OAKLAND, Calif. -- As the Golden State Warriors continue to try to find a better defensive rhythm heading into Friday's showdown with the Denver Nuggets, Warriors forward Draymond Green wanted to make something clear on the heels of Tuesday night's embarrassing 33-point defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics: Don't just blame DeMarcus Cousins for the Warriors' woes.
"I think so many people are kind of looking at the starting lineup and saying, 'Oh, DeMarcus is in there and the defense is worse,'" Green said after Wednesday's practice. "But our defense has been horses--- no matter who's in there. It's easy to look at the numbers and think the numbers tell a story, but the fact of the matter is we haven't been competing."
Cousins, who returned to action on Jan. 18 after missing almost an entire year while rehabbing an Achilles injury, has played in just 17 games with the Warriors. He is averaging 15.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, but opposing teams have repeatedly attacked him on the defensive end. For his part, he is not outwardly concerned about his defensive issues, chafing when the question was posed after Tuesday's blowout loss.
"It's an adjustment trying to figure things out," Cousins said after the Celtics game. "In how we want to play with the coverages. I'm trying to meet the needs in the coverages that they want."
The Warriors go into Friday's matchup with the Nuggets with a 109.5 defensive rating, which ranked 16th in the league entering Wednesday. Both Green and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr seemed pleased with the group's attitude both during and after Wednesday's film session and practice, with Green noting that "a lot of people spoke up, which was good."
"We sucked," Green said of the loss to the Celtics. "We got embarrassed. But it's just about competing. I don't think we came out with the right intensity level, playing with that competitive spirit that we needed to play with in order to win games at a high level. We just got to compete. We compete, can't nobody beat us. And even sometimes when we don't compete people still can't beat us, but we need to compete."
Aside from defending Cousins, Green took personal responsibility for trying to get the entire team to play better defense.
"It falls on me to get guys to lock in on that side of the ball," Green said. "I haven't done a good job with that because we're clearly not locked in on that side. That directly falls on me. Sometimes in life you got to make people do what they necessarily may not want to do. Defense is usually one of those things ... so I have to focus on that and do a better job at that."
Kerr admitted that after the kind of embarrassing defeat against the Celtics, both he and his players had to do a little soul searching. The Warriors come into Friday's game having lost five of their last eight games.
"I think just coming off a loss last night forces you to take a look in the mirror. Whether you're a coach or a player or anything within the organization, we all have to look at ourselves. I definitely did that last night. I didn't like what I saw in terms of my own coaching job last night. So we came in, had a good film session, talked about our flaws, where we need to get better. And we had a good practice, so hopefully that will carry over to another good one [Thursday] and then a good game on Friday. We'll try to rebuild the momentum that we've lost here over the last few weeks."
Green said the short-term goals for the rest of the regular season are simple.
"We need to execute better," he said. "We need to defend better. And we need to get home court. We don't need to get home court, but we want to get home court."