The Warriors once again look like the favorites to win the NBA Finals this season. At 40-11, they are heads and tails above every other team in the league. But throughout the course of the season, they have shown that they can be beaten—and even blown out—when they don’t put forth their best effort.
Back in late October, the Warriors sustained a 111-101 loss to the Grizzlies in Memphis, just days after knocking off the Rockets in their season-opening game. In late November, Golden State got trounced by the Thunder 108-91 in Oklahoma City. And earlier this month, the Warriors got their rear ends kicked at home by the Clippers 125-106 in a game that featured Lou Williams going off for 50 points. It doesn’t happen often, but those teams have shown that, if you catch the Warriors on an off night, you can give them a taste of their own medicine.
On Tuesday night, the Jazz were the latest team to unexpectedly beat up on the Warriors. Ricky Rubio notched a double-double with 23 points and 11 assists and Joe Ingles knocked down a career-high six three-pointers on his way to 20 points as Utah jumped all over Golden State at home en route to a 129-99 win. The 30-point loss was the Warriors’ worst loss of the season so far.
After the game, several Warriors players tried to explain what happened. Kevin Durant, who scored 17 points during the contest, put a lot of the blame on himself. He admitted to not doing a very good job on the defensive side of the ball while guarding Ingles.
“I can’t let Joe Ingles get loose on 3s like that and expect us to play well on the road, especially in here,” KD said. “I got to start off the game better if we want to win games.”
Steph Curry, who scored just 14 points on 1-for-7 shooting from behind the three-point line, wasn’t happy with the way his team played as a whole. He revealed that, during the fourth quarter, he told Draymond Green it was one of the worst games he’s ever seen the current Warriors team play.
“I asked Draymond on the bench in the fourth quarter if he could remember that bad of a performance that we’ve had in recent memory,” Curry said, “and we really can’t. You can’t just show up, especially on the road, and expect to win. That’s kind of cheating the game.”
Green, meanwhile, was slightly less concerned than his teammates were about the Warriors’ putrid performance. He said he actually thought the Warriors were going to pull off a massive comeback at some point. And even though they weren’t ultimately able to do it, he didn’t sound too worried about what the loss would mean for his team in the long run.
“I'm just foolish enough to believe that we always have a chance,” Green said. “So even going into that fourth quarter, I'm like, 'OK, here we go. All right, here comes a run. They're playing great, but they can't really get over 16, 18. We can cover that really quick. Here we go.' It just ain't never happen for us. So it's cool.”
But Warriors head coach Steve Kerr wasn’t as forgiving as Green was. He attempted to light a fire under the Warriors by blasting them for their “pathetic effort.” He also referred to the “disgusting basketball” he saw them play while speaking with reporters after the game.
“We just didn’t start out the game with any force defensively,” Kerr said. “We weren’t staying into bodies, they were just stopping behind screens, we were lazy on our switches. We played with no sense of urgency, no sense of purpose.”
The good news for the Warriors is that they should have a good chance to bounce back from their loss to the Jazz during their next game on Friday night. They will travel to Sacramento to play the Kings, and seeing as how the Warriors already suffered a surprising loss to the Kings during a home game back in late November, they should have absolutely no trouble getting up for the game and getting back on track.
The Warriors will follow their game against the Kings with another road game against the Nuggets on Saturday night before returning home next Tuesday night for a nationally-televised matchup against the Thunder.
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