Kevon Looney battles through pain but Warriors come up short

Kevon Looney battles through pain but Warriors come up short

ATLANTA – Kevon Looney hobbled down the long hallway past the Atlanta Hawks’ locker room Friday night, stopping only to sign basketballs for two enthusiastic boys, before he took a seat in the visitor’s interview room.

“I’m a little sore,” Looney admitted after the Warriors’ taxing 127-119 loss. “But I’m overall pretty good.”

Back pain had landed Looney on the team’s injury list heading into Friday’s matchup against the Hawks. But this was another must-win road game for Golden State, which was already undermanned.

With Draymond Green serving a one-game suspension for racking up 16 technical fouls this season, Looney felt the onus to set the tone defensively against the Hawks. So Mr. Reliable battled through, back pain and all, to extend his regular-season game streak to 182.

“Loon brings it every night,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s gonna battle, he’s gonna be out there… making the little plays and he was fantastic.”

Looney set screens, blocked four shots and corralled 16 boards in a regular-season career-high 18-point showing against the Hawks, but his efforts alone weren’t enough to overcome the rest of the team’s reccuring issues.

With only 11 games remaining in the regular season, it’s clear that the run that the team and fans have been waiting for may not come. The Warriors are just trying to avoid the play-in tournament at this point. Their dream of securing home-court advantage isn’t quite out of reach, but their inability to win on the road makes that goal feel impossible at times.

The Western Conference playoff picture is tight, and Looney has been keeping tabs.

“These road losses are not going to help us, I know that much,” he said.

Despite losing two straight, the good news is that the Warriors are tied with the Dallas Mavericks for fifth place in the West and can still avoid the play-in tournament all together. It helps that the Minnesota Timberwolves lost in double overtime to the Chicago Bulls and the Houston Rockets stunned the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

The bad news is Golden State plays six of its last 11 remaining games on the road, where the Warriors have struggled all season. And the stakes seem to be getting higher as each day goes by.

The Warriors’ game in Dallas on Wednesday carries extra weight — the tie-breaker is on the line. Before that, they’re scheduled to play Saturday in Memphis, where they were blown out not even two weeks ago, before heading to Houston on Monday.

The Warriors know what they need to do to win on the road. The keys of the game are written in dry-erase markers on boards in every locker room they set up shop in for the night, yet on the road, they rarely find themselves on one accord for a full 48 minutes.


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