Warriors not feeling same pressure facing Hornets
The Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Hornets each lost Saturday night.
Bad news for the Hornets: The Warriors haven't lost consecutive games in nearly two months.
The teams meet for the first time this season on Monday night in Charlotte, as the Western Conference-leading Warriors start a four-game road trip on the East Coast.
"It seems like I tell our team every day -- the whole league has gotten better and everybody has been scheming and plotting and planning for us, for years now," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said after his team fell to 0-3 this season against the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.
"We can't ever expect anything to be easy. It's always going to be difficult."
While the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors will ultimately be judged by how well they do in the playoffs, Charlotte will be evaluated more on if it can simply get into the postseason. The Hornets' 117-115 home loss to Brooklyn on Saturday night prevented them from tying the Nets for sixth in a tight race for the final few spots in the Eastern Conference.
Charlotte rallied from a 19-point third-quarter deficit, led by eight with 3:12 to go, and then fell short in the final seconds when Kemba Walker missed a 3-point attempt on which the Hornets thought he was fouled by Caris LeVert.
"It's very difficult. It's difficult," Hornets coach James Borrego said on NBA.com. "These are the moments, your guys battle. We put ourselves in position to win. It's not easy out there. I understand it's a tough game to call, but this is extremely frustrating for our team."
The Warriors have not dropped consecutive games since Dec. 27, when they lost at home in overtime to Portland after falling to the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day.
There was some doubt about the status of Draymond Green, who left in the fourth quarter on Saturday with a left ankle sprain. Kerr said afterward the injury did not appear to be serious, and teammate Kevin Durant dead-panned: "He'll be back for the playoffs. I mean, that's the only thing we worry about here, right?"
After participating in all of Sunday's practice, Green was officially ruled probably to face the Hornets.
The loss to Houston -- which didn't have star James Harden -- was the first for Golden State when using the lineup of Green, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins. That starting five is 10-1.
The Hornets should be hungry, and Durant said the way to counter getting every opponent's best shot is to "work as hard as you can in practice, shootarounds."
"We are 42-17, so I'm sure guys have been doing that all season," he added, "but when you get to this stretch of the season, you have to do a little bit more."
Borrego has used a different starting lineup in the past two games, moving starting forward Nic Batum to shooting guard and inserting rookie Miles Bridges into the lineup. Guard Jeremy Lamb, who had started his previous 54 games this season, is coming off the bench.
That often pairs Lamb with veteran point guard Tony Parker, who is coming off a 21-point, five-assist effort against Brooklyn. Walker leads the way for Charlotte with 25.1 points per game.
The Hornets and Warriors split two games last season, with each winning on the other's home court.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 25, 2019