Golden State’s Stephen Curry knows that the rift between teammates Kevin Durant and Draymond Green might be viewed by outsiders as something that can doom the Warriors this season.
To them, he has a message.
“That’s not going to happen,” Curry said.
Curry spoke publicly Saturday night for the first time about the testy exchange between Durant and Green -- they went at each other late in what became an overtime loss to the LA Clippers last Monday night, and the fallout has been a major talking point around the NBA since -- and lauded both players for the way they’re handing the situation.
“I think the way we’ve handled it as a team, the way Draymond’s handled it, the way KD’s handled it, it’s been nothing but professionalism,” Curry said.
Green is getting the weekend off. The Warriors held him out of their game in Dallas on Saturday because of an ongoing issue with a toe on his right foot, a game Golden State lost 112-109. He also did not play as Golden State lost 104-92 on the road to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
To coach Steve Kerr, the difficult times the Warriors have faced of late show just how fortunate the team has been overall the last few seasons. In racking up back-to-back NBA titles and three championships in the last four seasons, Golden State has made life in the NBA look simple at times.
"We've had such a charmed existence the last four seasons. So, of course, this is the toughest stretch we've been in,'' Kerr said after Sunday's loss to San Antonio. ''This is the real NBA. We haven't been in the real NBA the last few years. We've been in this dream. So, now we're faced with real adversity. We've got to get out of it ourselves.''
Curry and Green went down with injuries during the recent dry spell, but the biggest setback was self-inflicted. Green and Durant had a blowup at the close of regulation in a 121-116 overtime loss to the LA Clippers last Monday. Green's tirades on the bench and in the postgame locker room led the team to hand the seventh-year forward a one-game suspension.
The flare-up and the Warriors' inability to move past it spiritually has confounded Kerr.
"Just play with joy. It's always been about just our emotion," Durant said, describing how Kerr has encouraged his club. "He's always been big about that. He's just trying to get that joy back."
There wasn't much joy to be found in San Antonio.
DeMar DeRozan had 20 points and nine assists and Rudy Gay added 19 points to help the Spurs snap a three-game slide.
Golden State was without Curry and Green again, and their absence led to a cold start. Three nights after being held to a season-low output in a 107-86 loss at Houston, the Warriors nearly matched that dubious mark.
They missed all six 3-point attempts in the first quarter as San Antonio jumped out to a 33-27 lead. The Spurs' Rudy Gay scored 12 points in the opening period. San Antonio also frustrated the Warriors on offense for much of the game. After quickly regaining an errant pass on their end of the court in the third quarter, Durant passed up a 3-pointer to fire a pass in the lane to Damian Jones only to have Gay stuff him at the rim.
It’s been a rocky couple of weeks for Green. He hurt the toe against Memphis on Nov. 5, missed Golden State’s next two games, returned for the game against the Clippers -- the one where he had the dustup with Durant -- and was suspended by the Warriors for their next game, against Atlanta on Wednesday. Green then played in Houston the next night, on a minutes restriction because of the toe, and went scoreless.
“We decided to give him some time off,” Kerr said Saturday. “We don’t know how long it will be, but the toe has been lingering, the injury has been lingering. He felt and we felt and our training staff felt that we’re spinning our wheels a little bit if we keep playing him. We’ve got to get him better.”
Curry missed his sixth straight game on Sunday with a strained left groin, and is likely to miss at least another week before he’s cleared to return. He wasn’t in Los Angeles for the Clippers game.
“It’s been different. It’s been tough,” Curry said Saturday. “Obviously it sucks not being able to play, sucks when you’re not with the team and something like that happens.”
Curry was asked why he thinks Durant and Green will reconcile.
“They have a lot of equity built in their relationship,” Curry said. “They’ve won championships together. They’ve brought out the best in each other. Obviously, I don’t think they’ve had an incident to this level, but you don’t have the experiences that you’ve had and go through the journey that we’ve been on and let it be derailed by something like that.”
The Warriors are trying this season to join only the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls as franchises to win three consecutive NBA titles.
Curry said that will be foremost in the Warriors’ collective thoughts going forward.
“We have the opportunity to do something extremely special this year,” Curry said. “There’s going to be ups and downs and bumps in the road, whether it’s self-inflicted or whether it’s from outside. At the end of the day nothing should distract us from what our goal is.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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