Failure of spectacular proportions for Warriors defense

Failure of spectacular proportions for Warriors defense
January 17, 2014, 11:45 pm
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Friday was the second consecutive game in which they allowed at least 120 points. They gave up 123 to Denver in a loss Wednesday night. (USATSI)

BOX SCORE

Andre Iguodala tried and failed. Harrison Barnes tried and failed. Draymond Green tried and failed. Even double-team traps could not turn down Kevin Durant's heat.

When the world looks back at the Warriors' 127-121 loss to Oklahoma City on Friday, it will note Durant's astonishing 54-point performance, becoming the first man since Michael Jordan in 1988 to score at least 54 points, shoot at least 65 percent and pass for at least five assists.

[Instant Replay: Durant's 54 too much for Warriors]

When the Warriors look back at it, they should focus on the collection of Thunder players not named Durant – or Russell Westbrook, who did not play – who shot 53 percent.

Durant aside, this was failure of spectacular proportions for a Warriors team trying to build a reputation for defense.

“We just have to do a better job on recognizing the team’s strengths and sticking to it by making the game as hard as possible for those guys,'' Iguodala said. "Tonight you have to give OKC a lot of credit. They did a great job on playing to their strengths, getting the ball in the guy’s hands they wanted they wanted the ball in.

"We just couldn’t find a way to get a stop. Durant was attacking and he found Serge (Ibaka) a couple times on dumpoffs from the pick-and-rolls we were trapping and he made some shots that kind of made us nervous to trap him. Their bench guys came in and made some big shots for them.''

Another thing the Warriors have to note, and detest, is that this was the second consecutive game in which they allowed at least 120 points. They gave up 123 to Denver in a loss Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.

This is going to hurt, but the last time the Warriors allowed 120 points in successive games was in March 2010. The coach was Don Nelson, a legend with a legendary indifference to defense.

Coach Mark Jackson, by contrast, has recognized the improved D and led cheers for it. Two games do not a trend make, but it should be enough to stir the locker room and certainly is enough to annoy Jackson.

"We’re a good enough defensive team to give a better effort and fight a little bit harder,'' Jackson said. "(Durant) is a special talent. He’s a superstar basketball player and an all-time great and he made shots.

"But 121 points for us, offensively, is enough to win ball games. That’s the disappointing part about it.”

That's more than enough for a good defensive team, or a team playing good defense. The Warriors were neither on Friday night.

THE GOOD

The Splash Brothers got it going early and did their part to keep pace with Durant. Curry finished with 37, Thompson with 26. This was one those rare games in which both shot well: 20 of 35 overall, 12 of 19 from 3-point distance.

The bench was surprisingly productive, outscoring OKC's reserves 35-30, with Marreese Speights and Green each putting in 10 points.

THE BAD

The defense was bad beyond words. The Thunder exposed just how bad it can be when center Andrew Bogut is off the floor, which was most of the night. When Bogut missed five consecutive free throws in the first half, the last an air ball, OKC was ready to hack him at every turn.

Second-year forward Harrison Barnes, obviously gifted, was the worst player on the floor: 18 minutes, no points, no rebounds, no assists, two turnovers and five fouls. What on earth has happened to HB?

THE TAKE 

That noise heard around Dub Nation is an alarm, an ear-splitting reminder of how far this team has to go to earn its defensive bona fides. The Warriors have a problem they must solve, and that is summoning at least a modicum of interior defense when Bogut is off the floor. When Lee or Speights is the ``big,'' opponents see that as an invitation to come into the house and take whatever they want.

 

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