Consecutive victories against Dallas and the L.A. Clippershave the Warriors upward trending these days, and they get a chance to keep itgoing Tuesday against the Kings in Sacramento.Although the Warriors remain in 13th place in theWestern Conference, they are only three games behind the Houston Rockets, whocurrently hold the eighth and final playoff spot.The Warriors are one of four teams in the playoff chase with21 losses. The Warriors (17-21) have played just 38 games, the fewest of anyteam in the NBA.The Kings are in Game 4 of a nine-game homestand and so farhave won two of three. Here are some things to watch for when the Warriors playthe Kings on Tuesday: Tyreke at 3: Kings coach Keith Smart hasbeen playing Tyreke Evans at small forward in recent weeks, allowing IsaiahThomas and Marcus Thornton to handle the backcourt duties.Evans has played mostly point guard and some two guard inhis two-plus seasons in the league. How the Warriors match up will likely bedetermined by who starts for them.Currys status: Its unclear what thestrategy is with point guard Stephen Curry and his troublesome footankle, butone thing that seems certain is Curry is unlikely to play big minutes.And that doesnt matter if he starts or not.Curry hasnt played more than 24 minutes in a game in morethan three weeks, and he played just nine minutes against the Clippers onSunday.Currys availability and whether he starts if he does play is something coach Mark Jackson hasnt been announcing till just beforetip-off. When Curry hasnt been starting, Jackson has gone with DominicMcGuire.High-scoring twos: Monta Ellis and MarcusThornton are each capable of having big scoring games. Whichever player has thebetter, more efficient shooting night will go a long way toward determiningwhich team wins.Continue road effort: The road has longbeen a killer for the Warriors, but they have been successful away from Oraclein recent weeks. In their past seven away games, the Warriors are 4-3.The teams have split two games this season, with each teamwinning on its own home court.
OAKLAND – Kevin Durant drove to Oracle Arena for his Warriors debut Tuesday night, walked in feeling good and quickly got quite the horrific surprise.
The San Antonio Spurs started knocking on the door to the place and didn’t stop until they owned it.
The Spurs barged in and took what they wanted, everything from points and rebounds to wine and shaving cream. And the Warriors, as if bound and gagged, mostly watched helplessly in taking a 129-100 beating.
“A nice little slap in the face,” Steph Curry summarized.
“We got punched in the mouth,” Draymond Green acknowledged before adding the real takeaway line, “which I don’t know if it was quite a bad thing for us.”
This brutal flogging ends talk of a historically great start resembling that which the Warriors managed last season in winning their first 24 games. This puts to rest any cloak of invincibility for which they might have been being fitted, whether in their minds of those of their fans.
The Warriors were mugged on the glass, losing the rebounding battle 54-35, with San Antonio snatching 21 on offense and turning them into 26-4 advantage in second-chance points. The bigger, slower Spurs even outscored the Warriors 24-20 on the fast break.
“I’m sure we’ll be motivated for our next game,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I think our guys were embarrassed. I know I was.”
If embarrassing seems a bit strong, this surely was nothing less than a night of utter public humility. The curtain came up on opening night and there was CEO Joe Lacob shifting and twisting in his courtside seat, like a man getting teeth extracted without anesthesia, watching his Dream Team was destroyed.
“I didn’t have them ready to play, obviously,” Kerr said.
“The first game, you want to come out and protect your home court with the energy of the home opener to live throughout the game,” Curry said. “And we didn’t do anything to let that happen.”
Curry's numbers were not awful, at least not in the grand scheme of things. He posted 26 points, four assists and three rebounds – but added four turnovers.
And Durant, who started the game 4-of-4, delighting a crowd that had visions of 3-pointers raining from above, also submitted a glossy stat line, finishing with 27 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.
But the Warriors were dragged across their own floor. Oracle Arena has been their sanctuary for two full seasons, during which they posted a 78-4 record.
The best they can do now is 40-1.
