Kerr's 'great timeout' refocuses Warriors, fuels win over Kings

Kerr's 'great timeout' refocuses Warriors, fuels win over Kings

SACRAMENTO -- Eighteen seconds into the game, before the Warriors had attempted a shot, or even taken possession of the ball, coach Steve Kerr called timeout and immediately summoned his players to the bench.

Kerr wanted to discuss defense and focus, neither of which was present when Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins spun around Zaza Pachulia and pranced toward an unguarded rim for the kind of dunk usually seen in a layup line.

Though the Warriors acknowledged their negligence -- it was mentioned right before tipoff that if Cousins got the ball on the block, there should be help -- but it wasn’t until late in the second quarter that they unleashed a fully focused defense.

And once they did, it took all hope out of the Kings, who were emboldened by building a 16-point lead midway through the second quarter, only to have the Warriors trim it to seven at by halftime and completely take over with a 22-3 run in the third quarter.

“We knew they couldn’t sustain that throughout the game,” Kevin Durant said Sunday night, after scoring 28 points as the Warriors completed a 117-106 win at Golden 1 Center. “You saw the third quarter. Their legs got a little tired, we were more physical and we got out and ran.

“That’s the formula for us.”

When the Warriors (32-6) use stingy defense to trigger transition offense, they’re nearly impossible to beat. They shots come more easily, and they go in more often. They are 19-0 this season when they shoot 50 percent, and chances of doing that rise dramatically when they’re forcing turnovers and getting into the wind.

“I’m not saying we’re invincible at all; we’ve proven that (we’re not),” said Stephen Curry, who scored a game-high 30 points, his third consecutive game with at least 30. “But it gives us our best shot to allow our talent on the other end to shine.

“A lot’s been said about our fourth quarter offense and execution and lineups and whatever, but if we can work through that while getting stops on the defensive end and using the length and activity that we usually have on that end, we’ll be alright regardless.”

The Kings (15-22) shot 52.3 percent in the first half, and were close to 60 percent before the Warriors held them to 1-of-6 from the 4:14 mark until halftime.

The Warriors took command after intermission, outscoring the Kings 39-22 in the third quarter, forcing five turnovers (leading to six points) while holding them to 31.3-percent shooting.

The offense simply held up its end of the deal. The Warriors shot 54.3 percent in the second half, with balanced scoring. In addition to Curry and Durant leading the charge, Klay Thompson put in 18 points, Zaza Pachulia tossed in 10 and Draymond Green added 9, while also contributing his usual combo line of statistics, including 10 assists and seven rebounds.

It was enough that the Warriors were able to continue their NBA-record streak of games without back-to-back losses, now at 124.

Yet it goes back to Kerr, calling the quick timeout and demanding the team to do as it had been coached.

“I knew exactly why, when he called it,” Green said. “Zaza did his job and nobody was there to help. It definitely made a statement.”

Said Kerr: “We gave up a back-door lay-up on a play that we had just talked about and there was a scheme that we blew,” he said. “So, we just had to talk about it.”

Asked if he’d ever seen a coach call a time 18 seconds into a game, surely the fastest Kerr ever has, Durant considered his nine-year career before responding.

“No – no, but that was a great timeout,” he said. “We said we were going to double from the baseline on Cousins and we didn’t do it. And it was unacceptable to Steve. Great timeout. Got us going.”

Spurs beat Grizz, advance to face Rockets in Western Conference semis

Spurs beat Grizz, advance to face Rockets in Western Conference semis

BOX SCORE

MEMPHIS, Tenn -- Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points, and the San Antonio Spurs advanced to the Western Conference semifinals by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 103-96 Thursday night to take the series 4-2.

The Spurs now have beaten Memphis four of the five playoff series between these teams, and this was San Antonio's second straight win over the Grizzlies in the first round.

Tony Parker added 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Patty Mills had 10 points off the bench for the Spurs. San Antonio outrebounded Memphis 46-28, with 16 of those offensive boards. That led to 17 second-chance points.

