OAKLAND -- Last offseason, the Warriors signed Dorell Wrightwith the idea being hed be a very good perimeter defender. Maybe not an elitedefender or a lock-down one, but a pretty darn good one. After all, that washis strength in Miami, where hed spent the first six years of hiscareer.But Wright was a worse defender for the Warriors in his oneseason than he ever was playing in Miami. And if coach Mark Jackson and theWarriors hope to make good on their promise to actually defend, then Wright isgoing to have to be at the forefront on that.And he sure wasnt last season.You know, I definitely slacked a little bit as far as mytechniques, Wright said of his defensive slippage. I was allowed to gamble alittle more. Thats why my steals were up. I was able to get into the passinglane.Were going to be a lot more disciplined. That was the teamwe had with me and Monta (Ellis) on the wings. We were able to read plays. Butsometimes that gets you hurt.Jacksons intention is to make the Warriors morefundamentally sound on defense, but that will require players to improve significantlyon their individual defense. Certainly in the effort department.Predictably, the Warriors have spent the majority of theirsix or so hours of practice working on that end of the floor.Defense has been the bulk of our teaching so far, Jacksonsaid. Today we put in a couple of our sets. The guys understood it, we wentthrough it. Mostly defensively because I believe defensively is where weregoing to make the biggest improvement, the biggest jump. And were going to bedisciplined on both sides of the ball. But I would say 90 percent (of our time)has been defense.The real issue, of course, isnt the amount of time Jacksonand the Warriors spend on defense, its whether he can get the entire team tobuy in.This team certainly has a history, Jackson said. You win36 games I think youre well aware its time to change things.
In the wake of a 119-108 Warriors win over the 76ers Monday night in Philadelphia, Stephen Curry had a ready explanation for his 0-of-11 shooting 3-point distance.
He didn’t properly account for the change in weather.
“The weatherman said it’s like a low-pressure system that was coming in (and) I forgot to adjust to the thickness of the air,” he told reporters at Wells Fargo Center.
Curry’s comment may open to interpretation, but it was clear his sense of humor remained intact even after a career-worst shooting night beyond the arc.
He wasn’t the only Warrior finding it difficult to score from deep. Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green combined to go 5-of-20. The Warriors were 6-of-29 from deep, their second-lowest total of the season.
“It’s weird,” he said. “Not to discredit anything they did. The first half we had a lot of open looks that didn’t go in. Klay made a couple down the stretch. KD made one. Draymond made one from the corner.
“Other than that we still took really good shots that didn’t go in. But for us to still have moxie to withstand that and still pretty much have the lead the whole game and allow our defense to get us a win tonight was kind of our M.O.”
Given that Curry owns the single-game record for triples (13) as well as the single-season record (402), it was most alarming that he couldn’t find at least one. And he had opportunities.
“It happens but you have to try and find other ways to impact the game,” he said. “I was trying to get to the paint a little bit more and just try to make plays. One thing is I don’t get down on myself. Obviously, that’s why I got 11 of them up. I still have confidence the next one is going in and that will stay the same tomorrow.”
The Warriors face the Wizards Tuesday in Washington. In Curry’s last appearance at the Verizon Center, last Feb. 3, he went for 51 points. He was 11-of-15 from deep.
“What I love about Steph is he went 0-11 tonight from three but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at his face,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He never loses confidence; he never hangs his head. It is a sign of a guy with ultimate confidence in his ability and the awareness that it is one of those nights.
“He is likely to come out tomorrow and make about seven in a row at some point. So that’s what I love about Steph. He keeps playing.”
In the hours before tipoff Monday night, Warriors coach Steve Kerr fielded questions about Draymond Green, who not only played well beneath his standard in the previous game but also exhibited a couple flashes of temper, including one directed at Kerr.
“He had one of those nights; it just wasn’t his night,” Kerr told reporters in Philadelphia. “Things didn’t go his way. He was frustrated. I’m very confident that tonight he’ll bounce back.”
Yes, he did. One game after allowing his emotions to undermine the best of his game, Green pushed his personal reset button and drove the Warriors to 119-108 victory over the 76ers.
It was a rather predictable performance insofar as Green generally responds to poor games by making a statement of his strength.Or, should we say, strengths.
Though the numbers -- 14 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, five steals, a plus-22 over 37 minutes -- tell a significant story, Green’s impact, as usual, extended beyond statistics. He set a strong positive tone, and when he does that it can offset subpar performances by his teammates.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who can play,” Kerr said afterward. “So on a night like tonight, where Steph (Curry) doesn’t have it going, we’ve got plenty of other guys who can score and make plays and a lot of them came through.
“I thought Draymond was really the player of the game. He just brought incredible energy and set a good tone right from the beginning of the game.”
On a night when Stephen Curry’s shot abandoned him (0-of-11 from deep, 7-of-23 overall), Green scrambled to provide whatever was needed, when it was needed. He was particularly adept at setting his teammates, as evidenced by his game-high assists total.
“One guy can’t do it every night,” Green told reporters. “Two guys can’t do it every night. Sometimes, it’s got to be a complete team effort. Tonight, it was that.”
The Warriors shot 41.7 percent through the first three quarters and 44.9 for the game. The Sixers battled them to a virtual standoff on the glass. The Warriors got by mostly with free throws (33-of-39) and Green’s effort and smarts.
That Green is a difference-maker in unconventional ways, often beyond the box score, is what makes him unique.
And it’s what makes it easier to cope with those nights when he’s as much of a headache to his team as the opponent, as was the case Saturday, when was 1-of-10 from the field, had more turnovers (three) than assists (two) unleashed some frustrations.
“Draymond’s value to us is his defense and rebounding and basketball IQ and intensity,” Kerr said before the game. “His shot is going to come and go. He’s going to have games where he makes some threes. He’s going to have games where he doesn’t. But it really doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is everything else that he does for us. That’s where his real value comes in.”
Kerr clearly was confident that Green would revert to being his customary self. Green can create waves, which result in turbulence along the journey, but on the vast majority of occasions, he’s there for his teammates and his coaches.