Steve Kerr still believes in his defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors’ postseason chances.
The trick may be getting there.
Trae Young’s steal and layup with 45 seconds remaining protected Atlanta’s slim lead and the Hawks took advantage of Golden State’s continued poor perimeter defence on the road to beat the Warriors 127-119 on Friday night.
Stephen Curry scored 31 points in Golden State’s 10th consecutive road loss. The Warriors (36-35) hold the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, only a half-game ahead of Minnesota.
“I really think a lot of good is coming our way down the stretch, but we’ve got to get there,” Kerr said.
The Hawks led 123-119 before Young’s steal from Curry, and layup stretched the advantage to six points.
“They were trying to get the switch, trying to get the mismatch,” said Young, who had 25 points with 12 assists. “I just timed it perfectly.”
John Collins had 22 points, and Onyeka Okongwu added a season-high 19 as Atlanta snapped a two-game losing streak to remain eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. Bogdan Bogdanovic, who signed a $68 million, four-year extension on Thursday, had 14 points while sinking four 3-pointers.
The Warriors were without forward Draymond Green, who served an automatic one-game suspension without pay after being called for his 16th technical foul of the season in Wednesday night’s 134-126 loss at the Los Angeles Clippers. Green drew the foul when he threw the ball off Russell Westbrook’s face late in the game.
Jonathan Kuminga scored 10 points as the fill-in starter for Green.
The Warriors fell to 7-28 on the road. They are 29-7 at home.
“It’s not mental,” Kerr said of his team’s road struggles. “I think we’re competing. We’re playing pretty well. It’s hard to win on the road in this league. We’re just not getting it done.”
Kerr said before the game “there’s really no precedent I know of” for his team’s drop in production on the road. He described the Warriors’ poor 3-point defence in road games as “mind-boggling.”
Golden State’s opponents have made only 32.4% of 3-pointers in the Warriors’ home games, compared to 40.8% on the road before facing Atlanta. The Hawks made 16 of 41 3s (39%).
Asked before the game if he believed his team could solve its road woes, Kerr smiled and said: “I’m confident in the playoffs everybody is going to start missing 3s against us. I’m a believer.”
STEALS AND TURNOVERS
Young’s key steal was one of seven for the Hawks. The Warriors committed 17 turnovers, leading to 21 Atlanta points. The Hawks had 11 turnovers, leading to nine points.
“At the end, that was kind of the difference but I can’t fault the effort,” Kerr said.