Draymond digs deep, wills his way to Warriors' win over 76ers

Draymond digs deep, wills his way to Warriors' win over 76ers

OAKLAND -- Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was throwing most everything he had at the 76ers, man after man after man, every available body except Kevon Looney.

And no one worked the necessary miracles except Draymond Green, who spent Tuesday night throwing every bit of himself at the Sixers. He kept coming and coming, minute after relentless minute, until Philly finally folded.

The Warriors prevailed 106-104 because Green made them. The Saginaw, Mich. native found his offense scoring 20 points -- his highest total in three months -- but, moreover, was downright “Sagnasty” in terrorizing the 76ers with his defense.

“He led the charge,” Kerr said. “We really didn’t get after it defensively for most of the game, and then the fourth quarter was fantastic.”

The Warriors, with Green setting the tone, limited Philadelphia to 14 points on 30-percent (6-of-20) shooting in the fourth.

The Warriors had been atrocious on defense, and Green was trying to plug the leaks. After Philly shot 56 percent in the first quarter, Green, during a timeout early in the second, grabbed his teammates by their collective collar, stared into their long faces and dropped a few words on them.

“The realization is, obviously, it’s going to be a dogfight,” Stephen Curry said. “We still get everybody’s best shot. When we’re not making shots, we still need to find a way to do other things to get wins. It’s not always pretty. That was the message.”

The Warriors briefly responded, holding the Sixers to 37.5 percent in the second quarter, but they bounced back to shoot 52.6 percent in third, taking a 12-point lead into the fourth.

That got the full attention of the Warriors. It was in those desperate moments, with the Oracle crowd voicing muted disappointment in the proceedings, that every member of the team responded to Green’s call.

“The fourth quarter, the way Draymond impacted the game . . . he just kind of willed himself to another level,” Curry said. “He was a huge catalyst for us.”

Said Kerr: “Draymond is always the emotional leader, but everybody defensively stepped it up in that fourth.”

Asked about his sermon, Green said he felt it necessary to remind guys that they’ve been “in a little bit of a rut,” and that the only way to get out was to fight through it.

That meant, for the most part, defending as he did. In addition to 20 points and eight assists, Green also posted eight rebounds, six blocks and four steals. The last player to post his stat line was Hakeem Olajuwon on March 3, 1990, against the Warriors.

“You don’t go into a rut and then come out of it and hit 20 threes,” Green said. “It just don’t work like that. You have to grind yourself out, grind your way out of it. Tonight, we did that.

“The end of the third quarter and the fourth quarter, we realized, hey, it’s not going our way. But just put our heads down and go defend and the offense will come. Once we started to defend, everything else started to go our way.”

It was enough to send the 76ers, who led by as much as 16, out of Oakland with a defeat that had Green’s signature.

“He’s just elite defensively,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “And he’s highly competitive.”

Livingston on Kerr: 'He’s our leader ... somebody that we count on'

Livingston on Kerr: 'He’s our leader ... somebody that we count on'

OAKLAND -- Though much has been said about the agonies and challenges facing Steve Kerr, including speculation about when, or if, he’ll return as head coach of the Warriors, little has been put into words that capture the significance of his absence.

This is perhaps because it can be difficult to explain how one man is able to influence a roster of supremely talented athletes, at the wealthiest point of life, with wildly divergent personalities, at different career stages.

Veteran guard Shaun Livingston, a man who knows perspective as well as anyone in the NBA, took a moment Saturday to cut through the palaver and pity to offer a clear and vivid illustration of Kerr’s value as a man and as a coach.

“It’s just his presence, his personality,” Livingston began. “His character, the way he fits in with us. He’s kind of the battery pack, in the sense that he makes everybody go. He keeps us all (in harmony), everybody from staff, training staff, coaching staff to the players.

“He bridges the gaps, in the sense of communication, and he makes it light.”

In short, Kerr’s value to the franchise is far greater than his duties as a coach. He has an easy, breezy charisma insofar as he’s so comfortable submerging his own ego while being remarkably good at making everyone matter.

Moreover, Kerr is decidedly inclusive, explicitly emphatically open to ideas. He’s an outreach specialist whose sensibilities are contagious.

All of which helps create a sprightly and genial workplace, something the Warriors sought when they hired Kerr to replace the swaggering and dogmatic Mark Jackson in May 2014.

“Every day it’s something new, in a sense, and that’s hard to do,” Livingston said. “We’re here for six to nine months for the past couple years, seeing the same faces. So it is kind of like a job. But (Kerr) makes it more like a game and tries to make sure we’re enjoying ourselves out there.”

Kerr wants to live his life and coach basketball around four basic tenets: joy, mindfulness, compassion and competition. Maintaining a balance of the four can be difficult, especially when Kerr is dealing with the searing pain that has him on the sideline for an indefinite period.

But Kerr never strays far. His players seem to see and, more important, feel that.

Draymond Green and Kerr, each volatile in his own way, don’t always see eye-to-eye. Yet Green on several occasions has noted that Kerr “always seems to find the right thing to say, at the right time.”

Veteran David West points out that anyone who spends any time around Kerr can sense his basic humanity. Veteran Andre Iguodala, one of the team’s co-captains, speaks of Kerr’s curiosity and desire to broaden his horizons.

Stephen Curry, the other co-captain, kept the ball from the Warriors’ Game 4 win over Portland last Monday night, punctuating a series sweep, and gave it to Kerr, who missed Games 3 and 4 while coping with this prolonged post-surgery pain.

Lead assistant Mike Brown, the acting head coach in Kerr’s absence, concedes he has benefited from being around Kerr and this team.

“The tone he sets is the best I’ve been around,” said Brown, who has been involved in the NBA since 1992. “This is a special, special situation, and he’s big reason why.”

So it’s not just Livingston who throwing rose petals at the boss. He just happened to convey in a few words the effect Kerr has on the team and within the building.

“He’s our leader,” Livingston said. “He’s somebody that we count on.”

Warriors update health status of Livingston, Barnes

Warriors update health status of Livingston, Barnes

OAKLAND -- One day after every member of the Warriors participated in a full scrimmage, the official health updates were released.

Veteran forward Matt Barnes, out since April 8, is listed as probable for Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals that begin Tuesday at Oracle Arena.

Veteran guard Shaun Livingston, out since sustaining a finger/hand injury in Game 1 of the first-round series against Portland on April 16, is listed as questionable -- but with an asterisk.

“Hopefully, we’ll be ready for Tuesday,” Livingston said after a light workout Saturday.

Livingston informed NBCSportsBayArea.com earlier this week that he would have been available, hypothetically, if the Warriors were facing a Game 7.

As for Kevin Durant, who missed five weeks with a knee injury before returning April 8, only to sustain a calf strain in Game 1 against the Trail Blazers, he’s fully available.