CHASE CENTER — With 22 seconds left on Monday against the Thunder, Warriors guard Ky Bowman weaved the ball between his legs looking to pull forward Danilo Gallinari out to the 3-point line.
Down by three points as the clock wound down, Bowman tried to draw what he perceived to be an easy shooting foul against Gallinari, only to put the ball on the ground as Golden State was forced to call a timeout with 2.2 seconds left.
Unable to get a quality shot off as the final buzzer sounded, a severely undermanned Golden State squad gave up a 13-0 run in the final 3:18 of the game, and despite impressive showings from its newcomers, fell to the visiting Thunder 100-97. Devoid of late-game execution, the Warriors are now 3-15 on the season after losing their third game in a row.
“We couldn’t handle their defensive pressure,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “They turned it up and forced turnovers,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “It was frustrating because we had the game right in our grasps. Just couldn’t finish it off.”
Before tip-off on Monday night, Kerr announced that starting forward Draymond Green would miss his third straight game with a nagging heel injury. Green’s absence left Golden State with only eight active players for the third straight game.
Despite the lack of depth, the Warriors were able to keep up with the Thunders’ pace in the early goings, unlike their previous two games in which Golden State was outscored 255-203 by the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz.
Bowman, an undrafted rookie out of Boston College, and six-year NBA veteran Glenn Robinson III took on the scoring load for the Warriors early on, combining for 34 of Golden State’s 59 first-half points.
“It’s just keeping it simple,” Robinson said. “This is the most shots I’ve been able to take in my career. I think the way that we move the ball and the positions that Steve [Kerr] have put me in and just being patient. I know I can shoot the ball, I know I can defend, run the floor. It just makes it easy.”
Both Robinson and Bowman went on to score 25 and 24 points, respectively — both career highs — but after leading by as many as 15 midway through the third quarter, in the late stages of the fourth, Golden State’s offense faltered.
After Robinson knocked down his third 3-pointer of the night with 3:18 to play, the Warriors found themselves unable to get clean looks at the basket.
They also turned the ball over twice, including a bad inbounds pass from guard Alec Burks that turned into an easy layup for Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The bucket narrowed the Warriors’ lead to one with 1:18 left in the game.
Leading Oklahoma City’s comeback effort was a familiar face for Golden State: Chris Paul, who was the recipient of resounding boos at Chase Center whenever he touched the ball.
In the final 3:18 of regulation, Paul scored five of his 20 points, including a 19-foot fade-away jump shot to put the Thunder ahead by one-point with 36.8 seconds left.
“Chris [Paul] is one of the best to ever do it,” Kerr said. “Chris has been closing games out for a decade-plus, and doing it better than just about anybody.”
Following a pair of Gilgeous-Alexander free throws, the Warriors had one last chance to tie the game and send it to overtime. But instead of calling a timeout to organize, Bowman took the ball down court to get Gallinari on a switch.
Pump-faking in an attempt to get the 6-foot-10 forward in the air, Bowman was forced to hand the ball off to Burks, who fell to the ground prompting the timeout with 2.2 seconds to play.
“I thought [Gallinari] was going to jump on the step-back,” Bowman said. “We had to get the three so I thought it was going to be three easy free throws. But I picked up my dribble and [Burks] was my last option.”
On the ensuing in-bounds play, Golden State got the ball to rookie guard Jordan Poole, who had his desperate, 29-foot shot blocked, ending the game in heartbreaking fashion.
“More than anything, I just feel sick for our guys,” Kerr said. “They deserve better but on the other hand, we weren’t good enough to close the game out and we didn’t deserve to win. We have to keep working and figure out how we can get better.”