Everything about Warriors forward Dorell Wright suggests gritty. The scruffy beard, the scowl, the tattoos. But especially his game.
Wright plays with an edge -- a whatever-it-takes kind of resolve. Now, if he can only infect the entire locker room.
"You've got to try to keep developing it because some guys don't have it," said coach Keith Smart, whose squad visits the Los Angeles Lakers tonight. "But maybe they can have it collectively as a group. Trying to get a personality change, that doesn't happen over night.
"That's not an issue with him. He already has that, because of where he's played and also just growing up. He's a competitor."
Wright is leading the charge to make over the Warriors' style of play. No longer do they want to be known as a finesse team that lives on explosiveness and scoring power. Smart wants the culture to change. But Friday's 125-119 loss to visiting New York shows how much work Golden State has to do in that department.
The Warriors allowed the Knicks to shoot 57.1 percent and dish 31 assists, a season-worst in each category. The Warriors managed just seven steals, their lowest in six games, and tied a season-low with two blocks. Their 33 rebounds were a season low.
But the numbers didn't reveal what the film did. According to Smart, a loose ball late in the game, with the Warriors down two, was scooped up by the Knicks as two Warriors watched.
"We've got tough guys," Wright said. "But we've got to be the type of team where we bring it every night and change our profile. People think when they walk in here we're going to give up a lot of points and try to outscore you.
"That's where you get your toughness from -- holding teams to 40 percent (shooting), getting huge stops at the end of the game, getting all the rebounds, getting all the 50-50 loose balls, talking charges, putting our bodies on the line. If this group of guys stays together, we can eventually become that. We're not there right now."
Golden State has shown grit in spurts. The Warriors rallied to get back in the game after trailing by 18 against the Knicks on Friday night, and did the same at Milwaukee on Nov. 13 before losing by seven.
But that kind of edge, the kind Smart said Wright and guard Monta Ellis have shown, has not become the norm. That is evident in some of the slow starts that have plagued the Warriors.
"I don't think we're tuned into the game," Ellis said, explaining the slow starts. "I think we have to really be (behind) or (Smart) has to get into us before we really start playing. So we've got to approach the game now like we're down 20 when it's 0-0, so we can come out with the same defensive mentality and the same energy we get in the third and fourth quarter."
Note: Forward Brandan Wright, who did not play in the past two games because of a coach's decision, did not make the trip to Los Angeles because of a lower back strain. An MRI revealed disk inflammation.
Warriors at L.A. Lakers, 6:30 p.m. CSNBA