Fred Katz: That’s Westbrook’s 12th technical foul of the year, breaking a tie with KD and Dwight Howard for second-most in the NBA. Draymond Green leads the league with 14.
May 20, 2018 | 12:35 pm EDT Update
The Warriors were up 15 in the fourth quarter. They no doubt were going to beat the visiting Brooklyn Nets, but the drama was just beginning. Steve Kerr benched Draymond Green with 10:25 left in the game. And Green, who was 1 for 8 with four rebounds and three turnovers to that point, was furious. He was an All-Star headed for the Defensive Player of the Year award. He’d earned the right to play through his funk instead of being embarrassed with a benching. He sat the rest of the quarter and was still fuming after the game. “If he woulda said one more word to me, I was gonna go off on his ass,” Green said in the locker room, unapologetically loud. “One more word, I was ’bout to cuss his ass out. But he’s smart. I’ll give him that. He’s smart. He didn’t say one more word to me.”
Kerr had plans to go see “Hamilton” on Broadway with his wife. But Margot got a call from her husband. He was going to be late. He and Green grabbed a drink and just talked. “People don’t understand our relationship,” Green said recently. “I’m probably closer with Steve than any other player on this team.” When Kerr got the Warriors job and it became clear Green would be a central figure, he called up Michigan State coach Tom Izzo for advice on coaching Green. Izzo told Kerr to go at Green because that gets the most out of him. Kerr, whose competitive fire trends toward maniacal, had no problem acquiescing. “I might have gone too far a couple times,” Kerr recalled. But Green almost welcomes the friction. So the two were made for each other in some ways.
It usually only requires Klay Thompson a few seconds to hold the ball before drilling a shot. Naturally, it only took a few seconds for Thompson to explain how he will fix his rough performance in the Warriors’ Game 2 loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. “I’ll be better tomorrow,” Thompson said for when the Warriors (1-1) play Game 3 against Houston in the Western Conference Finals on Sunday at Oracle Arena. “I guarantee it.”
Thompson then went over seven minutes without a shot attempt before missing a layup. He then missed four of his next five shots in the second quarter. Thompson missed his lone field-goal in the third quarter and missed two more in the fourth. “They just tried to take away open looks,” Thompson said. “But I have to hunt for those open looks and not settle. I’ll do that [in Game 3].” That does not mean Thompson plans to call for the ball or run isolation plays for himself. “Not really force the issue, but just be more aggressive, whether that’s to make a play for somebody else or for my own shot,” Thompson said. “Just be more aggressive and a threat instead of standing around.”
The Rockets, like so many others, are assuming there’s a fatigue/rhythm/rust factor at play that is working to their benefit. “Golden State has made us go to another level (defensively) with their offense that if you just guard it (conventionally), it’s unguardable, so it makes us switch,” D’Antoni told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday. “And there are a lot of problems with switching. It’s not like it’s going to solve all the problems, but they make us switch. And our offense makes them (switch), and they’ve been really good at switching. Now obviously in switches, you’ve got to pick on (someone). And (Curry) isn’t bad, but if he’s the worst of the five, you’re not going to pick on the All-Defensive player (or) the Defensive Player of the Year. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Meanwhile, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his staff spent the past three days trying to find solutions for all these unique challenges. “Well, they do a ton of switching, like we do, and they’ve got a lot of guys who they may not be the Greek Freak (Antetokounmpo) or (Durant), but they’re good-sized guys with Trevor Ariza, PJ Tucker, Eric Gordon,” Kerr said. “These guys are good, solid defenders, and they’ve eliminated a lot of holes in their defense from the past few years by adding more defenders, PJ and Luc Mbah a Moute. So they’ve made it tougher in the half court for sure, and they’ve done a really good job with their defense, and the stats show it.”