Steve Kerr eyes 500th coaching win as Warriors brace for Clippers

Feb 14, 2024, 7:00 AM

Head coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors looks on before a game against the Philadelphia ...

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - FEBRUARY 07: Head coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors looks on before a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on February 07, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr can reach his 500th career coaching win Wednesday when they take on the Los Angeles Clippers in San Francisco.

Kerr was credited with win No. 499 on Monday night in an unusual fashion — by watching from nearly 6,000 miles away after attending the funeral of former Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic in Serbia.

Kenny Atkinson moved to the head of the bench and orchestrated one of Golden State’s best team efforts, with eight players scoring in double figures in a 129-107 road win over the Utah Jazz.

Atkinson acknowledged afterward that this is an emotional stretch for the Warriors, who were in Salt Lake City last month when Milojevic suffered a heart attack during a team dinner. The game that night was postponed and has been rescheduled for Thursday, when the Warriors make a second trip to Utah in four days.

“Winning helps,” Atkinson said of dealing with the emotions. “When you’re starting to go on a little bit of a win streak, you want more. So there’s that enthusiasm. We also know we’re behind (in the standings). So there’s a little bit of an edge to us. A positive edge.”

The win pushed Kerr within one of becoming the 37th coach in NBA history with 500 victories. The New York Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau became the 36th earlier this season.

The Warriors have won five in a row heading into the finale of their four-game season series with the Pacific Division-leading Clippers, who have prevailed in two of the first three meetings between the teams. The home team has gone 3-0 so far, but with no win coming by more than eight points.

Los Angeles had its eye on finishing the first half with the best record in the Western Conference before falling 121-100 at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday. The Clippers still have a healthy lead in the Pacific Division, where the Warriors are dueling the Los Angeles Lakers for last place.

The Clippers shot just 40.5 percent from the floor against Minnesota in the loss, which was just their third in the past 13 games. Kawhi Leonard, one of the few Los Angeles players who didn’t struggle offensively on an 8-for-17, 18-point night, chose to focus on the big picture afterward.

“It’s important just to get better and get every win,” he said. “If it seems like we’re trending up with our play, then that’s what matters and that’s the carryover you need into the playoffs.”

Shooting accuracy has been the difference in the first three Warriors-Clippers contests, with Golden State holding a 50 percent to 44.2 percent advantage in its home win before Los Angeles shot 48.9 and 50.6 percent in its home games, bettering the visitors’ marks of 44.2 and 43.5 percent, respectively.

The Clippers rank among the NBA leaders in field-goal percentage for the season at 49.3 percent. But the Warriors have scorched the nets to the tune of 48.9 percent overall and 41.8 percent from 3-point range during their winning streak.

One other streak will be on the line on Wednesday if Golden State’s Gary Payton II takes the court for the third consecutive time since missing 16 straight games with a strained left hamstring. Payton has yet to miss a shot since his return, going 5-for-5 against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday, then 4-for-4 at Utah. He made his only 3-point attempt in each game.

–Field Level Media

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