Can Warriors push Bobcats' losing streak to 14?

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Can Warriors push Bobcats' losing streak to 14?

Programming note: Bobcats-Warriors coverage begins on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area with Warriors Pregame Live  at 7 p.m. Stick around after the final buzzer for Warriors Postgame Live.

There will be letdowns.

The Golden State Warriors, as good as they’ve been, are still strides away from elite and even the elite teams have disappointments.

After taking their second loss to the Sacramento Kings this season on Wednesday night, the Warriors return home to Oracle tonight to face the Charlotte Bobcats at 7:30 p.m.

Coming off the team’s worst defensive performance of the season in a 131-127 loss to Sacramento, the Warriors will face the Charlotte Bobcats, the league’s worst defensive team.

The Bobcats are ranked dead last in points allowed this season at 104.4 per game. The Warriors are coming off Wednesday night’s season-high in points.

Taking the easy wins

Mark Jackson made it clear the other night that it was ridiculous to think the Warriors were playing down to anyone, noting after the loss to the Kings that his team “can be beaten by the best and can be beaten by the worst.”

Of the Warriors eight losses, five have come to teams with a record of .500 or less.

The Bobcats (7-18) are one of the East's worst teams and have lost 13 consecutive games entering tonight.

“Don’t have an excuse for it,” Klay Thompson said in his postgame interview in Sacramento. “Teams that we know that we’re better than, we’ve beat much better teams, some of the best in the league. So there’s no excuse.

“We’re going to have bad games. It’s a long season. It’s only December. We’re just going to keep our heads up.”

The Warriors are 10-2 against the Eastern Conference this season. A game such as tonight’s at home vs. Charlotte is essential in the Warriors' quest for that elusive spot in the playoffs.

Legs of Harrison Barnes
 
The enhanced grind of an NBA seasons isn't bothering Harrison Barnes.

Of course it's still early, but the Warriors have played eight of their last nine games on the road. For even young legs, that would seem to be an adjustment for the Warriors' first-round pick.

“It’s definitely easier being young,” the 20-year old Barnes said. “You’re always ready to go, always look forward to the next game. The back-to-backs don’t affect you as much, as you get older it probably has a bigger toll on your body.”

Barnes has averaged just 6.9 points and 3.4 rebounds in 24.1 minutes per game in December. The rookie had averaged 10.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in 28.1 minutes in November.

His last big game came to end the seven-game road trip, in Atlanta, when he scored 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting in 31 minutes.

David Lee keeps rolling

David Lee has a streak of 10 consecutive games with 20 or more points, the longest of his career and active behind only LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

Lee has been the team’s most consistent player, averaging 19..8 points and 11.2 rebounds per game this season.

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Confident in what he's built, Kerr should prioritize health over coaching

Confident in what he's built, Kerr should prioritize health over coaching

Steve Kerr has always tried to will his vicious post-surgical back into obedience, to the point of showing discomfort even with well-wishing inquiries.

And he has failed. Damned bodies, always acting out.

He wanted the nick in his spinal cord and the fluid it released to self-correct, and though nobody is sure that this is the specific cause of his absence from the remainder of the Golden State-Portland, it has been a persistent issue for the last 20-plus months.

And now it, or a related issue, may jeopardize his ability to guide the Warriors to whatever their playoff destiny is.

That he chose to surrender to the logic of pain gives us all a pretty clear indication of how poorly he truly feels. Behind his jocular exterior and the perspective that comes with it lies a series of shields that forces him to be less forgiving about himself than others. He was going to defy his actual spine by showing how mighty his metaphorical backbone is, and as if usually the case, actuality trumps metaphor.

It seems unfair, but as Kerr will grudgingly admit, fair has nothing to do with it. Fair would be a successful surgery with no lingering side effects. Fair would be the ability to do his job pain-free. Fair would be tackling the evident difficulties of meeting the expectations of the entire basketball-playing world with a clear, undistracted mind.

So there’s your fair, in a fetid heap by the hamper.

