24 Mar 19
OAKLAND — Without their engine that makes everything move smoothly, the Warriors suddenly had a machine that did not work.
The Warriors labored through a 126-91 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday at Oracle Arena in what marked the most lopsided defeat of the season. The obvious reason partly pointed to Stephen Curry sitting for rest purposes.
While Curry sat after playing 49 consecutive games this season, the Warriors no longer had their star that makes long 3’s, command double teams and generates easy shots for others. The Warriors also played as if they lacked any star talent to absorb rest nights for Curry, Shaun Livingston and Andrew Bogut. Such has been life for the Warriors this season. They have gone a combined 5-7 without Curry, which included an 11-game absence from a left groin injury and Saturday’s absence for rest purposes.
“It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks or what our guys felt,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Steph is not there. He has been playing night in and night out and needed a rest. He’s been beaten up. That’s how it goes.”
Without Curry’s gravity, Klay Thompson did not have the same amount of catch-and-shoot opportunities to thrive as a scorer (eight) and shooter from the field (4-of-13) and from distance (0-of-4). Without Curry’s scoring threat, Kevin Durant suddenly became inefficient (25 points) from the field (9-of-25) and from 3 (0-of-8). After spending last season filling in nicely during Curry’s injuries, Warriors fourth-year guard Quinn Cook had only seven points on 3-of-10 shooting.
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Suddenly, the Warriors’ offense morphed from one centered on fluid ball movement to an offense that frequently stalled. They recorded only 22 assists while shooting 40 percent from the field and 13.3 percent from deep. With exception to DeMarcus Cousins (19 points on 8-of-11 clip) and Kevon Looney (12 points on 5-of-6 clip), no one else on the Warriors shot above 50 percent from the field.
“It’s really just us missing shots,” Durant said. “That’s something I cant pinpoint for everybody. But I’m confident I’ll start knocking them down soon.”
Still, the Warriors (48-23) did not fall below the Denver Nuggets (49-22) for first place in the Western Conference standings just because of Curry’s absence. The Warriors lost to the Western Conference’s second-worst team by lacking the same defensive presence that ensured four wins in the past five games.
The Mavericks (29-44) featured Luka Doncic (23 points), Dirk Nowitkzi (21), Ryan Broekhoff (17 points), Max Kleber (16) , Trey Burke (13) and Jalen Brunson (11) in double figures. Dallas shot 53 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3. The Warriors also lost on the glass (49-36).
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(Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
“It just has something to do with the fact sometimes you have games where playing against that team isn’t going to get you up,” Draymond Green admitted. “We have to find the energy somewhere else. We didn’t.”
Mindful of that reality, the Warriors’ coaching staff warned their players that the Mavericks could take what Kerr called a “free swing.” Then, the Warriors’ lost the game before it really even began. The Mavericks stormed out a 12-2 lead with 9:23 left in the first quarter after Nowitzki scored eight points on three shots and the Warriors missed five of their first six.
That start set the tone negatively the same the way the Warriors lost to Boston after trailing 12-0 and to Houston after trailing 15-0.
Incidentally, the Warriors’ recent progress stemmed from losing by four points nearly two weeks ago to Phoenix, which owns the worst record in the Western Conference. The Warriors’ latest loss proved much worse. With the Warriors trailing 108-70 at the end of the third quarter, a noticeable amount of Warriors’ fans headed for the exits.
“Defensively, we were not connected. We weren’t talking,” Kerr said. “A lot of missed communication. We couldn’t pull together after that slow start. We could never get any traction in the game.”
That the Warriors failed to gain traction against Dallas may not be surprising. The Warriors have struggled to do so just as much at home (25-11) as on the road (24-12).
The Warriors lost by 35 points to Dallas, which trumped their 33-point loss to Boston earlier this month. The Warriors have also lost a handful of marquee home games, including Milwaukee, Portland, Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and Houston (twice). Meanwhile, the Warriors won in in Utah, Denver, Milwaukee, Portland, Boston and Philadelphia. Even without Durant last week with a left ankle injury, the Warriors won in Houston and Oklahoma City.
The Warriors could not absorb Curry’s absence as well at home against Dallas.
“It’s not odd at all. I think everybody in that locker room ahs gotten their ass beat at home before,” Durant said. “I know this experience is different with how much winning we’ve done the last few years. Btu we’re still in the NBA and guys have been apart of terrible games.”
None of which left the Warriors concerned that much for a few simple reasons. They play the Detroit Pistons (37-35) on Sunday at Oracle Arena in a game that Curry will play.
Kerr said he “more than likely” will rest other players on Sunday against Detroit. But he added he has not finalized any decisions since they partly stem from developments against the Mavericks. It appears likely DeMarcus Cousins will sit against Detroit since he has yet to play a full back-to-back since returning two months ago from a left Achilles tendon injury.
Then again, maybe the Warriors will not need to rest that much against Detroit. Not after how they coasted in a sluggish performance against Dallas.
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