A DEEP STORY

War­riors use 3-point shoot­ing ad­van­tage to knock off the Bucks

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Mark Me­d­ina mme­d­[email protected] ba­yare­anews­group.com

MIL­WAU­KEE >> The War­riors faced a Bucks team that might serve as an NBA Fi­nals pre­view. But that doesn’t mean the War­riors’ coach con­sid­ered it sig­nif­i­cant to use this early De­cem­ber game as a barom­e­ter for what might hap­pen in June.

“You know what hap­pens if we lose? Noth­ing,” Kerr said be­fore Fri­day’s game. “We fall an­other game back in the stand­ings.”

The War­riors ac­tu­ally won 105-95 to reach a three-game win­ning streak, but Kerr’s sen­ti­ment still stands. The War­riors (18-9) might have a twogame lead over the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers (15-10) for fourth place in the West­ern Con­fer­ence stand­ings. That just makes Kerr roll his eyes, know­ing that the NBA reg­u­lar sea­son is only a quar­ter fin­ished and that his team has won three NBA cham­pi­onships in the past four Fi­nals ap­pear­ances.

“A game like this isn’t go­ing to faze us,” Kerr said.

Af­ter all, the War­riors’ play was un­char­ac­ter­is­tic of what they showed all sea­son both for bet­ter and for worse.

The War­riors en­tered Fri­day’s game ranked 20th out of 30 NBA teams in 3-point shots at­tempted (29.5), a vast dif­fer­ence from the sec­ond-ranked Bucks (40.6). On Fri­day, the War­riors went 19 of 46 from 3-point range while the Bucks shot only 7 of 39 from be­yond the arc.

The Bucks’ Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo, left, fights the War­riors’ Kevon Looney for a loose ball Fri­day in Mil­wau­kee.

Not sur­pris­ing, Klay Thomp­son (20 points, 4 of 9 from 3-point range) and Stephen Curry (20 points, 4 of 9 from 3-point range) helped with the War­riors’ out­side shoot­ing. But so did An­dre Iguo­dala (a sea­son-best 15 points, 3 of 6), Jonas Jere­bko (12 points, 4 of 9) and Al­fonzo McKin­nie (nine points, 3 of 7).

“I don’t care,” Kerr said of the team’ pre­vi­ously low 3-point at­tempts. “What I care about is great shots. I want to get re­ally good open shots. It doesn’t mat­ter if they are from three or from two. But I want them to be good ones and in rhythm.”

The War­riors had plenty of 3-point shots in rhythm at a time when they needed it most. War­riors for­ward Kevin Du­rant had 11 points while shoot­ing only 3 of 14 from the field and com­mit­ting seven turnovers to over­shadow his eight re­bounds and six as­sists.

The War­riors com­mit­ted 18 turnovers, in­clud­ing a few from Curry (three) and Thomp­son (three). The Bucks scored 56 points in the paint, in­clud­ing dou­ble-digit ef­forts from their start­ing lineup in Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo (22), Mal­com Brog­don (15), Eric Bled­soe (14), Brook Lopez (14) and Khris Mid­dle­ton (10).

As for the 3-point shoot­ing, though, Kerr may not stress to his team about du­pli­cat­ing Fri­day’s per­for­mance.

“I’m not en­tirely con­vinced

that math is ev­ery­thing. I’d rather go 6 for 12 from 2 and have the other team take the ball out of the net six times than 4 for 12 from 3 and have to deal with eight fast breaks. So there’s a re­ac­tion to ev­ery­thing,” Kerrr said. “I know as a player, I felt a lot more con­fi­dent when half of my shots went in rather than a third, whether they were from 3 or 2. There’s a rhythm that builds with the game.”

• The War­riors did not lis­ten to Dray­mond Green’s pleas to play against Mil­wau­kee. In­stead, Kerr said he ex­pects him to play on Mon­day against the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves at Or­a­cle Arena.

Green has missed 13 of the past 15 games be­cause of a sprained right toe in his right foot. The War­riors ini­tially ruled Green out for Fri­day against Mil­wau­kee but up­graded him to ques­tion­able fol­low­ing the morn­ing shootaround. But af­ter Green com­pleted a pregame warmup, team med­i­cal di­rec­tor Rick Cele­brii de­ter­mined Green would still sit.

Still, Kerr said Green’s “progress has been fan­tas­tic on the lat­ter part of this trip” af­ter nurs­ing pain in his toe at the be­gin­ning of the jour­ney.

• The War­riors do not have an of­fi­cial timetable for when All-Star cen­ter DeMar­cus Cousins will re­turn from a left Achilles ten­don in­jury. Du­rant no­ticed some­thing about Cousins’ progress, though, that sug­gests he will re­turn soon. And Du­rant does not need a med­i­cal de­gree to no­tice the trend.

“He’s just a lit­tle bit louder than usual. Ev­ery time he talks a lit­tle bit more, some­thing good has hap­pened,” Du­rant said. “That’s a good sign for us.”

Kerr no­ticed Cousins’ in­creased work­load dur­ing the past week when Cousins has par­tic­i­pated in fiveon-five drills. “He’s go­ing harder and is more ca­pa­ble of sus­tain­ing an ef­fort in longer pe­ri­ods of time,” Kerr said.

So what is the next step for Cousins? It will en­tail Cousins prac­tic­ing with the War­riors’ G-League team in Santa Cruz, pos­si­bly as early as next week.

“We don’t prac­tice much just like any other NBA team since we have so many games,” Kerr said. “He needs more in­tense and fo­cused prac­tice time. Hope­fully he can get some of that in Santa Cruz.”

Cousins might even play ac­tual games in Santa Cruz, sud­denly mak­ing that a mar­quee event for two rea­sons. One, Cousins’ younger brother, Jaleel, plays on the War­riors’ G-League team. Two, Cousins pre­sum­ably would ex­ert his pent-up en­ergy and dis­play his dom­i­nance against vastly in­fe­rior com­pe­ti­tion. The four-time All-Star could es­sen­tially com­plete the NBA’s ver­sion of a re­hab as­sign­ment of­ten done in Ma­jor League Base­ball.

“It’s a pos­si­bil­ity. We haven’t made any de­ci­sions yet,” Kerr said on whether Cousins would play a game in Santa Cruz. “We’ve got to help him be in the best pos­si­ble shape and mind­set when he first takes the floor for us. What­ever that takes.”

• Al­though War­riors cen­ter Damian Jones plans to re­hab a sur­gi­cally re­paired torn pec­toral mus­cle in six weeks, the War­riors are not ex­pect­ing him to re­turn for the re­main­der of the 201819 reg­u­lar sea­son.

“It doesn’t mean he’s go­ing to play,” Kerr said. “He can be­gin re­hab­bing in six weeks. But he’s out for five or six months.”

The War­riors do not have any cur­rent plans to sign any ad­di­tional cen­ters be­cause of pend­ing re­turns to Green and Cousins.

MORRY GASH — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

High-fly­ing An­dre Iguo­dala soars for a dunk in the first half Fri­day. Iguo­dala con­trib­uted a sea­son-best 15points in the win over Mil­wau­kee.

MORRY GASH — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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