With Curry out due to injury, and Green absent after getting ejected in the third quarter, the Warriors (47-24) battled the San Antonio Spurs (28-44) to the last second before falling just short, 110-108.
It was a gritty performance from the rest of the Golden State roster to even be in the game late.
The closing minute, though, turned into a ref show with the Spurs being whistled for a seemingly phantom call on Andrew Wiggins to give the All-Star two free throws with just three seconds to go in the tie game.
Wiggins unsurprisingly split the pair, as he’s shooting just 63 percent from the line on the year and an abysmal 39 percent since February 1.
Poeltl also split the free throws, but a ricocheted rebound landed straight in Keldon Johnson’s hands ,and a little hook shot gave San Antonio the win.
It was a disjointed ending to a disjointed game for the Warriors.
Steve Kerr was shocked after the game at both calls:
I thought the two fouls at the end were bizarre, bizarre fouls… I don’t know how those calls can be made… I don’t understand how we can decide the game based on plays that have nothing to do with the game.”
Obviously, no Curry hurts the team’s offense and it showed early as they ended the first quarter without any made 3’s or made free throws, the first time that’s happened in eight years.
The Warriors also faced a deficit of 14, as they couldn’t score and they couldn’t stop the Spurs.
They battled back on the efforts of Otto Porter Jr. who finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive glass.
He seemingly came up with every rebound in his vicinity and his pure hustle almost pushed the team to the win.
Kerr heaped praise on the veteran forward after the game:
He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever been around. The way he rebounds, the way he anticipates plays before they happen. I thought Otto was brilliant tonight.”
He got help from Jordan Poole, who is going to be the primary shot creator now that Curry is out for an extended period of time.
Poole poured in 28 points and was essentially the Warriors only offensive weapon.
Kerr said while his team responded well, it came too late for his liking:
I love the way our team responded when we felt the pressure to respond. I didn’t love the way we played in the first half, without a sense of urgency. We have to understand we’re undermanned…there has to be a sense of urgency, there has to be a sense of competitive fight that we take to the other team. And I did not see that until it was really late in the game.”
Klay Thompson scored 24 of his own, but on another inefficient night.
It’s Poole who is the drink stirrer now and the Warriors are going to need to play through him.,
Even on nights that Green won’t be sent to the lockerroom early, Poole is going to be the barometer for how this team looks from game-to-game.
And they’re going to need him continuing to ride this hot streak if they have any hope for attaining home court in the playoffs.
Golden State embarks on a five-game road trip, with their first contest all the way across the country when they take on the Orlando Magic and their the second-worst record (19-53) in the NBA.
James Wiseman was scratched from his scheduled game in the G-League and his return has been paused, after the second year big man experienced swelling in his surgically repaired knee. The Warriors will wait to make a decision on if he’ll be shut down for the rest of the year since there are just 11 games left in their season.