Game story for tomorrow’s paper
Tuesday’s 119-116 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder was a microcosm for the Warriors’ season thus far, as they failed to capitalize on a grand opportunity.
The Warriors got a career-high 48 points from guard Monta Ellis. Forward David Lee recorded his second-career triple-double (23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists). And the Warriors put a scare into the arguably the best team in the Western Conference.
But when it came down to the end, the Warriors did what it took to lose. Even at home.
Golden State turned it over six times in the fourth quarter. After shooting 59.7 percent through three quarters, they got jumper happy and went 7 for 18 in the fourth, including five missed 3-pointers and just six points in the paint. Ellis, down one with nine seconds left, wound up taking a contested 3-pointer.
“Our effort was there,” Ellis said. “We played them hard the whole game. It came down to one shot. … It was a great shot. Nothing you can do about it. It didn’t go down. It is what it is.”
As a result, the step-back jumper with 14.2 seconds left by Thunder star Kevin Durant, who scored 12 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, proved to be the game-winner.
Tuesday’s loss to Oklahoma City was the Warriors’ 14th home game of the season. That means more than 60 percent of their games have been at home. In the past, that would’ve been good news for the Warriors, as Oracle Arena had become one of the toughest places in the league to play. Not so much this year.
Golden State is 6-8 at home. With the toughest part of the schedule still to come, Golden State finds itself well behind .500 and buried at the bottom half of the Western Conference.
“We have not taken advantage of our schedule,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “That’s the real answer. And it’s going to be challenging going forward.”
Tuesday’s performance, for the most part, makes that reality all the more frustrating. They’ve played well enough to beat Chicago andMiamiat Oracle. They’ve had a chance to win others, but failed to capitalize.
The Warriors gave one away to Orlando. They suffered close losses to Utah and Indiana. They blew a big fourth-quarter lead vs. Memphis. Then they missed a chance to upset Oklahoma City, which won in overtime at Portland the night before.
Considering the Warriors’ struggles on the road (2-6 thus far), it stands to reason they’ll pay for those later.
“We have some things we’ve got to pick up,” Lee said. “The rebounding, and then the turnovers we need to get better at. We fix those two areas, I don’t think it matters where we play – home or away. Because teams aren’t beating us, we’re beating ourselves.”
That proved to be true Tuesday. Golden State won the battle of the boards (36-33) and, most of the game, limited their turnovers. As a result, the Warriors led 93-91 through three quarters. They were shooting 59.7 percent entering the fourth quarter.
The Warriors led by as much as seven twice in the fourth quarter – 105-98 after a layup by Ellis, then 107-100 after a jumper by Lee. Minutes later, a three-point play on a runner by Ellis put Golden State ahead 112-108 inside of four minutes left.
But that lead didn’t last, thanks largely to six fourth-quarter turnovers.GoldenStatewent the next three minutes without a point, allowing a 7-0Oklahoma Cityrun – capped with an emphatic dunk from Durant. Golden State trailed 115-112 with a 1:23 left.
After Dorell Wright split a pair, Golden State reclaimed the lead on a three-point play by Ellis. The Warriors led 116-115. But Durant responded by banking in a jumper from 18-feet out with 14.2 seconds left.
Ellis had his chance to answer, but his 3-pointer clanked out with 4.9 seconds left. Free throws by Oklahoma Cityguard Russell Westbrook put Golden State down by three, and Brandon Rush’s last-second attempt was blocked by Durant.
“When you talk about being a playoff team, you take care of business at home and you give yourself a chance on the road,”Jacksonsaid. “We’ve had opportunities at home and we didn’t capitalize on it to the fullest. That being said, we feel extremely confident that if we play the way we’re capable of playing, it doesn’t matter whether we’re home or away. We’ll be fine.”
Warriors backup guard Nate Robinson missed the game Tuesday because of a strained left hamstring. That meant the DubStitutes had a new addition: rookie point guard Charles Jenkins.
“I’m not afraid to throw him out there,” Jackson said. “Works his tail off. Plays like a veteran. Not afraid of the moment.”
Jenkins started during the eight games Curry sat out with a sprained right ankle. As a starter, he averaged 3.9 points and 2.2 assists in 14.8 minutes. Since then, however, Jenkins had totaled just over three minutes in two games. He played three minutes against the Thunder and didn’t score.