Balls: Kerr sends message, Warriors finally get it 

Well, well, well, look who had made an appearance on Saturday night. It’s the Golden State Warriors, remember them? Not the ones who sleep-walked through much of their first three games of the playoffs, but the Western Conference champions, the ones who sent the New Orleans Pelicans home for the summer.

For that, Steve Kerr deserves some credit.

Some critics still wonder what role Kerr had in team success this season. That was apparent in the recent Coach of the Year vote. Kerr didn’t have to say much in the regular season, but after his team played like a team with its hair was on fire two nights earlier, it was time to be heard loud and clear.

“Coach has been preaching that,” Stephen Curry said. “We walk the thin line using our talents all around the court and being reckless. We gotta have control of ourselves and control of the game.

“Early in the series, we were trying to throw the home run punch in the first three or four minutes of games, and that’s when you get out of whack and allow the other team to grab momentum. Once we calmed down ... Tonight we did our best job of doing that, making the simple play, moving the basketball and playing defense like we always do.”

From the first jump ball, the Warriors looked like their killer selves again. There was crisp ball movement and a slew of open shots. Result: 67 points, 25 field goals, 18 assists. They were guilty of only three turnovers. At the other end, they allowed only two 3-pointers en route to a 13-point lead. There were no nervous moments in the fourth quarter this time. The Warriors grew up a little bit more on Saturday night. So did their head coach.

REST IS BEST: The Warriors may be off as many as six days before their next series, which leads to the Rest versus Rust argument. Which is really no argument at all, really.

The layoff could do Draymond Green a world of good. He played the last three games on a bum left ankle, which he rolled in Game 2 at Oracle Arena. His shins also have been barking at him the last few weeks. Every game a team plays, the closer it is to a catastrophic injury.

Sure, the Warriors could be a bit out of kilter at the start of their next series. But they’ll also be fresher and healthier, which may turn out to be no small advantage.

NO CONTEST: Just when the Would-you-rather-build-around-Davis-or-Curry debate started to gain momentum, Curry provided an emphatic answer in the final two games of the series. As sensational as Davis was at times, he too often was a bystander late in games. Curry was clearly the best player on the court, and in the clincher, he did everything except serve beignets at the Cafe Du Monde — 39 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

Therein lies the fundamental difference between them — Davis relies heavily on teammates to get him the ball, while Curry requires no such assistance to be effective as a floor leader, shot-maker and ball distributor.

Don’t get Balls wrong here — Davis is a brilliant talent, already on a very short list of best big men in the game. In fact, there was a time when he would have been the pick here. But this isn’t your grandpa’s NBA, if you haven’t noticed. Now the pro game is all about moving the ball, spreading defenses and hitting the 3-pointer, skills that set Curry apart from Davis and everyone else.

FULL METAL(-HEADED) MONTY: The New Orleans Pelicans were at a distinct advantage in terms of playoff experience, but who predicted their head coach would be more clueless than anyone?

The Pelicans were most effective with a smaller line-up on the court, yet Monty Williams insisted that 7-foot plodder Omer Asik start every game. As Jon Barry pointed out on the ESPN telecast, Davis had a plus-22 point differential and scored 57 points when Asik was on the bench, while he was minus-26 with 33 points when the big guy was on the court. Davis fared much better when paired with Ryan Anderson, who came alive in the final two games.

Heck, the least the Warriors can do is give Williams a piece of their playoff shares.

CURRY IS MONEY: The Warriors weren’t the only team that Curry took to another level this season. Under Armour was in scramble mode after the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant bolted to Nike last summer, but Curry filled his shoes rather nicely since then. So well that the footwear-apparel company hopes to build a $1-billion brand around him.

Under Armour reported that its footwear revenue jumped 41 percent over a year ago, an increase that coincided with the debut of the highly popular Curry One signature shoe. Only Nike’s LeBron James model generated more interest among consumers.

The $1-billion question is whether Curry’s game and popularity will continue to grow at their current rate.

“Stephen Curry is a great player,” industry analyst Sam Poser said this week. “But it’s about whether he’s able to gain that iconic status where wearing his shoes is cool.” EDDIE O, ANYONE? The Sharks are trapped between a Zamboni and a hard place in their search for a new head coach. Not only do they need a mentor to develop younger players, but they also need an experienced hand who has the respect of the older ones. Those guys are difficult to find, not to mention a bit pricey.

So why not Ed Olczyk then?

Olczyk is one of the best hockey analysts around, but the NBC voice has made it clear that he wants to coach again. He and Sharks general manager Doug Wilson were Chicago Blackhawks teammates for two-plus seasons. Olczyk also has some experience at the position — he had a brief stint with a rebuilding Pittsburgh Penguins team, a situation not unlike what the Sharks face now. Olczyk doubles as a Blackhawks analyst, so he is well versed on their puck-control ways, the kind that Wilson would like to see more of in the future.

Wilson has hired only one head coach in 12 years, but he could have done a lot worse than Todd McLellan, who had never been an NHL head coach before. Given where the SJHCC is right now, Olczyk might be worth another roll of the dice.

THE LIST: Before their epic comeback in Game 3 , the Warriors were 0-358 in games they trailed by 20 points or more at the start of the fourth quarter in the shot clock era. A sample of things that were far more likely to happen:

Returning a kickoff for a touchdown: 270-1

Showering less than once a week: 100-1

Paying to see an Angelina Jolie movie: 86-1

Meeting your partner on a blind date: 34.5-1

Winning something in the lottery: 15-1

Eating cold pizza for breakfast: 3-1

Pelicans showing up for Game 4: 1-2

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to pladewski@sfexaminer.com and you may get your name in the paper one day.

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