For the third straight game, the Warriors tried to up the difficulty and force themselves to make an improbable fourth-quarter comeback for a win at Oracle Arena.
But they shifted their sliders too far in the opposite direction Sunday night and fell to the visiting Detroit Pistons, 115-107.
Head coach Steve Kerr said flatly that the team just hasn’t been caring:
“We finally started caring with six minutes left when we were threatened and we immediately cut it to three because we cared. But the right team won, karma was in the right place tonight.
“They outplayed us, they outhustled us, we didn’t deserve to win that game just by showing up in the last six minutes, so the right thing happened.”
While the team’s overall effort may not have showed up until the final six minutes, Stephen Curry’s shooting stroke arrived at the tip, awakened from its recent mini-nap Sunday night. The two-time MVP erupted for 20 first-half points on 8-of-11 shooting, and would finish with 27 including 3-of-7 from deep, after going just 9-of-34 from behind the arc the last three games. About the only thing he did miss was a technical free throw, which snapped his consecutive free throws-made streak at 52 straight, tying his career high.
And he wasn’t shooting alone. Kevin Durant hit a blistering 10-of-14 for 28 points — the team as a whole hit 57 percent of their shots. Yet, they found themselves behind by as much as 13 with a little less than seven minutes to go in the game.
That’s what happens when you turn the ball over a season high 26 times, which led directly to 33 Piston points.
Kerr was predictably displeased with his team’s efforts on that front:
“At some point the ball just has to matter, the game has to matter enough for us to win. Teams are coming after us every single night … if you don’t match that type of energy and play with some intelligence, some discipline, you’re not going to win.”
The effort was also missing on the glass, as Golden State allowed 17 Detroit offensive rebounds.
But to fall short in both categories in the same game is akin to having a death wish. Even though they outshot the Pistons’ efficiency by 13 percent, Detroit outshot the Warriors quantity, putting up 16 more shots during the game.
Detroit used those extra opportunities to get 45 points from their starting backcourt with Avery Bradley and Reggie Jackson shooting a combined 16-of-25 from the field, and sealing the game with a couple of defensive stops at the other end.
The Warriors have now turned the ball over 16 or more times in every game they’ve played this season, which is sure to make Kerr wake up in a cold sweat most nights.
And he said that this isn’t just simply the Warriors overpassing:
“This has nothing to do with trying to be too unselfish, this has to do with a complete lack of focus and fundamentals. We are throwing the ball all over the place, even some passes are just hitting guys in the shoes even when they’re not turnovers.”
It is what has caused the once intimidating home court advantage the Warriors had into something of a mild nuisance to visiting teams, as they have already dropped two game in Oakland, in just four attempts.
Curry joked that at least they aren’t making the same mistake over and over:
“I think the good thing is, every night is something different. I think we focus on one thing and forget about the next and vice versa. We just got to put the whole formula together at some point. Obviously we don’t want to be learning lessons the hard way during the season.”
The team that was famous for dismantling teams early, and coasting to easy victories has had to claw back in each and every game so far, and have a slightly concerning plus-3.9 point differential, good for just 10th-highest in the NBA.
It’s hard to beat NBA teams when you give away the ball.
Now, the Warriors depart for a tough Western Conference road trip, facing the Clippers, Spurs and Nuggets, kicking off when they face their Los Angeles rivals Monday night at Staples Center. Not only is it a back-to-back for the Dubs but they’ll take on a Clippers team has suffered just one loss on the season and is first in the league in opponent points per game as well as point differential.
Shaun Livingston was back with the team after missing the last contest while attending the funeral of Maverick’s player Devin Harris’ brother who was killed in a car accident last week. … Klay Thompson finished his homestand with 69 total points, bringing his total amount of money pledged to the North Bay Fire Relief to $69,000. He also passed the 9,000 career point total and became the 11th player in franchise history to reach that mark. … Draymond Green was fined $25,000 for “failing to disengage” with the Wizards Bradley Beal after Beal grabbed Green by the neck last game. Beal was fined just $50,000 for starting the altercation and escaped with no suspension, and Kelly Oubre was also fined $15,000 for his part, yet also received no suspension after running into the scrum fists flying. Green said the punishment was no surprise to him:
“I was naive enough to think that the first tech would get rescinded. Silly me to think they are going to take a tech back from me. I was also naive to think that they’d say, I got slapped and then grabbed. I don’t know what else to do at that point. They said I failed to disengage? How do you disengage at that point. That sounds like yeah we got him…I got hit and didn’t even hit back and got fined….Oubre coming in throwing punches and he get fined less than me? I know they ain’t the biggest fan of me, that’s fine but don’t be so obvious that you’re not the biggest fan of me. That’s just too obvious.”