OAKLAND Warriors coach Mark Jackson has shown in recentgames hes not afraid to use his second unit to finish out games. In two of thepast three games both against Sacramento Jackson played his substitutes incrunch time.On Monday, Jackson spent the majority of his post-practiceinterview talking about that approach. Heres the interview:Question: Is it possible to get moreintegration between the first team and second team. In other words, is itpossible not to go with either all the starters or all the subs at the end ofgames?Mark Jackson: Not really. The idealsituation is youre giving your starters a breather and youre expecting to goback to them. Towards the end of the third, make a substitution, a couple ofsubstitutions with Ekpe (Udoh) going in and Brandon (Rush) going in (for twostarters). Thats integration as far as Im concerned. Bottom line, once youve got the other three guys out Ultimately, that second unit duplicated what they did in the previous matchup(in a win over Sacramento on Tuesday). They were the better unit.Question: Why couldnt Dorell Wright getback into the game in the fourth quarter and overtime. He looked like he wasplaying well (24 points in 28 minutes)?Mark Jackson: I guess there are differentinterpretations of extremely well. (The Kings) had 34 points in the thirdquarter. I would argue the case that nobody played well. You give up 34 pointsin the third quarter and they dominate on the offensive board, you may besatisfied. It may look good to somebody else, but to me, we lost the gamebecause of turning the ball over, not rebounding the basketball and not gettingback in transition. And giving up 34 points was a huge part of it.Question: Is it possible for your team togive up 34 points in a quarter and one or two players not be on the hook forthat?Mark Jackson: Yes, yes its verypossible. Dorell played extremely well offensively and looked like his oldself so its nothing against him. That second unit -- it would be awfully foolish of me to take any of them outand look to get anything. I knew what I was getting from them. Sacramentoscored 15 points in the fourth quarter.We got back in the ballgame. To me it wouldnt be a smartmove at all putting anybody in the game whether theyre playing great or not.That unit was in sync on both sides. We were scoring and getting stops. Wefound ourselves with the ball, in control down the stretch. So to me that wasthe right way to go.Question: Do you feel it might bebeneficial in the future to get a mixture of starters and bench players?Mark Jackson: That unit has played greatand theyve forced me to stay with them. In an ideal world, Id go back to mystarters. I look forward to the day where my starters are getting it done. I can say to my bench: Youvedone your job, now starters finish them off. My hand has not been forced thusfar.Question: What Im getting at more is acombination of Mark Jackson: I know what youre gettingat. When five guys play to the level that we expect on both sides of thebasketball, then that day will come. But Im not going to throw guys on thecourt because its time for them to go in.No, its time for you to get stops, run back on transition,compete on a level that we talk about competing at. And thats where Im at asa coach. Question: Whats the message you want tosend to the starters?Mark Jackson: Its really not a message.The message is watching. The same team that just scored 34 on you, somehowcant score against the five guys on the floor. I dont have to send a message.And were sugarcoating it if we believe its anything else. Those five guysthat finished the ballgame somehow limited the guys who were dominating us onthe glass, limited the transition points and took care of the basketball andfound a way to score.It would be foolish of me to try to put somebody else in oranother group in to create what I just stumbled into and found.Question: Could there be a message evenif you didnt want to send a message a message to the starters that you dontbelieve in them?Mark Jackson: No. The proof is in thepudding. I believe the game before that I stuck with them. I have confidence inwhoever does what we practice and preach about doing, that the results willcome. Thats where my confidence is. Not the names on the jerseys, not whos,but whoever is doing what we talk about doing. I have confidence that theresults will come and those guys will be on the floor.Question: But isnt the second unit justa better defensive unit than the first unit?Mark Jackson: Heres my question: Are youwatching? And Im not insulting you. Are you watching the energy, the effort,the focus, the attention to detail, the commitment? Are you saying they both goabout it the same way? Therefore I have no choice. Theyre committed (secondunit) and they find a way to play like their lives depended on itQuestion: If both the first unit andsecond unit reach their defensive potentials, I would say the second unit is going to be a better defensiveunit.Mark Jackson: I wouldnt say that. Iunderstand youve got a defensivestopper in Dom (Dominic McGuire). I think hes the lone defensive stopper onthat second unit. If youre talking about Ekpe (Udoh), he was part of the groupthat was dominated by Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins. Somehow those guysunderstand their flaws and they tie into together and buy in as a unit.Question: So, thats what the first unithas to do find a way to be better defensively as a group?Mark Jackson: I think they do it attimes, no question. But weve got to find a way to do it consistently in orderto have the results we want.Question: How can they learn how to do itconsistently if they dont get back into games to get to do it?Mark Jackson: The good news is they havea chance to do it. I dont start the game with the team that ended the game. Sothey have every opportunity to get it done and Ill ride with them forever.Whoever it is. To me, as a coach, the bottom line is getting wins and gettingthe job done. I dont care who does it. Ive got nothing but love for each andevery one of my guys. I love both units. But in fairness to this team, thisorganization and this fan base Ive got to put the guys that are getting afterit on the floor.No matter how it is perceived in terms of talent notmatching up. I know what it takes to win. Somehow going with that group, got usback in the ballgame, put us in a position to win it and sent the game intoovertime with everything go against them to start.Question: Is that battle worth losing thewar over?Mark Jackson: What war?Question: That if youre going to makethe playoffs the starting five is going have to do it. Conventional wisdom isthe five off the bench cant get you to the playoffs.Mark Jackson: Let me tell you something,Im not that guy. Im not going to sit and watch guys go through the motions,guys not execute, guys not battle and just score points and ha-ha,hee-hee.No, the fact of the matter is Im here to win. I know whatwinning basketball looks like and Im not going to have guys out there notdoing what we talked about doing.The proof is in the pudding. We watch film, we talk aboutit. This isnt an individual thing, this is a collective thing. That first unitwasnt getting it done, and theyll be the first to tell you that. And Id be afool as a coach to put them out there just so we can score 105 points and loseand say Yippee, they ended the game. Not going to happen.