Their semifinal with Houston will start Monday night in San Antonio.

Mike Conley scored 26 points, leading the five Memphis starters in double digits. Marc Gasol added 18, Zach Randolph 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Vince Carter had 12 points.

The Grizzlies fell to 3-10 in elimination games, losing six straight.

This was a taut game with 16 ties and nine lead changes, especially with four ties in the fourth quarter.

The Spurs took control after the Grizzlies went up 88-81 on three free throws from Conley with 6:29 left. Then Leonard scored eight straight for San Antonio, starting a 22-8 run to finish the game.

Even with Conley and Gasol a combined 2 of 10 in the first quarter, the Grizzlies trailed only 24-22 after Conley knocked down a 3 at the end of the quarter for his first bucket of the game. Conley hit another 3 for the final shot in the second quarter, putting Memphis up 50-45. The team that led at halftime won each of the first five games.

Parker hit his first six shots before finally missing his seventh with 29 seconds left in the first half.

The Grizzlies took their biggest lead at 57-47 on a 3-pointer by James Ennis III. That gave Memphis as many made 3s (9 of 17) as the Spurs had attempted (3 of 9) at that point. Randolph's layup with 7:19 left matched that 10-point lead at 63-53.

Then the Spurs went on a 13-3 run over a 4-minute span to erase that lead on Aldridge's three-point play at 67-66. Aldridge finished with nine points in helping the Spurs lead 75-74 at the end of the quarter.

TIP-INS

Spurs: They improved to 36-15 with a chance to clinch a series under coach Gregg Popovich, who took over in the 1996-97 season. ... Manu Ginobili converted a four-point play with 1:31 left in the third, putting the Spurs up 73-69. ... The Spurs wound up tying the Grizzlies' reserves with 16 points thanks to Mills.

Grizzlies: The Grizzlies set a franchise record hitting eight 3-pointers in the first half, topping the previous mark of seven in the second half May 1, 2005, against Phoenix. ... Conley has 20 or more points in five straight playoff games, the longest such streak in franchise history.

FREE THROW WATCH

Memphis coach David Fizdale earned a $30,000 fine from the NBA for his "Take that for data" rant about the free throw discrepancy in Game 2. Well, Leonard was 9 of 10 at the free throw line through three quarters compared to the Grizzlies' 7 of 8. The Spurs were 18 of 20 through three quarters. The Spurs finished 22 of 25 compared to 20 of 24 for Memphis.

Warriors GM Myers 'very, very confident' Kerr will return to coaching

Warriors GM Myers 'very, very confident' Kerr will return to coaching

Steve Kerr did not coach in Game 3 or Game 4 against the Blazers and is out indefinitely.

On Thursday, Warriors GM Bob Myers spoke with Jim Rome about Kerr's situation.

“What he’s going through right now is not a product of stress, it’s not a product of coaching, it’s more a physical issue that will be solved," Myers started. "When it will be solved, no one can say. But it is solvable, it’s fixable and like I said, he’s going to coach, but right now he just can’t.

"There’s some things that need to be corrected. But I think he’ll get back. I’m very very confident he will be back coaching, I just can’t say when.”

Kerr was not at practice on Wednesday and is consulting with specialists at Stanford this week.

Kerr is finishing up Year 3 of the five-year deal he signed back in May 2014.

"I think this guy is going to coach for a long time, because he thoroughly enjoys it," Myers said. "He really loves the game, and he is a great teacher. And you’ve had him on, I’m sure you’ve met him and talked to him. It’s one thing to know the game, but he has the ability to communicate it and our players clearly respond.

"So I can see that’s why a question you’d ask I totally get it and other people have asked but no I think he’s going to be in this game for a long time, we just have to get him back healthy now.”

The Warriors' next practice and media availability is on Friday.

The next series against the Jazz or Clippers will start on either Sunday or Tuesday.