“No one is satisfied with the way they played tonight, especially myself,” said Klay Thompson, who scored 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting. “In the long run, this will benefit us. It’s a long season, and not everything is going to be perfect from the jump.”
So, no, the season is not over. Not even close. Remember, LeBron James’ debut with the Miami Heat six years ago ended with an 88-80 loss, followed by seven more losses in the next 16 games.
But it’s always alarming when someone storms into your house, looks you in the eye and takes what they want.
Opening night for the Warriors delivered a painful reminder that regardless of how imposing they might be or how many All-Stars are on the payroll, nothing will be given. Effort and desire, as they discovered, can be more than a great equalizer.
The Warriors now know that victory is not preordained, that if they want the glory and the spoils they believe to be theirs, they will have to prove it. Every night.
The Golden State Warriors wasted no time dismissing one of the 95 Narratives for this season – namely, the one that has them gunning secretly for 82 wins.
In a game very reminiscent of last January’s 120-90 win over San Antonio, the Warriors played the role of “90,” or to be more specific, “100” in a richly deserved 129-100 mauling. They provided a fiercely anticipatory and Beyonce/Jay-Z-enriched crowd everything they came to see – in the Spurs.
Kevin Durant? Did swell. Won a lot of hearts. Draymond Green? Had bursts of good and moments of not. Stephen Curry? Numbers but not a lot of impact. Klay Thompson? Didn’t shoot well, and didn’t do much else to mitigate that fact.
But the real failures came not from the individual components but the sum of their parts. A disrhythmic offense that highlight moments obscured too infrequently, an undistinguished defensive effort across the board, no bench presence of any kind, a casual attitude toward possessions in general and an almost dogmatic refusal to engage in rebounding skirmishes – in sum, they exhibited a severe pre-title hangover nine months before the fact.
So with all that as prelude, coach Steve Kerr attacked the media horde with a squinty-eyed “Anyone got any good jokes?”
And knowing that nobody did – at least none better than the game that had just been concluded -- he got down to the duties of the postgame presser. He broke the ice with the throwaway platitude (“I didn’t have them ready to play, obviously”), the dismissive swat (“I think they were embarrassed tonight. I know I was”), the quick nuts-and-bolts analysis (“We missed easy shots, didn’t get a lot of loose balls, second efforts, third efforts, and we didn’t play with much physicality”), said the collective performance was massively inadequate at best (“’Strength In Numbers,’ it’s got to be about the group”), and the one dagger that will be the emphasis of Wednesday’s unpleasantness (“We didn’t really look engaged, like we were taking for granted that things were going to go well”).
Which brings us to the box score, where the locals were outrebounded, 54-35 (20-8 on the offensive end), outscored on second chances (24-4), and crushed by the non-starters (54-16 points, 24-6 rebounds). Durant had a less effective game than Kawhi Leonard, Green had a less impactful game than LaMarcus Aldridge, and Curry and Thompson were not as dynamic as second-year shooting guard Jonathon Simmons, local deadeye Patty Mills and the forever-young Manu Ginobili.
In short, it was not a coming-out party for the new dynasty, but a reminder that this is not last year, or the year before, and the Warriors are not nearly the finished product they seemed to present in 2014-5 or 15-6.
Their rotation is still a work in progress, and their combinations are even further away still. Kerr has been saying as much all summer and fall, and logic supports the fact that all teams take time to coalesce.
This is not to say they are going to be minus-29 bad; that would be, well, typical morning-after media analysis, for all fetid air that is worth.
But tonight was a good bucket full of icy well water to everyone’s sensibilities. Just as a year ago, the Warriors have been crowned champions by far too many amateurs before the rite of succession has even begun, and Kerr just received all the fodder he needs to drive home an early-season rebuttal to the ones most in need of hearing it: His players.
As for anyone else who needs to hear such a lesson – well, narratives don’t die that easily. The Warriors are the most covered team in NBA history (imagine the Bird Celtics or the Showtime Lakers in this era), and their failures will resound as much as their triumphs, and it’s all background noise come April 15.
You know, when the season actually starts.