Warriors

Warriors get glimpse of life without Steph in loss to Spurs

Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO -- Life came at the Warriors in a hurry without Steph Curry on Sunday night in their wild 110-108 last-second loss to the San Antonio Spurs. 

After the first quarter, the Warriors trailed by 14 points to the Western Conference's No. 11 seed in what looked like a blowout waiting to happen. They missed all four of their 3-point attempts, committed five turnovers and Jordan Poole -- who will have a much bigger target on his back in Curry's absence -- scored only two points. He and Klay Thompson combined for six points in the first frame and each missed their only 3-point attempt. 

Golden State's offense came to life in the second quarter, outscoring San Antonio 35-27. That cut the deficit to just six points as a plethora of Warriors started scoring. Seven Warriors scored in the second quarter, led by Thompson's eight points. Poole and Nemanja Bjelica added seven as well. 

"I love the way our team responded when we felt the pressure to respond," Kerr said. 

That wasn't the end of his quote, though. 

"I didn't love the way we played in the first half without a sense of urgency. We have to understand, and I told the guys this at halftime and after the game: We have to understand we're undermanned, there's 12 games left -- now 11 games left. Looking at the playoffs, there has to be a sense of urgency. There's got to be a sense of competitive fight that we take to the other team from the very beginning of the game, and I did not see that until it was really late in the game.

 

"These guys were great in that fourth quarter fighting like crazy. We got to fight like crazy from the start."

Teams will take advantage of Curry not being on the court, and the way that Gregg Popovich's squad came out of the gates could be a good indicator of what's to come. Poole and Thompson didn't answer the call early on and Andrew Wiggins scored only six points while going 2-for-7 from the field in the first half and missed his only 3-point attempt. 

The Warriors were finding other ways to stick around, scoring 18 points in the paint in the first quarter alone. It's no secret at this point that Golden State is smaller than most of its competition. But without the greatest shooter in the game's history, the Warriors went to work on the glass. 

They wound up outrebounding the Spurs 57-44 and had 52 points in the paint compared to the Spurs' 34. Otto Porter Jr. stepping up was a big reason why. The veteran forward scored 16 points off the bench, his most since Jan. 29, and his game-high 16 rebounds were a new career high. 

"Otto was great," Kerr said. "He's one of the smartest players I've ever been around. Just the way he rebounds, the way he anticipates plays before they happen, his weakside help is amazing. 

"I thought Otto was brilliant tonight. His efforts, unfortunately, didn't lead to a win but I thought he played a fantastic game." 

Curry wasn't the lone missing Warrior by any means. They also were without Gary Payton II, Moses Moody, Andre Iguodala, James Wiseman and two-way player Quinndary Weatherspoon. Everybody had to step up. The Warriors' bench did just that. 

Bjelica was a plus-10 with nine points, nine rebounds and six assists. Rookie Jonathan Kuminga was a plus-11 after scoring nine points and adding five rebounds and even two-way guard Chris Chiozza was a plus-2 while dishing three assists and swiping two steals. 

Not to mention, the Warriors were without Draymond Green for the majority of the second half. 

Green was given his first start in his third game back from a disc/back injury and was expected to play around 28 minutes. He finished with 18 after receiving his second technical foul and being ejected with 6:50 left in the third quarter. 

"We had to pick it up a little bit," Poole said. "He brings so much energy and leadership on the offensive and defensive end. We just needed to find a way to pick ourselves up when he went out." 

They certainly did, and the Warriors responded. They went on an 18-5 run to close out the third quarter and took an 84-83 lead into the fourth quarter, their first lead of the night. 

 

The new Splash Brothers of Poole and Thompson -- at least until Steph returns from a sprained ligament in his left foot -- combined to score 52 points. Poole scored 20-plus points for his ninth straight game, and 19 of his 28 points came in the second half, with 11 of those being scored in the fourth quarter. Wiggins scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half, and looked aggressive half the time and wore an invisibility cloak the other half. His free throw struggles came back to bite him at the worst possible time too, missing his second attempt with three seconds to go. 

A make would have given the Warriors a 109-108 lead. The miss allowed the referees to make one of several questionable calls, sending the Spurs to the free throw and keeping the game alive for just enough time as chaos reigned supreme and was the bane of a frustrating Warriors loss. 

RELATED: Kerr baffled by 'bizarre fouls' at end of Warriors' loss

The road only gets tougher now. Starting Tuesday, albeit a date with the 19-win Orlando Magic, the Warriors will begin a five-game road trip that includes two back-to-backs. Eight of their final 11 contests will be on the road and they still have games against contenders in the Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz. That same Jazz team, the No. 4 seed in the West, is now only two games behind the Warriors.

Blame the refs all you want. Get that off your chest, let your Twitter fingers go to work. The reality is, the Warriors' start couldn't have been much worse and it came back to bite them. 

"We didn't lose the game because of that," Bjelica said of the refs. "We started the game very bad. We tried to find reasons to react to try to win, especially when Draymond got ejected. But they're a good team. They're young, they don't have to lose anything. 

"We just need to look out for ourselves. We have a very tough road trip and have to try to prepare ourselves for the next three weeks when the playoffs start." 

The Warriors started slow, clawed back and it still wasn't enough. Not without Steph Curry. 

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