Warriors Still Searching for Answers Down the Stretch

[CSNBY] Warriors in unfamiliar position with NBA's worst record, lottery dreams
Logan Murdock

ORLANDO -- In a season of transition, the Warriors are learning their share of lessons. 

Their latest schooling came in Sunday's 100-96 loss to the Magic, when the Warriors squandered a one-point lead with two minutes left in the game. 

For years, the Warriors could look to veteran leaders and all-stars to help close out games, using its experience to outsmart opponents on their way to multiple titles. Now, with a young roster and injured all-stars, the battered are left to figure out how to win down the stretch. 

"It's definitely one of those things that take time," Warriors forward Draymond Green admitted Sunday. "It's not something that just happens overnight."

While their latest attempt failed, the team showed promise. Down 12 points in the first half, Golden State took an 89-86 lead following a 3-pointer from Glenn Robinson III late in fourth quarter. Orlando responded with a 9-0 run, capped by a Khem Birch free throw with a minute to go, helping seal the game. 

At the moment, Golden State -- the league's worst team -- is currently the worst team in clutch situations, winning just one game decided by five points or more, averaging just 6.3 points in the game's last five minutes in such situations. Worse, they're shooting just 39.6 percent in such situations. 

The current circumstances are much different than its performances of the past. Last season, the Warriors finished ninth in clutch situations, winning 57 percent of their games decided by five points or less with a roster featuring Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson. 

Now, as the Warriors reconcile a new chapter, they're beginning to make strides. Last week, they outscored the Chicago Bulls 26-17 in the fourth quarter to earn their fourth win of the season. Two days ago, they cut a 15 point lead down to six in the third quarter. 

Following Orlando's late run Sunday evening, Golden State used a 6-0 of its own with 33 seconds left, cutting the lead to two. Twenty seconds later, the Warriors forced a five-second violation, setting up a chance to win the game with six seconds left, before Alec Burks missed 3-pointer at the buzzer. 

"The last three, four games we've played, I feel better about our execution down the stretch," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We just have to stick with it and let it pay off." 

"They made a couple shots, we missed a couple," Green added. "But when you're playing a game all you can ask for at the end of the game is to get yourself a shot to win the game and we did that."

Golden State's latest improvement comes as the team is getting healthy. Over the next week, the roster is expected to get quality contributors D'Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans and Kevon Looney back in the lineup, helping the roster's need for veteran presences. For now, they'll just take the latest lesson learned on Sunday evening. 

"I thought we competed against Miami the other night. Tonight was a really good fight," Kerr said. "We competed, we defended like crazy. So I'm telling you the improvement is there, the competitiveness is there. We'll get over the hump, but it's just we're not there anymore."
 

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