NEW YORK — Oakland, we have a problem. Klay Thompson can’t shoot. That’s right, Thompson — he of the career 41.9 percent 3-point percentage — has lost his jump shot. Entering Sunday afternoon’s matchup against the Brooklyn Nets, the Golden State Warriors guard had connected on a Josh Smith-esque 12.9 percent of his threes. Against Brooklyn, Thompson took five shots from distance — and bricked four of them.
Time to panic, right Steve Kerr?
“We’ve seen this before,” the Warriors coach said. “Sometimes the very beginning of the year is like that. You get off to a rough start and it snowballs. Then you stop and go, ‘There are like 75 games left.’ The dam will break. He’ll start going nuts again.”
Golden State, your Warriors are embroiled in a Hollywood feud. Last week, actor Josh Duhamel — the ex-husband of pop star Fergie — criticized Draymond Green for laughing during Fergie’s performing of the national anthem during the 2018 NBA All-Star Game.
“I thought he was kind of a [expletive],” Duhamel told FS1. Fox News picked it up.
The Warriors’ response? A handful of Golden State players — including Green — posted a video of the team dancing to a remix of Fergie’s All-Star Game performance.
So, whose idea was that?
“It was a group effort,” Kevon Looney said. “We were all talking about it, then Draymond was talking about it, and then Steph [Curry] played the song, and then everybody said let’s do a dance to it.”
The NBA season is off to a terrific start. Scoring is up, and teams are playing at a breakneck pace. Kawhi Leonard has transformed the Toronto Raptors into a terrifying Finals contender, Mike Budenholzer has been the Kerr to Jason Kidd’s Mark Jackson in Milwaukee, and Utah has patiently put together a team that should challenge for the No. 2 spot in the West.
But for the third year in a row, it’s crystal clear: No one is touching Golden State.
The team that GM Bob Myers built is 6-1 after Warriors weekend in New York. The Dubs sleep-walked through three quarters against the Knicks on Friday, trailed by three entering the fourth … and won by 28. The Nets fell behind by 19 in the first half Sunday, showed some chippiness in the third, cut the lead to single digits in the fourth before absorbing a 120-114 defeat.
Looking for Kevin Durant free-agency drama? You won’t find any. Durant has made it clear he doesn’t necessarily want to talk about his upcoming free agency, but won’t shy away from questions about it either, and neither he nor his teammates seem the slightest bit bothered by it. They snickered at the billboard near Madison Square Garden that begged Durant, Donald Trump-style, to “MAKE N.Y. SPORTS GREAT AGAIN,” while running roughshod over a Knicks lineup that resembled a summer-league squad.
“The way he’s handled it, obviously letting his play speak for itself,” Curry said. “Not getting too wrapped up or involved with it, understanding we got seven more months of this, so we know how to keep distractions out of our locker room and just play basketball and enjoy what we do.”
Looking for signs of strain from several years playing together? It’s just the opposite. Scouts who have seen the Warriors say they have never seen them play so freely.
“They are so relaxed out there,” said a Western Conference scout. “When guys don’t like playing together, you can tell. There were times last year when I wasn’t sure how much they liked playing together. This year, they just look like they are really enjoying themselves.”
Said Durant: “Everything is a little fresher than it was last year. The enthusiasm is there every single day … on the court we play with swagger and edge and a little anger sometimes. I think that’s good for us.”
Curry and Durant have never seemed more in sync. On Wednesday, Curry dropped 51 in a win over the Wizards. On Friday, it was Durant’s turn, with Durant annihilating the Knicks with 25 points in the fourth quarter. On Sunday it was both Curry (35) and Durant (34) leading the way.
“One thing that makes them pretty unique is that they are both big-time superstars and yet each is perfectly willing to sit back and let the other one do his thing,” Kerr said. “That kind of unselfish nature comes so easily to them. It’s a dramatic dynamic for our team, when no one is feeling upset that it’s not their night, when they are actually feeling the opposite, when they are encouraging the other guy to go nuts and they are feeding them the ball. That’s part of the power of our team.”
Two straight championships, three in four years and does anyone think the Warriors are not going to add a fourth trophy to the mantle? Could complacency cause problems this season? Maybe — it’s hard to get up for a January date in Sacramento, after all. Kerr says there aren’t any new tricks to try to keep the team focused. Durant says preparation is the key. But the Warriors also have a handful of new players (Jonas Jerebko, Alfonzo McKinnie) to energize the rotation and at some point during the season they will add All-Star DeMarcus Cousins to the mix.
So enjoy Utah, Toronto and Milwaukee. Be wowed by what Anthony Davis is doing in New Orleans. Brace for a midseason surge from Boston. League pass every game in Los Angeles.
But for the last two seasons the NBA has been Golden State’s league, with everyone playing for second place. Two weeks into this one, and it’s clear nothing has changed.
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