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Clippers roll Warriors in front of sparse crowd

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There was a cloud of uncertainty hanging over Chase before the Warriors 131-107 loss Tuesday. Sure, some of it had to do with whether Stephen Curry would suit up after missing the last game due to a virus. But most of it was centered on another virus and its effect on everyone else.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors locker room at Chase Center.
After all, it was just a day after the NBA and the three other major sports leagues adjusted their lockerroom access guidelines to allow only essential team personnel. But that wasn’t nearly enough and San Francisco officials had asked the Warriors to cancel their games. They played anyway, to a 50 percent-full arena. And that may be 100 percent greater fan attendance than could be in store for future NBA games as the league is toying with the idea of playing in empty arenas. And honestly, that’s probably the best outcome for Bay Area fans, both for their physical health and their mental wellbeing — saving them from watching this iteration of the Warriors in person. Eric Paschall said that while playing with no fans in attendance would be weird, it would still be doable:
“Obviously, we want our fans to be here and we play for our fans. But I think about it like college when you got those secret scrimmages at the beginning of the season and there’s nobody in the gym except for you and your team. But we’ll see what happens.”
That didn’t help anyone in attendance Tuesday, though. Those fans that did make it to Chase Center were forced to suffer through a Golden State thrashing at the hands of the Clippers, who scored 111 points in just three quarters. Steve Kerr said he noticed the dip in attendance and in turn, a drop in energy in the arena:
“Well, I don’t think we gave the fans much reason to cheer. I mean, we were down big right away. I thought it looked like the crowd got bigger as the game went on. I thought that as the game began, it didn’t look like there were many people here, and then later in the game it looked like it was much more filled in. But we were we were out of that game pretty quickly, so I didn’t expect to feel much energy from the crowd.”
Los Angeles shot an inhuman 50 percent from the field, 45 percent from 3 and 100 percent from the line. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard essentially had a load management night as they played an effortless 23 and 25 minutes respectively. They still combined for 38 points and systematically overwhelmed the undermanned Warriors. Kerr said that the 3-ball killed the team early:
“If there was anything I was disappointed in in the first half it was just our 3-point defense. I mean, the Clippers made some that we couldn’t do much about but there were a few that we didn’t close out to the shooters and I was disappointed in that. They took it to us and they’re obviously a great team so we got a little bit down but I thought our guys fought hard in the second half and stayed with it and that was important.”
No Curry or Draymond Green left Andrew Wiggins and nine other healthy bodies to try and keep up with the NBA title contenders. That number immediately decreased when Juan Toscano-Anderson, who had started the last five games, rolled his ankle just 50 seconds into the game and never returned. Wiggins did his part to keep this game respectable. He poured in 21, while shooting 3-of-8 from 3, and had a monster dunk over 7-footer Ivica Zubac, but that was essentially the only thing that brought the all the fans to their feet, save for the fourth quarter buzzer. The Warriors couldn’t stop anyone in a white uniform and this game was out of the Warriors grasp roughly five minutes into the game. But that led to some intriguing minutes for Dragan Bender. Bender’s fit with the Warriors looks good on paper, but he hasn’t translated that to the court very often. He was shooting just 31 percent from deep and turning the ball over 1.6 times per game, not great for someone who is supposedly a stretch big. He had his best offensive game for the Warriors Tuesday though, with seven boards, three assists and a career high 23 points, shooting 2-of-5 from distance. Bender also showed off a more aggressive game inside, and that led to him getting to the line five times after shooting just nine free throws through his first 15 games this season. Bender said it was by far his best game so far:
“Definitely was, they had two kind of slower bigs who were dropping down a lot so definitely good for me to just pick-and-pop and catch off the dribble. Guys were doing a really good job of just moving the ball around and getting me a lot of open shots.”
It also helped that he was out there mostly as a center, which is when he’s been his most effective after Marquese Chriss banged knees with George and was limping around the court. Chriss did return and play 27 minutes, he finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds and immediately tried to throw down a tip dunk, so he looked to be fine. That’s a sigh of relief for the Warriors who cannot afford any more injuries — even though there might not be any fans to see who’s on the court anyway.

Up Next

The Warriors’ next game is Thursday against the Nets, but with a mandatory conference call scheduled for Wednesday regarding the League’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, that may be in doubt.

Notes

Mychal Mulder signed a non-guaranteed multi-year contract before the game Tuesday to keep him in Golden State at least through the end of the year. Mulder drew his second straight start in place of Curry, but had his roughest game as a Warrior shooting just 1-of-9 from the field.
Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.
Curtis Uemura

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