The Golden State Warriors blew a 24-point lead, at home, to the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night in a 128-119 overtime loss, Golden State's sixth of the season, and fourth to a Western Conference playoff power this season. The play that caught everyone's attention, however, occurred with 41 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. Klay Thompson snagged a monstrous offensive rebound to give the Warriors a chance to ice it, up two with the ball.
Here's the play:
The things you should notice from above:
1. Draymond Green points to Durant to make sure Curry runs offense with him. Green wants the Warriors to run offense here, not just isolate. The Warriors have rarely, hardly ever actually run a Durant-Curry pick and roll in crunch time this season. Now's the time. It's a deadly set and they're sure to get a good look out of it. If they run it.... which they don't.
It doesn't really matter if the call is for Durant to handle with Curry screening, or vice-versa. Either way, they're getting a better shot. If Curry runs pick and roll with Durant and the Grizzlies switch, Durant has a mismatch with Mike Conley guarding him. If not, Curry has Randolph moving and out of position, and if they blitz Curry, Durant's wide open. If Durant handles and they switch, Durant again has Conley on him, and if they don't and the blitz, Curry's open. It's the crux of what makes the Warriors so theoretically unstoppable, and the fact they haven't gone to it more seems like unnecessary hiding away for a playoff environment when they need to get kinks worked out in live-game environments.
2. Durant calls for the ball. Durant was getting back in transition, but he comes cross halfcourt calling for it. This is a big deal. Durant is not only taking the ball out of Curry's hands, after Curry went for 40, but he's calling his own number here. The talk for years about the miserable Oklahoma City late-game offense was about the coaching of Scott Brooks or Billy Donovan, or he selfishness of Russell Westbrook. But Durant called his own number often, yet was never discussed as being culpable for that decision. Here, Durant makes that call.
3. Steph Curry dismissively tosses him the ball. Curry's clearly not happy with it, and just relents. Apparently when Curry was texting Durant and saying he didn't care whose team it was in the summer, he didn't mean that Durant could just hijack the offense when he felt like it.4. Draymond flips out.
Green yells and throws his fist when Curry throws him the ball, clearly angry that the two aren't going to run anything together and that Durant is just clearing out.
Durant admitted after the game that Green was telling him in the exchange below that they needed to run pick and roll.
Draymond ain't happy with KD pic.twitter.com/bc97cDJaZg— Full Court Prez (@fullcourtprez) January 7, 2017
That's Draymond Green yelling at the former-MVP superstar player the Warriors collectively courted that they should have stuck with the pick and roll.
5. Steph sets a lackadaisical screen. Curry comes up to screen for Durant... and then just kind of slips it. It's pretty clear Curry's not happy with how this is going, and to a degree, he's pouting.
6. Draymond pouts too. Green is pretty much fuming this entire possession. Watch his behavior as he stalks the baseline, turning away from the play even. You'll also note that the Green makes absolutely no attempt to rebound after Durant's contested jumper.
7. Durant settles for a clear-out, isolation jumper. Durant is 2-for-9 in clutch time (inside the final five minutes, within a five-point game) ISO shots, and is 7-of-25 overall in clutch time shooting. He's 3-of-12 in the final two minutes of a close game.
Four guys staring and watching Kevin Durant isolation and shoot. It turns out you can take Durant out of OKC, but he'll just bring it to the Bay and turn you into it. The Splash Brothers do make terrific lawn statues, though. Props to Andre Iguodala for actually trying to crash the glass here, by the way.
The Warriors would lose the game in overtime. Durant would finish 0-for-5 in the final five minutes of regulation and overtime.
Some final notes:
1. This stuff happens all the time. There's no irreparable fracture between Durant and his teammates. They're figuring things out. Durant's used to doing things one way, the Warriors do them differently. Durant has said many times that it's a learning experience, getting used to how the Warriors play. This is part of it, and there's a reason Green said he was "thrilled" they lost after the game, because it represents a real moment to examine and force changes to how Golden State has played in the fourth quarter.
2. Steph Curry did something similar. Green didn't seem frustrated that Curry chose to pursue this particular shot:
Curry also launched a 30-footer at the buzzer of regulation that missed off the backboard when he was crowded by JaMychal Green and unable to create space.
3. Durant's not 100 percent wrong here. There's a reason so many teams run isolation plays in these situations: they're safe. Trying to whip the ball around can result in a turnover, another huge problem for Golden State. As covered here, the Warriors end to flex between extremes, playing carelessly and then tightening up for these isolations. With Durant isolating, you know you're going to get one of the best players in the world rising up for a jumpshot over a less-athletic player in Zach Randolph. Durant hits that shot, and the conversation is about how this is what the Warriors brought Durant to the Bay to do. But he didn't, so here we are.
4. Credit Draymond Green. Green cares about the process. In the post-game press conference, Green talked about how the body language shifted for the Warriors in the third quarter. He was willing to let loose on his teammate because he finds it unacceptable. Say what you want about Draymond Green, but his first priority is always to win. And he didn't even kick Durant.