SAN FRANCISCO – There are bad losses and worse losses, good wins and ugly wins. No ties in the NBA, but the Warriors created another category Thursday night.
Of the season.
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And Steve Kerr responded by plopping into a big tub of self-incrimination.
“This was my night to stink it up,” Kerr said.
Though 37 games remain on the schedule, it’s difficult to conceive of a more ragged performance in profoundly favorable conditions than that which the Warriors gave in a 121-117 overtime loss to the handful of Pacers scattered about the second half of the Indiana roster.
Stephen Curry’s crisp 39 points and his display of resolute will were not enough to separate the Warriors from a bunch of players unknown to most NBA fans. The Warriors, players and coaches, provided the sellout crowd at Chase Center with such an overload of nose-burning funk that it reached the nostrils of CEO Joe Lacob.
Golden State Warriors
“Don’t talk to me right now,” Lacob said after emerging from the team offices. “Don’t talk to me. I’m gonna go to my car and sulk.”
To be fair, this was after Lacob paused long enough for a cordial fist bump and a look of woe. He clearly did not wish to relive the events of the previous three hours.
Not that anyone else did, either, particularly Kerr.
“I blame myself, No. 1,” Kerr said. “I didn’t think I did a good job preparing the team to be ready to play. Anytime a team has half their guys missing (as the Pacers did), it’s the same old story in the NBA. All the guys who don’t play, they can wait to get out there. They made 15 3s. They just took it to us all night.
“I did not do a good of preparing the group and it was a struggle. We just couldn’t really get stops consistently and I give Indiana great credit.”
The Pacers were without the starting backcourt, as both Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert were ruled out before tipoff. Starting big man Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner were ruled out earlier. The most accomplished veteran on the floor for the Pacers was small forward Justin Holiday, normally the sixth or seventh best player on the roster.
It was Holiday who sent the game into overtime, drained a 3-pointer with 6.0 seconds remaining in regulation. Though Kerr said he normally prefers to foul with a 3-point lead in the final seconds, none of the Warriors showed any intent to do so.
“As far as the 3-point shot that tied it, yeah, I’m normally a fouler and I take the hit on that one, too,” Kerr said.
Curry, however, stepped in to defend his coach, admitting that it he was the defender who lost Holiday long enough to give him an open look.
“I looked at the ball for like two seconds,” Curry said. “J Holiday made a good cut and he made the shot. I know there is the conversation, ‘Should we have fouled?’ and all of that. I was just a step slow on that and gave him too wide-open of a look. I was trying to guard the inbounds and I got caught looking.”
It was Curry who kept the Warriors in the game. Playing a season-high 44 minutes, he was 6-of-16 from deep while his teammates were 3-of-26. A good percentage of the misses were open shots.
Told of Kerr pointing the finger at himself, Curry was not surprised.
“That’s his character to assume responsibility,” Curry said. “That’s part of our culture. We all have a tendency to look at yourself and what you could have done differently; I’m doing the exact same thing.”
Given this performance, almost certain to rank as the worst of a very good season, there was plenty of blame. No doubt, though, that when a 16.5-point favorite loses at home, there is no way for the coach – or the CEO – to escape the stink.