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What we learned from Warriors' heartbreaking loss to Spurs

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SAN FRANCISCO – With Stephen Curry sitting on the bench, his sprained right foot in a protective boot, the Warriors on Sunday set out to prove they can succeed in the heat of the stretch run without their catalyst.
The effort was gallant, but not quite enough to prevail.

Playing from behind for most of the night, they ended up with a 110-108 loss to the San Antonio Spurs when Keldon Johnson grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed Jock Londale free throw and banked in a five-foot shot with .3 seconds remaining.

Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson combined for 52 points to lead the offense, while Otto Porter Jr., with 16 points and a season-high 16 rebounds, made a massive contribution.

But 14 turnovers, giving San Antonio 22 points, was the root of Golden State’s undoing.

Here are three observations from the finale of a four-game homestand:

Klay’s Jackie Moon phase might have come to an end

After missing his first three shots in the second half, the last of which led to a Spurs layup prompting a Warriors timeout, Thompson yanked off the headband he has worn for weeks and flung into the crowd.
It was not replaced.

Whatever luck the headband had within clearly had evaporated. Thompson was visibly disappointed with his shooting the past two games – a combined 15-of-43 overall, 5-of-23 from distance. He was 5-of-13 on Sunday before dumping the headband.

Thompson’s 12 points in the second half – on four 3-pointers – were a big part of Golden State’s comeback attempt, which ultimately fell short.

He finished with 24 points on 9-of-22 shooting, including 6-of-12 from deep.

 

Poole under the microscope

With Curry out, opposing teams surely will devote more attention toward Poole, who for the first time since his emergence becomes a game-plan priority.

Starting at point guard, Poole seemed mostly unaffected. He scored 28 points, extending to nine his streak of games with at least 20 points. He was 11-of-21 from the field, 4-of-9 from beyond the arc, with five rebounds and three assists.

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If there was an encouraging sign for the Warriors, it was Poole – aside from committing four turnovers – thriving against a Spurs defense designed to limit his production.

Draymond’s ejection provides temporary boost

Disputing a foul called against him a little too vociferously for referee Marat Kogut, Draymond Green was slapped with a technical foul with 6:58 remaining in the third quarter.

Eight seconds later, with Green still expressing disbelief, Kogut nailed him with a second technical foul, warranting automatic ejection.

The Warriors, who were trailing 75-69, responded by closing the quarter with a 15-8 rally, taking a one-point lead (84-83) into the fourth.

Could they sustain the momentum? They actually did, outscoring San Antonio 39-35 in Green’s absence.

Green’s value to the Warriors should never be questioned, and certainly was apparent during his nine-week absence. His departure pumped some emotion into his teammates, but not quite enough to carry them to victory.