Game story for tomorrow’s paper
OKLAHOMA CITY– Perhaps it was a good thing the Warriors started one of their roughest stretches of the season against arguably the best team in the league. Getting blown out by the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-87 on Friday may be the message the hot and cold Warriors’ needed.
“It’s a wake-up call for how we need to play in games,” point guard Stephen Curry said. “We understand the situation. It’s not like we’re going through the motions, not knowing how important each night is. We’re creeping backwards now from the playoff chase.”
If that message doesn’t sink in, the thumping at the hands of the Thunder may turn out to be the first in several road beat downs. Golden State (11-16) has lost two straight. Saturday’s game at Memphis is the second of three straight against teams currently in the top eight of the Western Conference.
Oklahoma City marked the first of a stretch in which the Warriors play eight of nine on the road. Six of those nine games are against winning teams. The last four of that stretch is played over six days.
If the Warriors are to turn around their season, it’s going to take better plan than they’ve displayed the last two games. Friday against Oklahoma City, Golden State lost control of the game by allowing 38 points in the second quarter. The Thunder, led by 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists from Kevin Durant, never looked back.
Thunder sixth man James Harden scored 15 of his 25 points in the second quarter. He scored eight during a 20-9 Oklahoma City run that turned the Warriors’ 30-24 lead into a 44-39 hole.
The Warriors gave up 37 second-quarter points in Wednesday’s improbable home loss to a short-handed and fatigued Portland squad.
“Second straight game the second quarter hurt us,”Jackson said.
The Warriors trailed 58-48 at the half after shooting 38.8 percent. But instead of turning it around in the third, things got worse.
Golden State made just 4 of 20 from the field in the third quarter and turned it over five times. The Warriors went more than three minutes without a point, and nearly seven minutes without a field goal.
Robinson ended that drought with a driving layup, and the Warriors trailed 76-65 with 3:04 left. If they close the quarter well, they’re still in the game and have a chance to steal it.
Didn’t happen. Robinson’s layup was Golden State’s last points of the quarter. Oklahoma City closed the third with an 8-0 run to put the game away. Golden State finished at 34.9 percent shooting – and that’s with forward David Lee totaling 23 points on 8 of 17 shooting.
“We’re going to have to play harder, smarter and we’re going to have to make shots,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “We have to play Warriors basketball. We’ve got to be consistent for 48 minutes, especially on the road.”
* Curry and guard Monta Ellis had another subpar performance Friday. Both finished 4 of 13 shooting with 11 points and four assists. Curry had four turnovers and Ellis two.
“It helps when we’re both scoring and shooting the ball and playing at a high level,” Curry said. “But we didn’t have it tonight. It’s on us to play better.”
Neither had a noted impact on the game, leaving forward David Lee to carry the offensive load for the third straight game. Wednesday against Portland, Ellis and Curry totaled 12 points. In Monday’s win over Phoenix they combined for 27 points on 8-for-30 shooting.
“I don’t worry about them making shots,” Lee said. “Monta and Stephen are both great players. They are both going to do just fine for us. They were just a couple of off games for both guys. Monta has been a little sick and Steph has had just a couple off ones. I’m sure they’ll play great tomorrow night. They will both have 30 and we will be talking about how good they are. I have faith in those guys.”
* Warriors rookie swingman Klay Thompson played 23 minutes off the bench Friday, and he had more to show for it than 11 points and three turnovers.
After the game, Thompson’s right shin was so swollen it appeared to have an empanada under the skin. He sustained the injury late in the fourth quarter on a charge call. He limped out of the game with 16.5 seconds left. He said it won’t keep him out of Saturday’s game at Memphis.
“It doesn’t hurt,” Thompson said.
What probably hurts more? Being left off the Rising Stars Challenge – again.
Several Warriors were shocked when Thompson was left off out of the initial pool of 12 selected earlier this month. But, taking advantage of Lin-sanity, the NBA added New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin to the Rising Stars Challenge, an annual All-Star Saturday event showcasing some of the league’s young talents.
And Thompson was overlooked again.Miami’s rookie guard Norris Cole was added.
“I don’t know what to say to that,” second-year forward Ekpe Udoh said. “Wow. I don’t even know what to say.”
* Udoh was credited with four blocks Friday, though it might’ve seemed as if he had twice as many. Udoh now has 20 blocks over his last eight games (2.5 per average).