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Observations after Warriors smothered, embarrassed in wire-to-wire loss to Lakers

© Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports


If you’re a Warriors fan, well, there were better ways to spend your Sunday night. It was nothing short of a bludgeoning. At no point in time did the Warriors appear capable of competing with the Anthony Davis-devoid Lakers. Stephen Curry was frustrated and helpless with a lack of support. Draymond Green sprained an ankle and headed to the bench in the first half. It was a 117-91 loss which somehow felt far worse than that scoreline.

Yikes

It’s games like these that really make you wonder, what on earth is this team? What’s the end goal?

They just won three-straight games for the first time this season. It seemed, even to cautious surveyors, like a cause for some optimism. Both Kevon Looney and James Wiseman—who touted his pedigree a few nights ago—are back in the lineup. Maybe they could make a statement against the Lakers.

Nope. Not even sort of close. Not in the vicinity, the area code, the realm. The Lakers had it easy.

The Warriors looked like a JV team stressing themselves out trying to prove a point. Rampant turnovers, woefully inefficient shooting numbers, and a whole lot of hair-pulling defined Sunday’s performance.

It begs the question; what’s the point of this season? Is it James Wiseman’s development? Upping Kelly Oubre’s trade value? Waiting on the Timberwolves to convey a top-five pick? A Stephen Curry MVP award?

If that’s the net, maybe it all ends up being worth it in a year or two, but what a waste of another year of Stephen Curry and even Draymond Green that would be without a playoff run to validate it.

Maybe it was doomed from the start once Klay Thompson tore his Achilles. It sure felt that way.

Or maybe this is all doom and gloom and an overreaction to a putrid loss. But if you can envision this Warriors team winning a series against the Lakers, Jazz or Clippers, I envy your optimism.

Maybe this game serves as a low point, a source of long-term motivation for this team. But it sure felt every bit like a really, really bad loss for a team that’s not all that great, and doesn’t seem destined to be. Richard Jefferson said it on the ESPN broadcast.

“I don’t think this team has a chance to win a championship or even make a conference championship run, but they can still get better.”

Gradual improvement is nice, but the Warriors are still in the Curry window and at some point, they’re going to have to make a move to get back into that upper echelon. It’s not looking like that will happen this happen this year.

What went wrong

Everything went wrong. Obviously. The Warriors couldn’t score and the Lakers scored with ease.

Here’s a quick rundown of just how wrong it went. Golden State shot 8-of-34 from three (23.5 percent), went 13-of-19 from the free throw line (compared to 26-of-38 from the Lakers) and were out-rebounded 60 to 35 (with a 14-3 offensive rebound differential). Woof.

Both teams turned the ball over 20 times, but the Warriors errors were largely a waste of early, key scoring opportunities that prevented them from getting back into the game.

Andrew Wiggins had 3 points. James Wiseman had 5 and 8 rebounds, but fouled out for the third time this season, and second time in three games.

Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre and Eric Paschall combined for 48 points. The rest of the Warriors had 43.

Perhaps the greatest insult to injury? Damian Jones! Remember him? Even he, now a Laker, was there to finish an alley-oop with less than four minutes left in the third quarter. It’s not a good feeling for the Warriors to watch that from a guy they (rightfully) moved on from literally dunk on them while down 30 for most of Sunday night.

Another Draymond Green knock

This team leans far too heavily on Draymond Green. At age 30, with the wear and tear his body has endured over the years as the heart and soul and battering ram of this team, you have to wonder how much longer any of this is sustainable.

On Sunday, he sprained his left ankle and did not return. We’ll see how much of that was the actual injury and how much was the Warriors losing this game in the second quarter, but the point remains, Green keeps racking up minor knocks, and the Warriors can’t really function without him.

Excluding last season, the Warriors had been so dominant that they had found spots for him to rest, or injuries had forced that time for him on the bench. His body was healthy enough in the pre-Kevin Durant years to deal with most of the workload thrown his way. And in the Durant years, there was enough depth where the Warriors could afford to be without him in spurts.

But now? It’s Curry and Green. Every game. They have to be dominant, and that’s just not sustainable. Andrew Wiggins decides to show up once every few games, but more often than not, he’s passive. Kelly Oubre Jr. has come on strong, but you’re asking him to be your No. 2 on every night, which demands more out of everyone else. And James Wiseman? Well he’s 19. He’ll get there, but how long will it take… and will it match up with Curry’s window?

There is too much reliance on two players on the wrong side of 30 for a team that, by every indication, will not be a major contender in the playoffs. If this is to be a year of patience, this front office and coaching staff will have to figure out how much of Green’s treads they’re willing to wear down, or if it’s worth looking to trade him.

 

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