Referee Mark Ayotte blows his whistle more than almost any other striped man in the NBA.
It was in full-on foghorn mode Friday night, and while the Golden State Warriors lost 109-106 to the Boston Celtics (44-32), the 21 turnovers that resulted in 25 Celtics points hammered home the death knell, as sloppy play and shooting percentages that weren’t very Warriors-like presaged the defeat.
This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors locker room at Oracle Arena.
Officials called nine fouls on the Warriors (68-8) in the third quarter alone, with Ayotte calling Anderson Varejao on two of three fouls in the quarter, while replays showed zero contact. On two of the three, Varejao was more than a foot away from the supposed victim.
Celtics guard Isiah Thomas dove into the knees of Draymond Green, with no other Warriors player in the immediate vicinity, and Green was called for the foul.
But that’s not why the Warriors lost. Guard Leandro Barbosa explains:
“I just think that when the game is like that, both teams are trying to get a win. And play really, really hard. I mean, that’s how it goes. We just got into the game too late.”
21 turnovers to 24 assists — while Boston only commits 14 turnovers and hits home 28 assists. Golden State’s 11 second-chance points were trumped by Boston’s 14.
Not to mention the Celtics’ 46 points in the paint, with the Warriors only scoring 30, and team field goal percentages that mirrored one another.
Head coach Steve Kerr said:
“You have to be the aggressor. You have to put them on their heels with good sharp cuts. And I thought the whole game, until the last five minutes, Boston was the aggressor. We were fouling like crazy. They were defending without fouling. We weren’t cutting or screening, and doing the things we normally do.”
Stephen Curry tried to take over the game during the final two minutes. He made his presence felt, but the production didn’t match the intensity. And nearly hit the shot that would send the game into overtime.
“All things considered it was a pretty good look. Harrison Barnes had a rebound and an opportunity to get a good look behind the three-point line to get one more shot, but that’s how the game goes. We’ve gotten away with some games that we probably shouldn’t have won with shots like that and tonight it wasn’t our night.”
He finished the night with 29 points, six assists, five rebounds and nine turnovers, while Green scored 16 points, with seven assists and nine boards.
And that’s how the Warriors took their first regular season home loss since January of 2015.
“As I said before, it’s more about basic execution. And we have been slipping over the last couple of weeks. … We’re not sharp with our offensive stuff, and it’s not an excuse, but we haven’t had a whole lot of practice. And we really need to get back to practice some of our stuff.”
The Warriors haven’t had more than one day in between games dating back to the first week of March, and they won’t for the remainder of the season. Which limits their chances to practice, especially down the stretch when everyone on every team is worn down.
“That’s the NBA. Everybody can talk about the schedule. Everyone goes through the same thing, and has injuries. You’re not displeased with anything, you’re just playing the season and getting ready for the playoffs.”
Despite the several negatives, there were several positives — or reasons why the Warriors stuck around. Draymond Green recorded a career-high tying six steals. Barbosa scored in double figures, leading the bench in scoring with 10 points.
And Curry went 6-for-6 from beyond the arc, passing Glen Rice for 20th all-time in career three pointers made.
But Boston had more to boast about. Three players — Thomas, Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger — scored 20 or more points. And of course, control of the game for the majority of the night.
“We haven’t had that feeling in over a year here, outside of the playoffs, so it is kind of weird being in that vibe. We’re just trying to win and not worry about the record per se. … There’s a reason why, in 20-plus-years, nobody has been able to put together a season like Chicago did that one year.”
“We didn’t play the way that we needed to play to win the game. There’s been quite a few games this year when we’ve played that way and we found a way. It finally caught up to us. It never feels good, but at the end of the day, you need those lessons. You can’t turn the ball over 22 times and win the game. And we’ve done that multiple times and still won. Yes, you need those lessons but it doesn’t feel good.”
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Warriors.