SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors opened Chase Center on Thursday night with a performance they’d like to forget, and their fans couldn’t bear to watch.
The Los Angeles Clippers rolled in and spoiled the event, piling up a quick early lead and never being threatened, sending the sellout crowd to the exits early and leaving the Warriors to slog into the showers with a 141-122 loss.
Steph Curry scored a team-high 23 points, with D’Angelo Russell tossing in 20. Second-year guard Jacob Evans III and rookie forward Eric Paschall each put in 14, while Glenn Robinson III had 13 and Draymond Green totaled 11.
The Warriors’ defense is expected to be an area of concern and the Clippers exploited it, shooting 62.5 percent from the field, and pouring in 46 points while pulling away in the third quarter.
Here are three takeaways from Game 1 of the new era:
Doomed by an ice-cold beginning
The Warriors desperately wanted to make a positive first impression for fans flocking to the new place. They failed miserably.
The first three-plus minutes were about as bad as possible for a team opening a new arena. While the Clippers were rolling up 14 points, the Warriors were missing their first six shots.
That’s a wrap when facing a Clippers team with such stellar defenders as Kawhi Leonard, Lou Williams and Maurice Harkless.
The Warriors got no closer than four points in the first quarter, no closer than six in the second and spent the second half trying to avoid a blowout.
They failed, as LA maintained a very comfortable lead over the final 24 minutes.
Looney leaves, could be out a while
Kevon Looney missed all five preseason games with a strained right hamstring. He started at center and lasted 10 minutes before leaving after aggravating the hamstring.
The Warriors aren’t ready to put a timetable on his return, but hamstrings require considerable caution. It’s conceivable that Looney won’t be back until sometime next month.
He was solid while he lasted, particularly in the paint, grabbing nine rebounds -- including five on the offensive glass. He also swished his only 3-point attempt.
Looney’s presence is significant for team continuity -- he’s one of five healthy Warriors that were on the team last season. Moreover, he is crucial to their defensive integrity.
Until 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein is cleared to play, which should be fairly soon, the Warriors will rely mostly on Marquese Chriss and Omari Spellman to fill minutes at center.
Veterans are trying to set examples
The healthy pillars of the roster, Curry and Green, understand the predicament they’re in. They know they have to teach and lead and show their new teammates their standard for effort.
So, there was Curry in the first quarter, chasing a loose ball and diving out of bounds. He didn’t succeed in gaining possession, but the crowd took notice and so, to be sure, did the young Warriors.
When Green left the game in the first quarter after sustaining a right elbow contusion, it was announced that his return was to be determined. After getting his elbow taped, he returned in the second quarter and didn’t hesitate to draw a charge on 6-8, 230-pound JaMychal Green.
That’s the kind of pluck the vets want, and need, from the youngsters. There’s no better way than by showing them how it’s done.