5 keys for Warriors in second half of season

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5 keys for Warriors in second half of season

With the All-Star break in the rearview mirror, its timefor the second half of the season to begin. The Warriors begin Part II withfive consecutive road games, starting Tuesday night in Indiana.Golden State is 13-17, but coach Mark Jackson continues tomaintain the Warriors are a playoff team. If they hope to get to thepostseason, the Warriors are going to have to start piling up thewins.While theyre only three games out of the eighth and finalplayoff spot in the Western Conference, they would have to leapfrog four teamsif they hope to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07.Here are five keys to the second half of theseason:

1. Bench keeps rolling: Behind BrandonRush and Ekpe Udoh, the Warriors bench has been the teams biggest bright spot.Rush and Udoh have anchored the teams second unit, while Nate Robinson,Dominic McGuire and Klay Thompson have chipped in on a less consistentbasis.Still, the Warriors second unit has an identity andchemistry, and the team as a whole needs for all of it to continue.2. Improvement from Jackson: First-yearcoach Mark Jackson has been pretty solid in Year 1, but for the teams end-gameplay and his tendency to over-praise his players.For the Warriors to make a second-half run, hell have toget the team to play even better defense and then hell have to figure out away to carve out more wins in close games.3. Curry and Lee in crunch-time: MontaEllis game-winning jumper over Grant Hill last Wednesday to beat Phoenix wasone of only two games the Warriors have won this season decided by three orfewer points.Overall, the Warriors are 2-6 in those kinds of games. Oneway for the Warriors to win more close games is for Stephen Curry and David Lee, two of theircore players, to begin to deliver more down the stretch of games.Too often the Warriors resort to Ellis or Robinson doingthings on their own late and the results havent been good enough.4. Tighten things across board: There hasbeen no one thing that has been the Warriors bugaboo this season. One gamesits rebounding, another its turnovers, the game after that its failing toexecute offensively down the stretch.In short, the Warriors have to show improvement in theiroverall game and do a better job of taking care of the little things, asJackson calls them.5. Win on the road: Unless the Warriorscan find a way to better their 4-8 mark on the road this season, theyre notgoing anywhere. No team in the Western Conference has a bigger discrepancybetween home games (18) and road games (12) than the Warriors, which will makethe second half of the season even more challenging.The Sacramento Kings, for example, have played 21 road gamesand just 12 home games. The bottom line is the Warriors have to do somethingthey havent done for years: Win consistently away from Oracle.

Warriors All-Stars combine for 56 points, West wins

Warriors All-Stars combine for 56 points, West wins

BOX SCORE

NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis had an All-Star Game for the record books.

And on a night when Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant provided a glimpse of the past, Giannis Antetokounmpo showed he's clearly part of the future and a midcourt lob attempt from James Harden even went in, Davis absolutely stole the show.

He scored 52 points, 10 more than Wilt Chamberlain's All-Star record that had stood for 55 years, and the Western Conference beat the Eastern Conference 192-182 on Sunday night — the highest-scoring game in league history.

Davis made 26 shots and took 39, both of those also All-Star records. He even outdid Westbrook, who had 41 points in just 20 minutes — which ordinarily would have been enough to merit him what would have been a third straight MVP award.

Not this time. It was Davis hoisting the trophy, to the delight of his New Orleans fans.

"It was a lot of fun," Davis said. "My teammates did a great job of looking for me."

Durant had a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Stephen Curry added 21 points for the West — where a subplot emerged as DeMarcus Cousins played only two minutes, prompting some speculation that a trade sending him out of Sacramento might be looming.

Antetokounmpo had 30 points for the East, with 12 dunks in his night. LeBron James scored 23 points to become the first All-Star to eclipse 300 in a career, Kyrie Irving had 22 points and 14 assists, and Isaiah Thomas scored 20 for the East.

Davis became the story that overshadowed The Story coming into this game, that being the Durant-Westbrook whatever.

And if there is any animus remaining between Durant and Westbrook, it was hidden. They passed each other the ball and slapped hands in the pregame layup line, and not long after Westbrook checked into the game the former Oklahoma City teammates provided one of the game's top highlights — a give-and-go, capped by Durant lobbing the ball to set Westbrook up for a dunk.

"OH MY GOD! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?" Curry shouted on the West bench, which moments later broke into celebration. Players jumped and threw hands skyward, Curry tossing a cupful of water onto a smiling Durant amid it all.

Draymond Green called the play "cute," and Westbrook and Durant seemed happy with it as well.

"It was a nice give-and-go, man," Westbrook said. "Good give-and-go. Made a good pass. I barely got over the rim, but it was a nice give-and-go."

Added Durant: "It was a great basketball play. He was open so I threw him the lob. He can jump really high so yeah, good play."

Some fans were shouting "De-Fense!" in the fourth quarter. West center DeAndre Jordan heard them, rising from his seat on the West bench to yell "No, no, no" back in their direction.

If those fans were serious, they were disappointed.

Westbrook scored 12 points — all on 3s — in a 63-second span late in the third quarter, coming off the bench and firing over and over and over again. And then he opened the fourth quarter with another 3, giving him 34 points in just under 14 minutes played to that point.

It looked like he was a cinch for MVP honors, until Davis scored 20 points in the fourth.

TIP-INS

East: Irving also led the East in rebounds with seven. ... Kyle Lowry scored 19 points and DeMar DeRozan added 16. ... No East player logged more than 24 minutes.

West: Curry took cover in the third quarter, comically hitting the deck face-first as Antetokounmpo went in for yet another dunk. So later in the quarter, Antetokounmpo went over Curry for a rebound slam — one that left Curry staring at the scoreboard for a replay. ... Kawhi Leonard had a steal and dunk in the opening minute, a defensive display that left West coach Steve Kerr in hysterics.

EMBIID CLOSE

Joel Embiid wanted to be in the All-Star Game, and he was close — literally and figuratively.

The Philadelphia star sat on the edge of the baseline next to the West bench, meaning he got to greet players throughout the night and share a few words with some at halftime.

CELEB WATCH

A huge roar greeted Jon Batiste, who performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" pregame, when he started the song.

It wasn't for him.

That happened to be the moment when John Legend — the halftime performer — and Chrissy Teigen were shown at their sideline seats on the video screens around the arena. And a louder cheer came not long afterward when Beyonce and Jay Z got on-screen.

Among the other celebs in the seats: Guy Fieri, Dave Chappelle, Julius Erving, Alonzo Mourning, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson and The Roots.

UP NEXT

The next All-Star Game is Feb. 18, 2018, in Los Angeles, which will host for a record sixth time.

Thompson eliminated in first round of All-Star 3-point contest

Thompson eliminated in first round of All-Star 3-point contest

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson will not repeat as the NBA All-Star Game's 3-point shootout champion. 

In need of 19 points, Thompson managed only 18 -- that allowed Kemba Walker to advance into the semifinals. 

Houston's Eric Gordon had the high score of the first round. He went on to win the championship -- besting Kyrie Irving.

Thompson has made 182 3-pointers this season which ranks him fifth in the league.