Joe Lacob

Warriors' brutal loss adds more stress to burdened front office

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The Warriors were in their national TV comfort zone Monday, getting a rested Stephen Curry, an emotional lift provided by the return of Draymond Green and facing a Memphis Grizzlies team missing three of its four best players.

The deck was stacked in their favor.

The result, however, stacked another ton atop a Golden State front office already stressed by the weight of staring at an 18-22 record despite having the highest payroll in the NBA.

The Warriors responded to overtly favorable conditions with a 116-107 loss at FedExForum that serves as a microcosm of a season during which misery seems to stalk them even in the unlikeliest circumstances.

“You’ve got to build great habits and right now, this team, we have bad habits,” Green told reporters in Memphis. “And it starts with me getting suspended and all the foolishness. All those things matter. We got to build better habits.”

Though Green played reasonably well, no individual could stop the tide the Warriors powered against themselves. Too many turnovers, too many fouls, too little offense and defense at the arcs – all representing their worst tendencies – sabotaged what until the final eight minutes was a winnable game.

“We played very poorly defensively, but a lot of that had to do with our offense,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Nineteen turnovers that turn into 30 points. Their game plan was pretty simple: Shoot as many 3s as possible and get into transition as often as possible. And for us to foul 25 times to their 12, well, that's the story.

“They we just played a really clean game. They took care of the ball. We didn't. We fouled and we were reaching. Steph got several early fouls and we’re turning the ball over left and right and you know they gained belief.”

The Grizzlies were without Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Marcus Smart and Steven Adams. Their starting lineup featured one star, Jaren Jackson Jr., alongside four role players, and they assaulted Golden State’s defense with 54 3-point shots, 20 of which dropped in.

Memphis (15-25) never reached 20 triples in any of its previous 39 games.

“Just got to have pride in yourself as a man, that I'm not going to let my guy score,” Green said. “Our closeouts were too soft. Our rotations were too slow. So, it’s just no pride.

Until every guy takes pride in themselves and wants to stop the guy in front of them, we’ll suck.”

If the Warriors’ last-place defense were their only shortcoming, they still would have had a chance to win a game and set themselves up for a winning road trip. But their offense, when not lobbing long-range bricks – 10 of 31 from deep – too often looked like raw eggs splattered on the kitchen floor.

Curry scored a game-high 26 points but committed a game-high five turnovers. Dario Šarić produced 13 points and seven rebounds, but gave four turnovers to the Grizzlies.

“Instead of being solid and taking care of the ball and executing, we got careless,” Kerr said. “We had a three-on-two in transition in the second quarter that turned into a 3 the other way.

“We have to understand where we are as a team, what our record is, where we are in the Western Conference. What that means is we have to be sharp. We have to play a smart, clean game. We can't turn it over. We can't reach we can't foul. We did all those things.”

The Warriors sit firmly in 12th place in the Western Conference. They are No. 25 in defensive rating, No. 24 in free throws allowed, No. 23 in turnover percentage, No. 13 in offensive rating and No. 1 in salary expenses.

As the Warriors conclude the trip Wednesday in Utah in a game that represents the exact halfway point of the season, they exist as outsiders in the 10-team playoff derby. They’ve lost eight of their last 11 games, so any light of encouragement is too dim to see.

General manager Mike Dunleavy doesn’t want to watch this deceleration, and there is no way on this earth that CEO Joe Lacob is willing to quietly watch this slow-motion tumble toward the far reaches of the league.

Time is ticking and the phones are busy, as they should be.

“Time is always urgent in this league,” Green said. “You don’t have the opportunity waste time, let time waste away. Because you face too many unforeseen things in this league to let time dwindle away.”

This was another game in which Golden State’s many flaws were on full display. It’s visible against opponents good and bad. This is a Warriors issue, and it has become apparent it’s not going to fix itself. Not with this roster.

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