ORACLE ARENA — The Warriors just couldn’t get it done Thursday night, losing 104-102 at home to a Spurs team lacking their three best players.
The Spurs walked away with the win after a fourth quarter battle left many scratching their heads about the Warriors future.
San Antonio went into Thursday’s contest severely depleted, playing without veterans Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
During his pre-game interview, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said he knows better than to underestimate the Spurs no matter their roster situation:
“They are still a dangerous team. … In the past they have been shorthanded and they find a way and it was business as usual.”
Unfortunately business as usual for the Warriors has become committing turnovers, allowing teams to score off those turnovers and losing down the stretch. Currently the Warriors lead the league in turnovers committed (467) and opponent points off turnovers (508).
Jackson told SFBay the unforced errors and carelessness with the basketball have to change if the Warriors are going to turn things around:
“We have to value the basketball. Every single individual on the floor. Eliminate the careless plays and make sure that you are efficient with the basketball. We are not doing that and it’s hurting us bad.”
The Warriors used an early 10-0 run to gain a 23-11 lead with 3:03 left int the first quarter. Spurs guard Marco Belinelli who finished the night with a career-high 28 points answered with his own 7-0 run, cutting the Warriors lead to just five.
Golden State reserves Marreese Speights and Toney Douglas helped put the Warriors up 30-20 with 9:50 left in the first half, forcing a timeout from Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
Speights hit a jumper with 8:59 in the half, extending Golden State’s lead to 14 points, their largest of the night. It was immediately cut to 11 after Kawhi Leonard completed a three-point play.
Leonard continued to get to the free-throw line trying to get the Spurs back in the game. Sparked by Leonard’s aggressive play, Danny Green followed suit with a steal and three quick buckets making it a one-point game.
After a missed David Lee layup, Leonard hit a short jump-shot in transition for the Spurs first lead of the game with 5:19 left in the half.
The final five minutes of the half saw eight lead changes and six missed Golden State buckets, while San Antonio scored 35 second quarter points including 14 from Leonard.
With just over one minute before halftime, Andrew Bogut took an inbound pass only to have it stripped away by fellow Australian Patty Mills, who stepped back and hit a wide open three-pointer.
The Spurs headed into halftime leading 53-51, after trailing by 14 in the second quarter.
The Warriors took the lead back early in the third but quickly fell behind as the Spurs exploited turnovers and missed Golden State buckets.
The Warriors committed their 17th turnover with 4:44 left in the third that resulted in the Spurs taking a six-point lead.
Turnovers — which have been a problem for the Warriors — plagued them in the second half of Thursday’s game. They ended up with 24 turnovers on the night, many of them costly.
Popovich said the Warriors turnovers allowed the Spurs to win the game and that his team benefitted from how awful the Warriors played in the third quarter:
“If anything could have gone wrong in the third quarter for them, it did, and we were unbelievably fortunate. I’m not being generous, I’m just being truthful. They had wide open shots that didn’t go down. They had turnovers…The Warriors had a bad night.”
The Spurs maintained their lead throughout the third quarter, and after a trey from Cory Joseph, San Antonio went into the final frame with an 82-74 lead.
Coming out of intermission, Draymond Green forced a turnover then nabbed a steal as the fourth quarter began, trying to give the Warriors a defensive spark.
With Curry, Lee, Green, Klay Thompson and Kent Bazemore on the floor, Golden State’s tone started to change.
A Bazemore driving lay-in brought the Warriors within three, and Lee put in a two-handed slam to make it a one point game with 8:55 left to play.
Curry sent a lob to Lee to tie the game and from there the score went back-and forth for the next five minutes. With just under five to play and an opportunity to take the lead, Curry was called for an offensive foul as he drove into the paint.
After a chaotic defensive possession, Lee finally gave the Warriors a lead with just under four minutes left, only to be followed by a foul charged to Bogut and consecutive free throws made by Splitter for another lead change.
Multiple opportunities to take the lead were squandered by the Warriors and Boris Diaw slammed in the ball for a 102-99 lead with 47 seconds left.
After missing a floater, Curry got the ball back and sent in a calculated three to tie the game with 28 seconds left.
With 2.1 seconds on the game clock, Tiago Splitter tipped in a missed put-back from Diaw while Bogut and Green scrambled, failing to come up with a rebound and the Spurs took a two point lead.
Bogut said it was a tough play that he would have to re-watch, but bad play earlier in the game was where the game was lost:
“That’s what everyone will look at but we didn’t lose the game with one or two plays in the fourth quarter, we lost the game in the first three quarters.”
After leaving the arena, Bogut continued to air his disappointment in how the team played via twitter:
The Warriors were unable to inbound the ball within reasonable range on the final possession, and Curry was forced to heave the ball from 32 feet out, missing terribly to close the game and tweeted out his own frustration on the night:
Bad bad bad
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) December 20, 2013
The Warriors, now 14-13 overall, finish their home stand against the once-again Kobe-less Lakers on Saturday at 7:30 pm.
The Warriors turned the ball over 24 times, resulting in an opponent season-high 31 points. … Warriors center Andrew Bogut, Spurs guard Patty Mills and center Aron Baynes became the first trio of Australians to start a game in NBA history. … The Warriors sold out their 50th consecutive game (including 2013 playoffs). … Andrew Bogut totaled wight points and a season-high-tying 18 rebounds to go with two steals and three blocks in 32 minutes for his seventh consecutive game with double-digit rebounds. … David Lee finished with a season-high 32 points to go with 13 rebounds for his 11th career 30-point, 10-rebound game and seventh straight double-double. … Patty Mills finished with a season-high 20 points, his sixth career 20-point game, with four coming against Golden State.