Inside Draymond Green’s sideline convo with Steve Kerr that propelled the Warriors’ last win

SAN FRANCISCO — Draymond Green recently found himself in an unfamiliar situation: he needed to calm down Steve Kerr. The Warriors coach conceded after Wednesday’s win over the Charlotte Hornets, “I was pouting and my body language was terrible” during the opening stretch of the game that featured six turnovers in as many minutes and more giveaways than buckets.

The Warriors have emphasized ball control — to little avail, with the sixth-most turnovers the league — early on this season as they integrate newcomers and young players into new roles. The ball movement is there — an NBA-leading 29.3 assists per game — but it’s been a little too nonchalant, as witnessed in the opening stretch Wednesday night. Worse yet, it came after a pregame conversation about that exact topic. It had Kerr in a fury.

“We had spoken about it, and then we came out in that first quarter flipping them like hot cakes. The ball was all over the place,” Green recalled Friday before the Warriors tipped off against New Orleans. “He took the first timeout, and we spoke about it again. And we came out of that timeout turning it over even worse than we were going into the timeout.”

Kerr’s frustrations during the Hornets game were captured on camera, but even more often by his players, who looked to the sideline and saw coaches with hands raised or heads sunken. Green, who’s been known to wear his emotions on his sleeve, had some words of advice for his coach.

“When you look over to the side, it’s like the world’s collapsing,” Green said. “As we’re doing it, when you turn the ball over, I think a natural reaction from most basketball players is to look over at the bench.

And so you look over at the bench and Coach is like, ‘Ahh,’” Green continued, while burying his head in his hands. He began to pull his shirt over his head to mimic his interpretation of Kerr’s assistants. “So, like, (expletive).”

According to Green’s recounting, the conversation went something like this:

Green: We know we turned it over and we’re trying to fix it but we look over to the bench, and it looks like somebody died over there. It’s deflating.

Kerr: Well, I’m trying to stick with you guys. What am I supposed to do about the turnovers?

Green: Coach, if you want to, cuss us out.

Kerr: I already did that!

Green: Well, keep going. But if you keep dropping your head, it’s killing us.

“And his energy changed like that,” Green said. “And our energy changed like that.”

It worked out, as Golden State only gave it away 10 more times in the remaining 42 minutes of basketball and pulled away for an easy 114-92 win. Turnover concerns aside, this team has won six of its first seven games.

But their stated goal is to limit the turnovers to a dozen or fewer per game, something they’ve accomplished only once this season.

“We all know that this is something that can hold this team back,” Green said. “It’s not as if we’re going out there and purposefully turning the ball over. But that’s something that we’ve got to figure out.”

On Wednesday night, at least, Green knew from experience what the situation required.

Kerr was grateful for Green taking charge.

“It was not my best moment as a coach,” Kerr said. “It was great for Draymond to remind me that they need my energy, too.”

Said Green: “It’s like, that’s the leader of our group, and you look over and his head was down, you follow that. There are times when he comes to me, like, ‘Yo, you’re killing us. Your body language is terrible. You need to pick your body language up, and I can immediately see, when I pick my body language up, the whole team comes alive. And that’s what happened for us the other night. He picked his body language up, the coaching staff followed, the players followed, and we went on a roll.”

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