17 Jan

Draymond Green says ‘there’s just no pride’ after Warriors’ ugly loss to Grizzlies in return from suspension

The Warriors have been hearing a lot of boos recently. Unfortunately, most have been from their own fans. On Monday, however, the boos were sweet music to their ears, as Draymond Green was greeted with a chorus of them by the Memphis Grizzlies fans at FedEx Forum, who clearly had a photographic memory of Green’s “Whoop That Trick” antics during the playoffs a couple of seasons ago.

Even the boost provided by Green in his return from a 12-game suspension (16-game absence) — his play, his leadership and his communication — wasn’t enough to get them past a skeleton Grizzlies crew without Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Marcus Smart and a host of others. In the end, it was a 116-107 Golden State loss in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day national TV showcase. The fact that you have to check if this is the Warriors’ worst loss of the season tells you everything you need to know about their troubling state.

What was supposed to be a beacon of hope — proof that when Green is on the court with the other vets, this team is different — instead turned into what could have been the final straw. If we can’t beat this team, how can we conceivably consider ourselves even remotely in the championship conversation?

In terms of basketball, Green was just fine in his return on Monday — seven points, seven rebounds, four assists, a steal and a plus-one in 24 minutes off the bench. He, Andrew Wiggins and Lester Quinones (who played five minutes) were the only players to finish with a positive plus-minus in the box score.

Especially with Chris Paul out, the Warriors need Green to be the secondary playmaker who allows Stephen Curry to work his magic off the ball, and the chemistry between the two longtime teammates returned immediately.

Defnsively, Green took on his normal role as the anchor and small-ball center, communicating with teammates to get them in the right position in the Warriors’ switching defense. The fact that he was plus-one in a nine-point loss shows how effective he was on both sides of the ball.

Ultimately, though, it didn’t matter.

The Warriors were plagued by the same problems that have crushed them all year — too many turnovers, too many fouls, not enough help for Curry, not enough athleticism. Golden State had 19 turnovers, gave up a season-high 20 3-pointers and allowed 40 free throw attempts. They looked ill-equipped to handle the energy and pace of the young and largely unproven Grizzlies.

“We have to understand where we are as a team — what our record is, where we are in the Western Conference,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said after the loss. “What that means is we have to be sharp. We have to play a smart, clean game. We can’t turn it over. We can’t reach. We can’t foul. We did all those things.”

Once he gets back to speed, Green will increasingly provide help. But Monday’s terrible loss shows that even with Green firing on all cylinders, this team is still far from contention. Perhaps a trade deadline move is the answer, with plenty of targets out there who can potentially make a difference. If it isn’t, however, the Warriors have to face the reality that they simply aren’t good enough, and think about what that means for the future of the franchise.

“You just gotta have pride in yourself as a man that I’m not gonna let my guy score,” Green said after the game. “Our closeouts [were] too soft. Our rotations were too slow. So there’s just no pride. Until every guy takes pride in themselves, and wants to stop the guy in front of him, we’ll suck.”

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