So the pulse raced a bit. What’s going on out there, you were thinking. The Warriors weren’t really going to lose a regular season home game, were they? Of course not.
Look, every painting can’t be Picasso. Every game can’t be memorable. They don’t give style points in the NBA. The only thing that counts is the final score, which Tuesday night at the Oracle was W’s 102, Washington Wizards, 94.
There was a tense moment or three. Perfect for TNT, which was showing the game to a nation. It was late back East, almost 11 p.m., at tipoff. How to keep the viewers awake and interested? Got it, the Warriors fall behind, 46-37, with only three minutes in the first half. Great idea. But what then?
How about the Warriors running off 12 straight points, Draymond Green, Steph Curry, even Shaun Livingston, going wild, and Golden State leaving the court at halftime with a 49-46 lead.
It wasn’t over then, but anybody who’d been following the W’s — meaning most of the country — knew it was over.
Knew no matter what would happen from that point the Warriors had won their 54th straight home game.
Knew they had locked up their 67th win of the season and with eight games left on the regular schedule, including tonight’s at Utah, had a wonderful chance to break the Chicago Bulls’ NBA record of 72 wins.
“It’s surprising where we are right now,” Steve Kerr, the head coach said of the 67 victories — equaling last’s regular season total. “We’re cruising. It’s awesome.”
That wasn’t the word he applied to the stagnant minutes late in the third quarter, after the Wiz broke a 35-35 tie to lead by nine.
“We were kind of stuck in the mud,” said Kerr. “I went to the small lineup.” Which, because Andre Iguodala is injured and unable to play was Green, Curry, Klay Thompson, Livingston and Harrison Barnes — a semi-small lineup.
In the end, Curry had 26 points and Thompson, who had scored 40 each in the previous two games and started quickly in this one, had 16. Green scored 15 and had 16 rebounds and nine assists, missing his 13th triple double by one rebound.
“Draymond,” said an appreciative Curry. “Everybody knows how much he does. Plays center against guys five inches taller, makes plays, sets screens.”
Kerr said parts of the game, the Warriors’ poor segments, had him irked, if only slightly.
“I get more frustrated,” he said, “but I try to temper the frustration because I know how deep we are into the season. Still, when you have four guys picking up at the three-point line and nobody guards the guy at the rim it is frustrating.”
The usual sellout crowd of 19,596 was whooping it up early when Thompson was scoring and the Warriors were up 20-14. Here they go again. Would somebody get me a drink? Suddenly the Wiz were pulling ahead, and the whooping became shouts of desperation. Boom. Twelve points in a row.
“The law of averages is we’re not going to play great every time out,” reminded Kerr. The trouble is they’ve played so great for so long we’ve come to expect they’ll do it every time out, turning the game into a joke, like the University of Connecticut women do in their mismatches.
But great or not great the Warriors remain perfect on their home floor and quite likely headed for a second straight NBA Championship.
“I could never imagine all this,” said Kerr. Imagine it, Steve. Everybody else does.
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.