As for his quality of life, it can be reasonably assumed that he would not jeopardize that just for a second ring. He is hyper-competitive, but he isn’t reckless, or worse, nuts. That’s his call for as long as he owns his back. If he doesn’t coach again in these playoffs, then he doesn’t coach again in these playoffs, and the worst thing that happens is that we argue pointlessly about whether he gets credit for the games they play between now and the end of their season, whenever that is.

And while it seems unduly callous, to talk about how long he’ll be out or what his version of “100 percent” is or how much coaching he will do from his office, or his home, it is where this part of the conversation must ultimately go.

Mike Brown is a qualified head coach whose only real shortcoming as it matters here is his different voice in the room. To the minimal extent that this could be disruptive, there is still Ron Adams and Bruce Fraser and Jarron Collins, not to mention Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green and Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston . . . oh, and Kevin Durant. The Warriors don’t coach themselves, but they have a healthy idea of what to do, how to do it, and how to create the conditions under which those things get done.

But in a postseason that has been almost notorious for the number of players who can’t, well, play, Kerr’s absence will stand out. The Warriors will be different as a result – certainly not better, probably not materially worse, but different. Every assumption about a hand ride through the playoffs is now so much wadded-up paper, or if you must, tablet without connectivity.

And maybe that’s the real casualty here. If Kerr misses only a couple of games, then it didn’t matter that much. If he can’t come back, it will. But the NBA playoffs are as casualty-strewn in their way as the Stanley Cup playoffs are in theirs, and if nothing else, it may cause us all to assume nothing about anything.

And that includes Steve Kerr. Here’s hoping he doesn’t rush back to fix a problem that doesn’t yet exist. Here’s hoping his view goes beyond mid-June. Here’s hoping he resists the impulse to coach this team with several vertebrae tied behind his front.

As unfair as all this might be (there we go again, doing that fair stuff), he sat out once, and his team thrived because of the atmosphere he had already created. He should be confident in what he’s built, and if he can be return for the start of the next series, it should be because he is ready to, not because he feels compelled.

Implemented by Kerr, 'Warrior Way' fuels Game 3 win in Portland

Implemented by Kerr, 'Warrior Way' fuels Game 3 win in Portland

PORTLAND -- Mike Brown slid over one chair, oversaw a rousing Warriors comeback victory and showered his compromised roster with lavish praise.

They did it, he said, pointing out the work of everybody from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, to Pat McCaw and JaVale McGee in a 119-113 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Green begged to differ. He turned the finger of commendation upon Brown, the assistant coach who adroitly stepped into the shoes of ailing head coach Steve Kerr for a win that gave the Warriors a 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven first-round series.

“He was the MVP tonight,” Green said of Brown.

So, of course, Curry, who scored a game-high 34 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter to put away the Blazers, gave the game ball to Kerr.

“We’ve got his back,” Curry said. “We’ve had certain situations all year, in previous years, where players are down and you’ve got the ‘next man up’ philosophy. Same with Coach Kerr. He’s done a great job of implementing a philosophy and a strategy and an identity of how we play Warrior basketball, and even in his absence we want to kind of live up to that.”

This is the Warrior Way, every man contributing, every man mattering, and no individual hogging the accolades.

Truth be told, there were heroes aplenty in a game the Warriors yanked straight from the clutches of the loss column.

There was McGee coming off the bench providing a jolt of electricity when his teammates seemed badly in need of recharging.

There was Curry, looking lost on offense for most of the night, before zeroing in when it was needed most.

There was McCaw, the rookie second-round draft pick who again defied his youth, tap-dancing all over the stat sheet.

There was Green, blocking six shots. There was Thompson, drilling four 3-pointers in the third quarter. There was Andre Iguodala, igniting the defense during the pivotal third-quarter stretch when the Warriors wiped out a 16-point lead.

Miss anyone?

On, yes, there was at least one more contributor.

General manager Bob Myers also nudged his way into the picture. After watching Portland shoot 53.3 percent in the first half, Myers jokingly threatened to replace Brown with veteran assistant Ron Adams for the second half.

Brown and the Warriors responded by holding the Trail Blazers to 33.3-percent shooting in the second half.

No single player or coach was responsible, just as they would have it.