The Warriors got a wake-up call Wednesday night. They answered but couldn’t muster enough of a response to fight off the more muscular and advanced Los Angeles Clippers.
Despite coming back and taking a lead early in the fourth quarter, they were unable to sustain that surge and wound up with a 108-101 loss at Chase Center.
Stephen Curry, often hounded by multiple elite defenders – Patrick Beverley, Paul George and Nicolas Batum to name three – finished with 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting, including 1-of-6 from distance. Curry left in the final minutes, walking off with a slight limp.
The problem was that nobody filled the scoring void. Kelly Oubre Jr., coming off his best offensive game thus far, totaled eight points on 4-of-13 shooting, including 0-of-6 beyond the arc. Andrew Wiggins had 19 points, making 8-of-12 shots.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ first encounter with a legitimate Western Conference power:
Second-unit juice ran out
Down six entering the fourth quarter, the Warriors opened with a second unit featuring Brad Wanamaker, Damion Lee, Kent Bazemore, Andrew Wiggins and Eric Paschall.
That group went on a 12-0 run, quickly wiped out the deficit and built a six-point lead with 8:59 remaining.
The Warriors couldn’t sustain it once the starters for both teams reentered. With Batum looking revitalized after his forgettable years with the Hornets, draining a couple key 3-pointers from the corner, the Clippers rebuilt their lead to nine (106-97) with three minutes left and held on.
With all of the tinkering with rotations, Warriors coach Steve Kerr may have found something with the group that played with passion and purpose.
Paschall consistently making an impact
Even as Kerr has tinkered, at least one spot seems solid: Paschall has seized the role of small-ball center with the second unit.
In the first half, which the Warriors spent trailing because they couldn’t toss a bar of soap into a bathtub from 15 inches away, the 6-foot-6 New York native kept them in striking distance with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He finished with a season-high 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting, and three rebounds.
Paschall entered with a five-game streak of scoring in double figures, averaging 12.4 points while shooting 65.7 percent.
With Marquese Chriss out an extended period after undergoing ankle surgery last week, Paschall’s emergence has been a been timely.
Rook goes to class
James Wiseman has, in many ways, been a revelation, particularly considering he had no training camp and has been in the starting lineup every night.
On this night, he went to NBA school, with veteran Clippers big man Serge Ibaka administering most of the lessons.
Wiseman was consistently outmuscled by the brawny Ibaka, who is 31 years old and slightly shorter but owns a much more developed physique than the 19-year-old. The rookie often wound up frustrated, forcing up shots and mishandling the ball, resulting in turnovers.
On a night he should remember for his own progress, Wiseman played 18 minutes and finished with 10 points (5-of-10 shooting) and four rebounds.