PORTLAND -- Still suffering with chronic pain after multiple back surgeries nearly two years ago, Warriors coach Steve Kerr will step away from his duties for an indefinite period.
Kerr made the announcement Sunday afternoon, one day after he was unable to attend Game 3 of the first-round playoff series against the Trail Blazers at Moda Center. He conceded the possibility he could miss the rest of the postseason.
“This past week for whatever reason, things got worse,” Kerr said from the team hotel. “My symptoms got worse. And I was not able to coach. The last few days have been difficult.
“With things getting worse, I just made the decision I couldn’t coach. As of now, I’m consulting with my doctors. I’m hoping for some improvement. If I can get some improvement, I’ll get back on the sidelines. But I’m not going to do that unless I know I can help the team.”
Assistant coach Mike Brown, a three-time NBA head coach who guided the Warriors to a 119-113 comeback win in Game 3, will serve as acting head coach during Kerr’s absence and will be on the sideline for Game 4 Monday night.
No matter what happens, Kerr said, he plans to assist in game preparation and remain involved with players and staff for the duration of the postseason.
“At this point in the season, we all have a feel for our team,” Kerr said. “Early in the season, it probably wouldn’t have been that way. It’s great that we’ve had the year together. It’s great that Mike has coached in this league 10 years and has coached in The Finals. He knows what he’s doing. The team is in great hands regardless.”
While spending Game 3 at the team hotel Saturday watching the game with his son, Nick, Kerr pointed out that some of the substitutions he thought should be made were, in fact, made seconds after crossing his mind.
Kerr said he did feel somewhat better Sunday than he did on Friday and Saturday.
Kerr has been coping with severe side effects since the summer of 2015. Though he has said his back was improved by the surgeries, a spinal leak has resulted in frequent headaches and neck pain.
Two days into training camp in September, barely a month after his second surgery in seven weeks, he took an indefinite leave of absence, returning Jan. 22, 2016 and coaching the final 39 regular-season games as well as the postseason.
But after laboring through 2016 training camp and the regular season -- often wearing a pain patch on the back of his neck -- the chronic anguish never went away, being by turns uncomfortable and excruciating. Kerr made it through only the first two games of the postseason.
He clearly was in discomfort during Game 2 Wednesday night at Oracle Arena and felt no better after an off-day Thursday. During his post-practice news conference Friday, before the team flight from Oakland to Portland, Kerr constantly shifted his body and grabbed his head.
Kerr was unable join the team for shootaround Saturday morning, and four hours later the Warriors announced Kerr would not attend Game 3.
“This is not going to be a case where I’m coaching one night and not coaching the next,” Kerr said. “I’m not going to do that to our team, to our staff.
“We’re hoping that over the next week or two, whatever it is, I can sort of make a definitive realization or deduction, or just feel it, that I’m going to do this or not.”
Kerr has tried various pain-killing drugs, as well as medicinal marijuana, in hopes of alleviating his chronic pain. Nothing so far has provided consistent relief, and some medications that have helped were offset by nausea and other side effects.
Kerr is in the third year of a five-year contract signed in May 2014. His 207-39 regular-season record is the best in NBA history by any coach over a three-year span.
Programming note: Warriors-Blazers Game 4 coverage starts Monday night at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.
The Warriors hold a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series with the Blazers after Saturday's 119-113 win.
For the first time this series, the Warriors went up against Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, who returned from a leg fracture. Nurkic started and played a total of 16:40 in Game 3.
In his return, the "Bosnian Beast" was a non-factor on offense. He only scored two points, but did grab 11 rebounds. And his return was even shorter than expected.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts ruled Nurkic out for Game 4.
Nurkic averaged 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in 20 games for the Blazers after Portland acquired him in a trade with the Nuggets.