PHOENIX — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr slammed his team after a recent blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers but has since said he “chose my words poorly” and expounded on why he was so harsh.

Kerr said Thursday after a 20-point loss to the Pacers in Indianapolis that “caring in general was the main problem.” Before the Warriors faced the Suns on Sunday in their final road game of the regular season, Kerr sought to clarify his remarks.

“My main message is we’ve got to defend,” Kerr said before the Warriors’ 117-100 win over the Suns. “We’ve got to get back to being a top-five defensive team. I probably chose my words poorly in Indianapolis. When I said they didn’t care, that didn’t mean that they didn’t ‘care.’ What that meant to me was they didn’t box out. They didn’t get in the passing lanes. They didn’t compete at a high level. But when you say someone doesn’t care, that can be interpreted as maybe you’re questioning their character.

“I think everybody knows how I feel about our guys. They’re an amazing group, and they’re a championship group. So I probably chose my words poorly. But what I’m trying to remind my guys of is in order to win in the playoffs, you better be defending at a high level — and for the most part this year, I think we have, but the last eight, nine games, we have not. It’s not just that simple that you can flip the switch. That’s why I snapped. But you guys know me. I usually break two clipboards a year and yell at the team once, so my quota is now used up.”

Kevin Durant agreed that the Warriors’ defense has been up and down.

“We can be a lot better, and that’s the good part about it,” Durant said after Golden State’s win Sunday. “I think it’s more so talking it out, preparing the right way, seeing how we’re going to guard different actions. We’ve got smart guys in this room who are physically and mentally up to the challenge. We might have had some struggles here lately, but for the most part, I think we’ve got guys that know exactly what we need to do when Coach puts the game plan together.”

He added, “I think we’ve all got great intentions and want to do well out there, and we care about playing defense. That’s the thing. The strategic part of it is something that we also got to get better at, but if it was a lack of spirit and care, I would be concerned. It’s more so knowing what we have to do strategically to do it.”

The Warriors have been plagued by injuries to key players and are 7-9 since March 9.

Kerr praised his squad after Saturday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

“I think it just shows who I am,” Kerr said of his back-and-forth remarks. “I’m just all over the map: You guys are good. No, you stink! No, you’re good! It’s been that kind of year for all of us.”

It was noted to Kerr that his postgame comments Saturday were “kind and gentle” compared to two days prior — and then he was asked whether “kind and gentle” could be the title of a future memoir.

“No, my wife would have the title for my memoir,” Kerr said with a laugh. “She uses it on me sometimes at home. To paraphrase a poem, I think it was a British poet [John Dryden], maybe in the 18th century: ‘Beware the fury of a patient man.’ And she’s right. I’m extremely patient. But sometimes, a clipboard must break.”

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