Warriors lose to T’Wolves as China tour continues.
But loss to T-Wolves shows globetrotting Warriors have work to do before opener
SHANGHAI » The sound of the bus engines signaled the Warriors’ arrival. The sound outside those buses signaled the team’s strong support as fans waited outside and could be heard through the windows.
Warriors fans stood behind barricades outside the team’s five- star hotel, shouting the names of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant theminute they stepped off the bus. Several woreWarriors jerseys. Some woreWarriors hats. Plenty carried various posters.
One even brought a toaster for Thompson to sign, somethingWarriors fans in the Bay Area had done last season.
It did not seem to matter that the Warriors arrived here Friday at about 1 a.m. local time. Their fans here wanted to catch a glimpse any way they can.
A similarly festive atmosphere played out two hours before the Warriors’ 111-97 exhibition loss to Minnesota on Thursday afternoon in Shenzhen ( late Wednesday night PDT). Then, fans gathered in their seats, cheered and took video of Curry, Thompson and Durant during their pregame routine.
“They wanted to get the full experience,” Curry said. “You could feel that when you step from the floor for warmups.”
As theWarriors have experienced so far in their week-long trip in China, that festive at-
mosphere has become the equivalent of consuming an energy drink.
They feel an adrenaline rush from all the excitement, such as when Curry was in the locker roomand could still hear fans cheering when Durant ended his pregame routine with a two-handed dunk. But the Warriors also crashed and burned against Minnesota after a strong start, the product of rustiness and a compressed travel schedule catching up to them.
That gave Warriors coach Steve Kerr a clear objective for Sunday’s exhibition here against Minnesota after going 0-2, the team’s worst start to a preseason since going 0-2 during the 1999 lockout-shortened season.
“Our conditioning needs work,” Kerr said. “You can tell the execution got worse because of the fatigue. We have to keep working on our conditioning and be ready to play a 48-minute game.”
Kerr then pointed out accomplishing that goal “is not easy given the abbreviated preseason.”
The Warriors welcomed the NBA’s reduced exhibition schedule to four games after playing seven exhibitions last season. Fewer games meant fewer minutes for a team trying to pace itself on a back-toback championship run in what would be its fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance. Fewer games also meant a busy weeklong trip here felt more physically and mentally taxing.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Curry said.
Perhaps that explains why theWarriors’ star players only spent a few minutes signing autographs before quickly entering the hotel. After their game in Shenzhen, the Warriors took a 45-minute bus ride to the airport only to wait for an hour to board. They then took a 2-hour, 25-minute flight to Shanghai.
“That’s the biggest challenge,” Kerr said, “physically being prepared and ready to go on opening night” against Houston on Oct. 17 at Oracle Arena.
It has been challenging for the Warriors’ players to accomplish that with a starting lineup limited to 25 minutes to avoid burnout. Meanwhile, Kerr has mentioned the conditioning issues of Nick Young, who had taken a hard fall late againstMinnesota before needing to head to the locker room. Afterward, Kerr did not have a med- ical update, other than believing Young simply fell on his tailbone.
As for the rest of the Warriors, they believe they will get back up soon as they expect talent and experience will soon help them shed the layers of rust.
“Obviously we have to keep our energy level up and build our endurance,” Curry said. “Our chemistry on the court with timing and things like that. You have to pace yourself as you ramp up.”
Kevin Durant gets a warm welcome before the exhibition game against the Timberwolves in Shenzhen, China.
Stephen Curry puts up a shot between the Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins, left, and Taj Gibson.
Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors have one more exhibition game in China against the Timberwolves before heading back to the Bay Area to get ready for the regular-season opener.
Kevin Durant had 20points against Andrew Wiggins and the Timberwolves in their first game in China.