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Steve Kerr: ‘We’re not moving the ball;’ Kevin Durant: ‘We pass the ball too much’

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When he took over for Mark Jackson as Golden State coach, Steve Kerr emphasized pace, spacing and ball and player movement offensively. The Warriors’ scoring skyrocketed, and they became the juggernaut we now know.

Then, they added Kevin Durant.

Ever since, there has been a give and take. Kerr and the Warriors – including Durant – still like to run, spread the floor and share the ball. But Durant is also great in isolation and sometimes reverts to that. Remember, Durant’s and Draymond Green‘s infamous argument earlier this season stemmed from a play where Green wanted to push the ball up-court then pass to an open player while Durant wanted to control the ball himself.

The latest disconnect in offensive style came after Golden State’s 108-103 loss to the Jazz last night. The Warriors had just 266 passes and 18 assists, marks that would rank last or near last per game in the NBA this season.

Kerr, via Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“We’re not moving the ball,” Kerr said after watching his club shoot 40 percent from the field, including 10-for-31 (32.3 percent) from three-point range. “We’re not playing the way we’ve played the last few years, where the ball is really moving and we’re taking great shots.”

Mark Medina of The Mercury News:

Durant and Kerr have disagreed after a loss before, and they still came together to win a championship. It’s a long season. This needn’t necessarily blow up into something huge.

But this is the most detached Durant and Kerr have seemed on this issue. With Durant’s free agency looming, his alignment with Golden State justifiably gets put under the microscope. This shouldn’t be ignored.

Durant views basketball a certain way. He values getting buckets in a way that doesn’t neatly overlap with Kerr’s philosophy. I’m not sure that will ever completely change.

But both sides can continue to work to meet in the middle. Durant reportedly left the Thunder, in part, due to frustration over Russell Westbrook commandeering the offense. Yet, Durant must do more to get the ball within a free-flowing system. He can be too stagnant. Durant has shown an eagerness to expand his game, and maybe Golden State can sell him on this being the next skill to develop.

The Warriors are at their best when running Kerr’s equalitarian offense. Green and Klay Thompson particularly perform better in that structure. Stephen Curry too, though he’s good enough to play multiple ways. But, as Durant said, opponents have become more adept at stopping it. Everyone has copied the Warriors, so defenses have adjusted. Durant isolating is a great alternative against defenses slowing Kerr’s preferred system. But Durant is also far too talented to be pigeonholed as Golden State’s last resort.

To some degree, these are first-world problems. Whatever the Warriors are doing, it’s working.

They still lead the league in assists per game (27.6). They still rank fourth in passes per game (309.8). They still rank second in points per 100 possession (113.0, just behind the Bucks’ 113.2).

And, of course, Golden State has won two championships in Durant’s two years there. The Warriors are favored to win another this season.

Most teams would kill to have these offensive problems.

But with Durant’s impending free agency, how he feels matters greatly. Golden State must continue to work to get on the same page with him.

They’re clearly not there yet.

Buddy Hield on Kings getting booed at home: ‘That’s how Sacramento fans are’

Kings guard Buddy Hield
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Buddy Hield is quite familiar with frustration amid the Kings’ disappointing season.

Sacramento fans showed theirs Wednesday, booing the Kings during their home loss to the Mavericks.

Buddy Hield, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:

“Everybody is frustrated, it’s not even them, we’re trying to figure it out too,” Buddy Hield said following the loss. “But it’s the home team and we get booed…we don’t agree with it, but they’re going to voice their opinion.

“I understand their frustration, but like I said, I’m going to keep shooting the ball,” Hield continued. “When I make a three they like me, when I don’t, they hate you. That’s how Sacramento fans are, man, so you’ve got to embrace it.”

Hield seemingly isn’t looking to pick a fight with fans. He made a point to empathize with their frustration.

But I don’t think he’s being fair, either.

Kings fans are far more loyal than swinging between love and hate depending whether or not a shot falls. They’re fed up after 13 – going on 14 – straight seasons missing the playoffs. This year has been particularly discouraging, as Sacramento has backtracked from fun and fast to sad and slow. Losing to Luka Doncica particular grievance – only adds to the irritation.

The Kings’ problems have spanned multiple owners, executives, coaches and players. So, booing this group isn’t totally fair, either. But this is who’s in front of the fans.

If this Sacramento team plays hard and together, fans will embrace it – and stick with it through thinner times.

76ers play 6-on-5 vs. Bulls (video)

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The 76ers found one way to solve their spacing issues.

Philadelphia showed good ball movement, finding Furkan Korkmaz for an open corner 3-pointer. The catch? Korkmaz got open, because the 76ers had six players on the floor.

I love Kyle O'Quinn trying to slink off the court. He wanted to get away with it. Tobias Harris, who jogged to the bench, was practically begging to get caught.

Honestly, I’m a little surprised how quickly the Bulls noticed the violation. It’s not as if their defense scrambling is anything new.

Thirty days after being called ‘day-to-day,’ Karl-Anthony Towns returns to Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns
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Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders called Karl-Anthony Towns “day-to-day” with a left knee sprain.

That was 30 days ago.

Towns finally returned to Minnesota’s lineup, starting against the Pacers tonight.

While out due to his knee, Towns also battled illness. That undoubtedly complicated matters. But the Timberwolves repeatedly calling him “questionable” raises questions about their commitment to transparency. That’s important in an NBA embracing gambling.

Towns’ 17-game absence is a rare dent in his durability. In his first four seasons, Towns missed only five games – two due to a car crash.

Towns is Minnesota’s best player. He could provide a jolt to a team hanging in the playoff race. But, after a strong start, the Timberwolves began to tumble even before Towns went down. They’re probably won’t make the playoffs, though their odds are definitely better with him. At least he returns in time to make an All-Star case.

Knicks’ Marcus Morris after 23-point loss to Suns: ‘We were a better team’

Knicks forward Marcus Morris
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Marcus Morris loathes the Suns.

Unfortunately for him, his Knicks lost to the Suns, 121-98, yesterday.

Morris, via Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News:

“Kudos to Phoenix, but at the end of the day, we were a better team,” Marcus Morris said postgame. “We should have got that win tonight.”

Nahhh.

The Knicks stink. They’ve lost seven of eight. Morris talked about energy, and New York’s could be better. But this is what happens on losing teams. The Knicks’ roster just isn’t good enough. It’s not more complicated than that.

The Suns aren’t great, either. But they’re much better than New York – no matter how much that grinds Morris.