OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr remains optimistic about his team’s future despite the fact that his group has suffered some blowout home loses, including Tuesday night’s 127-101 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“The bar’s been set high,” Kerr said after Wednesday’s practice. “I told our guys that; I gave them that line today. You guys have set the bar really high. So everything takes on a little greater sense of urgency in terms of what happens around the team. We’re maybe the most scrutinized team in the history of the league. We’re right there with the Bulls teams that I played on. I felt the same, but even more so now because of the number of media outlets and the immediacy of the judgement and criticism. So it’s all part of it; our guys have learned how to deal with all of that over the past few years. It doesn’t matter. What matters is how you respond to a bad loss, to a bad stretch, to injuries. As long as you keep responding, keep showing up to work, keep sticking together, keep working, good things are going to happen. That’s what I believe with this group.”
Kerr’s optimism stems from the fact that his proud group has been through all kinds of ups and downs over the past five seasons since he became head coach. Still, this season has been challenging for a variety of reasons, as Kerr and the Warriors have suffered five losses of 20 or more points for the first time in the Kerr era, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“We’re a championship team,” Kerr said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who have been through everything in this league to rely on that experience. We rely on that as a staff with our leadership amongst the team, but we keep pressing forward. We keep trying to get better. There’s a reason we have practice every day, there’s a reason you guys show up every day and write about our team. It’s a journey, it’s a long journey. As I said, it’s a more arduous one this year than it’s been in the past just because of the circumstances. So it’s all part of it, we’re going to get through it, we’re going to get better. We’ll see what happens.”
The Warriors head into Thursday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers having already lost four games at Oracle Arena by 20 or more points. For comparison, they lost just two games by 20 or more points during Kerr’s first four seasons. However, they have the second-best record in the Western Conference.
Warriors superstar Kevin Durant also isn’t concerned about his team’s recent losses, despite the fact that many fans and media are starting to doubt that the Warriors can win a third straight NBA title this season for the first time since the 2000-02 Lakers.
“Some people … it don’t really mean a thing to me when it comes to having a basketball career. I mean, I don’t know even how to answer that question because we don’t talk about people when we come in here. Only when I sit down and talk to y’all. I mean, I respect your opinions and everything, but you guys don’t really matter when you step on the court,” Durant said, addressing the media. “So we can’t think about what you guys are saying about us if we lose a game or we are struggling. You got to be worried about being the best players and the best team we can be, and that is our focus every day.
“I mean, they just need new content,” Durant said. “So it’s a long season. If you got a job that you got to work at every day covering basketball, you need something outside of the norm, know what I mean? Kind of [need] some little fun at work, so you got to panic a little bit on the outside, but on the inside I feel like we know we are not playing as well as we should but we know we got a long season ahead.”
It’s the same message Kerr has relayed publicly many times since the season began. Obviously, he would like for his team to play better, but he knows that championships aren’t won in November and December — they are won in May and June.
Several players took responsibility after the Warriors’ loss to the Lakers, including All-Star forward Draymond Green, who was frustrated with the way he’s been playing, but Durant noted that he does not believe Green is at fault for the Warriors’ recent struggles.
“I don’t believe that,” Durant said. “I don’t believe that he messed the offense up. I don’t believe that it’s solely on him. Obviously we want Draymond to be aggressive.”
Green is just 11-for-49 from 3-point range this year, and Durant, like the rest of his teammates, is hopeful he will break out of his slump from long range soon.
“I hate when he hesitates,” Durant said. “I hate when he’s looking to pass when he should shoot. I tell him that all the time. That’s hard to figure that out as a player, especially when their game is facilitating and getting everyone involved — when to turn that on and think about yourself. It’s not selfishness but it’s just that we need that in order for us to be good. It’s really unselfishness when you go out there and be the best player you can be scoring the basketball sometimes. And Draymond is a guy that we trust and believe to knock those shots down and create something for us. I don’t think he likes it or we don’t like it when he’s in between decisions, and I thought I seen that a couple of times. Misses and turnovers, like who cares. Just the in between and him hesitating, we want him to be aggressive.”
ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.