SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors unveiled their new palace Saturday night by doing very few of the things that made them great and many of the things that reiterate their newness, as well as that of Chase Center.
There were sloppy moments and woeful shooting and more defensive lapses than they’d commit in most any week of the previous five seasons. There was an acute rebounding deficit, the Warriors going minus-eight in the first half and minus-11 for the game.
They opened by missing their first 10 shots, the first of them a Stephen Curry air ball.
“I was just going to shoot it up, christen Chase Center the right way,” Curry said. “Obviously, I didn’t want an air ball. But I thought it was fitting to take a wild shot like that and get everybody excited.”
The Warriors closed the night with a 123-101 loss to a Lakers team that, to be honest, treated the early moments of this preseason opener as if it were Game 1 of a postseason series and they were intent on setting a relentless tone.
And all of it, every single minute offered by the Warriors, was oh so predictable.
These Warriors have been together as a team for less than a week, and some players and coaches still are uncertain if they’re calling the right person by the right name.
As if that weren’t enough of a change following five years of relative stability, some of the Warriors have been dropped into completely new surroundings foreign to the game-day routine they’ve adopted for years. They barely know how to get to Chase Center, much less how to find anything once they step out of the locker room.
“It’s still weird,” Curry said. “You’re used to certain sights and sounds, just the routine from pulling up to the parking deck and to our locker room and all of that type of stuff. And you get out to the floor and you want to feel like it’s normal, but it’s not.
“We’ve got two more preseason games to get a little more familiar before the 24th [opening night], but it’s beautiful. It’s got a lot of potential to create an amazing environment, an amazing homecourt advantage. I’m excited about the possibilities. Again, just getting used to it. We need some reps, and tonight was a good step.”
A good step? More like a necessary step. Prior to warming up ahead of the 5 p.m. tip-off, the Warriors had been on the Chase Center floor exactly once. They practiced on it Friday simply to become semi-familiar with the floor and the sightlines. Depth perception is another matter, because it can’t be measured without fans in the seats.
There were 18,064 (a sellout) in the house, some there to see Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who quickly took command of the proceedings, pushing Los Angeles to leads of 11-0, 23-7 and 33-16 late in the first quarter.
For the Lakers, this was another road game. It just happened to be in a building they’d never seen. They kept it simple and played basketball.
The Warriors, however, had to adjust to the sight of James and Davis as Lakers teammates and ignore the pomp, as well as that new-house smell. For some, like rookies Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall, this is the only NBA arena they know; both played well. For the coaching staff, as well as veterans such as Draymond Green and Curry, this was a night three years in the making.
A night they know opens a new chapter for the franchise.
“It was great,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of the Chase Center unveiling. “Really good energy. A packed house. The crowd was fantastic. It seemed like everybody, including the players and coaches and officials, everybody, was sort of looking around. We’re all so used to Oracle, and we’ve had so many great memories of Oracle, the first night here just felt strange.
“It still feels strange, being up here, instead of our cozy little room across the hall at Oracle.”
It all felt strange, from Kerr’s room-to-room pregame search for his assistants, to the Curry air ball, to the uneven vibe of the crowd, to the fact that the Warriors never led. That’s a new look and, even in a preseason game, not one that's positive.
“We haven’t found our rhythm yet. And our routine,” Kerr said. “And that’s going to take some time.”
No doubt, Coach. No doubt.