fans, Warriors Nation, if you will, expected, Kevin Durant playing not so much against his former teammate Russell Westbrook, and that literally is what he did. But also playing against Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and even his new teammate, Steph Curry.

This was KD unleashed, unstoppable, almost unbelievable, although if you’ve noted what he’s done in the past, and what Curry and Klay Thompson have done when they get a basketball in their hands, nothing seems unbelievable.

Read the full story here.

©2016 The San Francisco Examiner

8:16AM

S.F. Examiner: Golden State reminded of why you play the games

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

Very clever of the Warriors, trying to con the NBA into thinking they aren’t the best basketball team ever created. But it won’t work. We all know the NBA championship is theirs, and all they have to do is throw their Nikes, adidas and Under Armours on the court and they’ll win in a walk.

So they lost their very first game of the 2016-17 season, 129-100, to the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle. So a considerable portion of the sellout crowd left early.

Read the full story here.

©2016 The San Francisco Examiner 

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