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Led by peculiar quartet of coaches, Warriors douse Suns

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The Warriors figured out something Monday night. Something that many other teams have figured out recently.

The best way to cure-all the ills of a grueling stretch of games is to play one of the worst teams in the NBA. Golden State got its mojo back and more with a 129-83 win over the lowly Phoenix Suns (18-40).

And while the Warriors (44-13) looked like the team of old on the court, it was something new on the sideline that demanded all the attention. Steve Kerr didn’t run a single huddle, instead handing the clipboard to a contingent of veteran players.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors’ locker room at Oracle Arena.

Andre Iguodala, David West, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry each took turns running the huddles and drawing up adjustments.

Kerr said this decision was made after the last game, adding that the players had run shootaround and practice leading into the contest:

“It’s their team, I think that’s one of the first things you have to consider as a coach. It’s not your team, it’s not (general manager) Bob Myers’ team, it’s not (majority owner) Joe Lacob’s team — although I’m not going to tell Joe that — it’s the players’ team, it’s their team.”

He added:

“They have to take ownership of that, and as coaches our job is to nudge them in the right direction, guide them, but we don’t control them. They determine their own fate and I don’t feel like we focused well at all the last month and it just seemed like the right thing to do.”

Curry led the way — on the score sheet — with 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists and sat out another fourth quarter.

But Curry was critical of himself on the bench:

“I was horrible, actually. I thought about a play and then I forgot the second option and had two guys in the wrong place on the board. I actually got a delay of game coming out of halftime because I was scrambling.”

Just 29, Curry has some time to work on his coaching and play design abilities before that option becomes a true opportunity.

Statistically, He was joined Monday night by Kevin Durant who shot 8-of-9 from the field and Klay Thompson who scored 16.

While some outside of the organization might find what Kerr did disrespectful to the Suns, the coach said it was more about his own team:

“I told (Phoenix head coach) Jay (Triano) afterward that people may make a big deal out of it, (but) it had nothing to do with me being disrespectful, it had to do with me trying to reach my team. I have not reached them for the last month. They’re tired of my voice — I’m tired of my voice. … I wasn’t reaching them and we thought it was probably a good night to pull a trick out of our hat and do something different.”

And while playing the Suns helped revitalize the Warriors defense it also did wonders for a couple struggling players.

Omri Casspi busted out of his season-long slump with 19 points and 10 rebounds and even shot 1-of-2 from deep, after being reluctant to even attempt a 3. Casspi drew the start for he injured Green and look infinitely more comfortable than he has been recently.

Casspi said it’s been a rough stretch for him, but he’s trying to fight through it:

“It felt like the last month or so, I’ve been dealing with a lot on and off the court… I put a lot of effort into spacing the floor more and shooting more 3’s. You guys that come to practice, you guys see me over there in the corner trying to shoot a lot more. And get back into being more of what I used to do, and add that to the cutting and moving also.”

The coaching staff and fans alike have been imploring Casspi to shoot more 3’s all season and they got their wish Monday. As a career 37 percent shooter from long-range, he has the ability to stretch the floor for the Warriors but lately has spent much of his time cutting and clogging the lane instead.

If he can continue to be a threat from the outside, the Warriors will be a much better team.

Patrick McCaw — who sent himself down to the G-League for two games — looked rejuvenated on the court as well, despite having played in games in five straight days.

He was more aggressive than he has been all season and got up six shots in just eight minutes before leaving the game with a sprained wrist. He also hit his first 3-pointer of the new year, and first since way back on December 27.

McCaw finished the game with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting.

The Warriors left Monday, not only with a renewed energy and confidence, but perhaps a couple new coach of the year candidates. Steve Kerr strikes again.

Up next

With just one game before the All-Star break, the Warriors take to the road for a strange one-game road trip to Portland and take on the Trail Blazers (31-26) Wednesday.

Notes

Draymond Green sat out Monday’s game with a sprained left index finger. He is expected to be back for Wednesday’s game against Portland, but it also wouldn’t be surprising to see him sit out the last game and get to the All-Star break. … The Warriors blocked 17 shots Monday, which is the 18th time this season that they have topped 10 blocks in a game. Golden State leads the league in blocks, averaging 7.8 rejections per contest.


Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.

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