Warriors must regain poise to beat Lakers, keep NBA title hopes alive

Warriors' hopes of beating Lakers rides on regaining poise originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

BEVERLY HILLS – No point in complaining about officials, said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, himself the object of considerable complaint after the team boarded the fast track to defeat with a disastrous second quarter in Game 3 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The grumbling in the streets of Dub Nation Saturday night mostly targeted Kerr and his rotations, the ongoing presence of Jordan Poole, the ongoing absence of Jonathan Kuminga, and the game officials for their part in a glaring disparity in free throws.

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While each of those issues is worthy of debate, nothing was more vexing than watching the Warriors lose their equanimity over the final 7:35 of the first half.

“Yeah, I’d say last night was a lot of self-inflicted wounds, across the board,” Stephen Curry said Sunday afternoon, 15 hours after Golden State’s 127-97 Western Conference semifinals loss at Crypto.com Arena. “You hate that you have to keep learning that lesson at this stage of the season.

“But we did. And now it’s about how we respond.”

How the Warriors, trailing the best-of-seven series 2-1, respond in Game 4 on Monday will go far in determining if this series remains competitive. Game 3 was – until that abominable second quarter.


Golden State took a 40-29 lead on a Moses Moody 3-pointer with 7:53 remaining. The next possession ended 18 seconds later, when Curry's pass intended for Klay Thompson went out of bounds. That was the first of six turnovers in the minutes before halftime.

Meanwhile, the Warriors, over the final 7:35, were whistled for nine fouls, including one flagrant-1 and two technical fouls. They missed nine consecutive shots and were 3-of-15 from the field.

The Warriors made their only free throw in the quarter, while LA was 11-of-15 from the line.

“We didn't lose the game because of the officials,” Kerr said. “So, there's no point and whining about anything. There were definitely calls that we didn't like. But after every game, both coaches can say that.


“This is not about anything other than just our performance.”

The general decision-making often looked, as one member of the team’s party said, “crazy, like stuff you see on a bad high-school team.”

The loss of composure included several visible displays of frustration by multiple players, including veterans. It also extended to the officiating, with Draymond Green and JaMychal Green both receiving technical fouls.

That comprehensive calamity was fully exploited by the Lakers, who went on a 30-8 run to take a 59-48 lead at the half. The Warriors never recovered. They trailed by 11 at the half, by 18 after three quarters and by as much as 34.


“It was disappointing,” Kerr said, “Just because we felt like we were in pretty good control of the game, putting together a lot of good possessions defending, taking care of the ball. And then the fouls and the turnovers and some rushed possessions all kind of came at once. We’ve got to do a better job with that.”

The defending champs were, in a word, “shook.” The veteran core of Thompson, Curry and Green were as guilty as anyone on the roster.

“We had a lot of good things happening,” Curry said. “Up 11, with seven (minutes) and some change left. And then they go on a huge run, get their crowd into it. It’s just the vibe you get on the road. Every possession matters. And this was a reminder of that.”

Losing was bad enough, but losing in the ugliest of ways, with collective focus basically leaving the building, is downright unbecoming of a team with Golden State’s lofty aspirations.


“We’ve been having ups and downs like that all year, especially on the road,” Kevon Looney said. “We’ve been doing a lot better in the playoffs, and I thought we’ve been growing in that area. But the last game we let it get out of control and we weren’t able to reel it back in.”

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The Warriors in this series have as many as four opportunities to reel it back in, to gather their wits and their dignity and retain their hopes of advancing.

Otherwise, they might have to accept losing – for the first time in the Kerr era – a playoff series before reaching the NBA Finals.

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