All around Bankers Life Fieldhouse there were symptoms of what ailed the Warriors, with two clearly more significant than the dozen or so others.
There was Draymond Green’s atypically low-energy first half, when he grabbed exactly zero rebounds.
And there was Klay Thompson’s uncharacteristically empty second half, when he scored precisely 0 points.
Can anything anybody else did possibly matter?
The Warriors followed up one of their most encouraging wins of the season, limping into Oklahoma City on Tuesday and holding off a Thunder squad with an urgent need to win game, by strolling into Indianapolis on Thursday and allowing the Pacers to snatch their lunch bags and use them to slap the defending champs upside their heads.
Steve Kerr was livid and made no attempt to conceal it after a 126-106 loss to Indiana, which had much more at stake and performed with appropriate vigor.
“Yeah I’m mad,” he said, a hint of despair in his voice. “I’m embarrassed. I know this game doesn’t mean anything in the seeding, but the playoffs start next week. It was an embarrassing effort. Pathetic effort.”
A coach is always displeased when his team doesn’t look like itself.
Green is the hub of so much of what the Warriors do. He’s the energy guy. The playmaker. The emotional leader, the spiritual touchstone and, of course, the fire-breathing catalyst of a defense that will have to carry them for a few more weeks, until Stephen Curry returns to complete the offense.
That Green managed zero rebounds in the first half -- he grabbed three in the second -- tells you he was not himself.
This is not the guy that grabs the Warriors by their collective collar and drags them toward victory, forcing them to keep up, until they finally do.
Pacers power forward Thaddeus Young was infinitely better than Green on this night, and there aren’t many nights when that can be said.
Green played 29 minutes, contributing 9 points -- making all three of his shots and both his free throws -- five assists, three rebounds, one block and two turnovers. He finished minus-16.
Thompson doesn’t say much, but we’ve seen him enough to recognize he usually finds his best self when the task is most challenging. His job was to make life difficult at both ends of the court for Indiana star Victor Oladipo.
Thompson was a decisive winner in the first half, outscoring Oladipo 16-7, but faded badly after intermission. Oladipo won the second half 14-0. Thompson was minus-14 over 30 minutes, Oladipo plus-27 over 33.
Oladipo is a terrific young player have a fabulous season. He was named to the All-Star team for the first time this season.
Thompson is having a season that measures up to what he is, a four-time All-Star who has earned two championship rings. He generally looked like that guy, but only for a half.
It’s easy to look toward Kevin Durant’s missed shots, and there were a bunch of them on a night when he never found his usual efficiency. He was not himself, either.
But Green and Thompson don’t do zeroes. They don’t pick up goose eggs. They don’t go ghost in categories of the stat sheet that helps define who they are.
Sure, the Warriors had too many turnovers. They were outshot, outrebounded, outhustled and outsmarted. Durant said the Pacers “came out with a better strategy and being more aggressive than us.”
The defense the Warriors so desperately need, and was there for them on Tuesday, failed miserably on Thursday. The Pacers in the second quarter scored on eight consecutive possessions, totaling 18 points in less than four minutes. Indy needed sa little more than four minutes to go on a 17-1 run in the fourth to bury the Warriors.
That only happens to the Warriors when they don’t look anything at all like the team they know they are the one the NBA has come to expect.