OAKLAND — A Warriors practice typically ends around 11:45 a.m.
But, after losing two of their past three games — one against the Utah Jazz, and one against the Denver Nuggets, two ordinary teams — the Warriors practiced until 12:15 Monday afternoon.
“We’re trying to get back to building habits,” head coach Steve Kerr said after practice. “We have gotten into some bad habits of late, something we need to work on, some defensive stuff, just trying to reinforce fundamentals. We got some shots up, broke a sweat. It was good.”
Back to basics for the defending champs.
In the losses to the Jazz and the Nuggets, the Warriors played terrible defense, allowing 122 points per game. They also got outrebounded 90 to 79. They seemed gassed.
“Look,” Kerr said. “Every team in the league goes through this stretch in January where you’re just kind of tired and you need a break, you need some rejuvenation. The All Star break absolutely provides that. And so, you’ve got to get to that point.
“We’ve got a unique set of circumstances, too, going to the Finals the last three years, and every game that we play on the road is circled on the calendar by our opponent. Teams come after us.
“Right now, we’re a little bit on our heels instead of being the aggressor. It feels like we’re responding to the other team’s first blow. Even though our record is great and we’re doing fine, we’ve had some slippage and we’ve just got to address that. It will come.”
One player who’s had slippage: forward Andre Iguodala.
A 34-year-old former Finals MVP, Iguodala is having the worst season of his career. He is shooting an abysmal 23.4 percent from behind the 3-point line and playing a career-low 25.6 minutes per game. He signed a three-year, $48-million contract with the Warriors just a few months ago.
During the three-game road trip the Warriors just finished, Iguodala was a non-factor. Against the Jazz, he played fewer than 21 minutes, had four points, three rebounds and one assist. Against the Sacramento Kings, he didn’t play — the Warriors rested him.
And against the Nuggets, he again played fewer than 21 minutes, had five points, one assist and one rebound, and sat on the bench during crunch time instead of playing as he almost always does. Nick Young took Iguodala’s place in the crunch-time lineup. After the game, Kerr said he wanted another shooter on the floor.
“I think Andre looks great,” Kerr said on Monday. “He looked really fresh in Denver the other night. I think it was good for him to have the night off in Sacramento. I’m excited for Andre. I think he looks really good physically. He feels good. I think he’s going to have a good stretch run.”
Kerr sees Iguodala benefitting from the All-Star break. Ditto for the entire team.
“I’d like to see us come back from the All-Star break and really turn it up. But for now, we’re going to continue to talk about the issues, not grind (the players) to death, but keep them mindful of what we’re trying to accomplish and take advantage of these next four games at home and try to get back on track.”
After Kerr finished, Warriors guard Stephen Curry came to the media table and spoke specifically about how the team can get back on track.
“Boil it down to the possession game. That’s turnovers and controlling the glass. And then our defensive intensity and focus, and the consistency of that game to game.
“(Kerr) showed a stat that we’re 14-3 in the 17 games since I’ve been back (from injury). And we’ve only won the possession game two times out of the stretch. It’s good to hear, because we know that’s something we can control — finding a man, putting a body to body, controlling the glass, stopping people from shooting 3s the best we can and defending the 3-point line, and then not turning the ball over. Those are all things for the most part we can control.
“If we’re 14-3 with not doing those things, well, that definitely bodes well for us to elevate our game once we start looking forward to the playoffs.”
The Warriors can elevate their game this week. They have a four-game home stand against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns. Then, they have one road game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Then, they have the All-Star break.
“We want to go into the break with a good vibe,” Curry said. “I remember 2016 (when the Warriors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals). We talked about chasing 73 (wins) and all that tough stuff, but we weren’t playing great basketball to end that regular season.
“We were doing just enough to win games. We scratched and clawed our way to the Finals again but, looking back, we didn’t have the right habits and perspective about how we were playing. That’s all the reminder I need.”
Back to basics.