Now it’s getting real.
The Warriors went to Indiana and faced a playoff team, perhaps a squad that can make some noise. They played a team looking to get/stay on all cylinders. It required the Warriors to play at another level. They couldn’t reach it.
Assuredly, winning at Indiana was a tall order, so the 108-97 loss, snapping their three-game win streak, was no shame. But do the Warriors have another level for these last 28 games?
Certainly, the rest of this trip they will get teams rounding into postseason form (or in Philadelphia’s case, trying to get into the playoffs). The Warriors will have to handle the physicality, the intensity. They will have to play with poise and focus.
It’s clearly time to tighten ship.
STEPHEN CURRY: “Teams are gearing up for playoff basketball, ramping up the intensity a little bit. It’s going to happen. It’s healthy just to not back down, be physical. You’d like to not see that tussle happen. But for the most part, it was just a good, clean physical game that we have to expect for the rest of the year.”
More on Tuesday’s defeat …
MVP: Stephen Curry
He was a major part of the reason the Warriors’ lost, posting a team-high six turnovers. But he was the one advantage the Warriors had over the Pacers on Tuesday and he milked it well. He posted a season-high 38 points on 14 of 20 shooting, including a season-high 7 3-pointers. He also gets a bonus for being willing to throw himself into (and be thrown around in) the scrum.
MDP: David Lee
Jarrett Jack (2 of 10 shooting, 5 TOs) nearly got the nod. But Lee was dominated by David West, who had 28 points on 12 of 16 shooting) and he couldn’t get anything going against the physical, sizeable frontline of the Pacers. And Lee is kinda the one who started the scrum.
KEY MOMENT I: Golden State trailed 31-25 after the first quarter, but led three minutes into the quarter after a Curry fade-away capped a 7-0 run.
Pacers forward Danny Granger stopped the Warriors’ spurt by splitting a pair of free throws. But the Warriors ran off six more getting back-to-back 3-pointers from Curry and Thompson. The Warriors led 38-32.
During this run, the Warriors put together five straight stops and held the Pacers to one point in eight possessions.
TELLING STAT: The Warriors totaled 16 points in the paint. That’s lowest for any Pacers opponent this season. Golden State missed 16 of its 24 shots in the paint, many of them layups. The Warriors now have 52 points in the paint over two games, on 39.4 percent shooting
YEAH, WHAT HE SAID: “Seriously, I didn’t even feel him. He just ran up on me. I don’t know. It’s between me and David Lee and he wants to get involved. … I don’t want to start anything with someone that’s smaller than me. If I have somebody my size, we’ll talk it out like men. I don’t take pride in tossing a little guy to the side.” — Pacers center Roy Hibbert
KEY MOMENT II: With 6:10 left in the game, and the Warriors down 95-85, Lee and Hibbert exchanged shoves under the basket. First Hibbert flashed into the lane and collided with Lee. Lee took exception and pushed Hibbert seconds layer. That’s when Hibbert turned around and went straight at Lee, and the two rammed into each other like beefing goats.
The real drama began when Curry grabbed Hibbert. The 6-foot-3 guard was seemingly trying to get the 7-foot-2 center off Lee. But, apparently, Hibbert doesn’t like gnats so he just flung Curry to the ground.
Curry popped back up and went at Hibbert again. So Hibbert shoved him aside again. And it was on.
Hibbert was pushed again, by Klay Thompson, sending the big man into camera row. Paul George was doing his best to hold back Curry. And when David West got into the picture, he was like a bull in a china shop, pushing the whole mess into the stands. The crowd collapsed on Curry and his lone protector, Andris Biedrins.
When the dust settled, Hibbert was ejected and Curry, Lee, West and Klay Thompson were hit with technical fouls.
SERIOUSLY?!: With 20 turnovers on Tuesday, Golden State now has 42 turnovers in two games. They have led to 61 points for the opponent. Of the 42 turnovers, 29 have been committed by Curry (12), Lee (10) and Jack (7).
LEE: “Turnovers were a big problem once again. Overall they outplayed us. They had more guys contribute than we did.”
KEY MOMENT III: After the scrum, the Warriors had the deficit down to 96-87 after a pair of Jarrett Jack free throws.
West scored a layup to start a game-clinching run. After a turnover by Lee, West drilled a turnaround jumper from 14 feet. Jack missed a floater and West answered with another jumper. A Lee turnover then set up a pull-up jumper from George to give the Pacers a 17-point lead.
BEFORE YOU GO: Lee was experiencing stiffness and soreness in his left shoulder after the game. He could barely lift it. He said it was initially injured in the second quarter, when Pacers swingman Orlando Johnson bullied through a screen and rammed into Lee’s left shoulder. But I wouldn’t bet on Lee missing his return to New York. He doesn’t miss games, but he’d have to be really hurt to miss this one.