After draining the 25-footer that snapped the Golden State Warriors’ seven-game win streak, Dion Waiters stood just behind the 3-point line, folded his arms and struck a pose.
“They were the smarter, tougher team tonight and that’s why they won,” head coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the Warriors fell to the Miami Heat 105-102. “And I know their record isn’t great — they have a lot of injuries — but they compete every night and that’s what it’s about.”
Waiters’ triple, which went down as the clock read 0.6 seconds on Monday night at American Airlines Arena, broke the 102-102 tie, but afterwards Kerr insisted that the long-range effort from the Heat shooting guard was not the reason the Dubs lost.
Playing the second-leg of a back to back, the Warriors wobbled through an underwhelming first half and failed to roar to life in the third quarter as they so often have on recent nights.
The team was ice-cold from distance throughout the evening, shooting 8-for-30 from beyond the arc — tied for their second-lowest percentage of the season. The Warriors’ shooting was especially suspect in the opening half when Stephen Curry went 3-for-6, but the rest of the squad was 0-for-9.
Staring at a 10-point deficit with just over four minutes to go, the Warriors finally hit their stride at the tail end of the fourth quarter.
Kevin Durant sank a 3-pointer — his only of the night — with 1:56 left on the clock to pull the Warriors within two, at 98-96. That’s when Waiters hit a pair of 3-pointers, the second of which came just before the buzzer, to sink the Warriors’ chances for a late comeback.
“We were great down the stretch,” Kerr said. “Waiters hit two unbelievably tough shots and we didn’t lose the game down the stretch. In fact, I was most pleased with the last three or four minutes of the entire 48. We lost the game, really, in the first 43, 44 minutes.”
Kerr went on to call out the team’s lackadaisical effort on defense and sloppy play on the offensive end.
“When you mess around and you don’t execute and compete as hard as you need to the first 43, 44, now you’re vulnerable to a tough shot, random plays — whatever,” Kerr said.
Curry, who nearly posted a triple-double, finishing with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists, echoed the assessment of his coach.
“We put ourselves in that position to allow those shots to affect the game,” Curry said. “So, we obviously played well, but we didn’t do anything to help ourselves the first three-and-a-half quarters.”
Klay Thompson, who went for 22 points — second only to Durant and his 27 — was guarding Waiters on the final possession. The bucket gave Waiters 33 points on the night, matching a career high.
“It wasn’t good defense,” Thompson said. “I’ve got to press up on him and make him go around me, use my length. And I made a big mistake. It costs us. [I’ll] learn from it and if we see them again, I’ll do that.”
dion waitersGolden State WarriorsKevin DurantKlay ThompsonMiami HeatNBAStephen CurrySteve Kerr