LOS ANGELES — It didn’t feel like the end of a dynasty, if only because we had seen this movie before. For all their struggles from beyond the arc and shifting rotations Monday night in Los Angeles, we’d all seen the Warriors pull out of a tailspin of a game and put together a burst that led to a spectacular win too many times to think it wouldn’t happen one more time. It’s what the Warriors have done since 2015.
But Monday night they couldn’t pull up.
Stephen Curry couldn’t hit that backbreaking 3 (and Klay Thompson was not much help going 3-of-9 from 3 all game).
Steph had a couple chances to take the lead late in the fourth quarter 😩 pic.twitter.com/GhPGk2ilZJ
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 9, 2023
Draymond Green was passing to the Lakers.
Draymond Green what the heck?!?!?!
— Oh no he didn't (@ohnohedidnt24) May 9, 2023
Finally, there was Curry getting the ball on a tip but not calling timeout — Steve Kerr said he tried but nobody heard him in a loud Crypto.com Arena — then throwing a pass to no one as the Warriors’ last chance rolled out of bounds.
Stephen Curry comes up with the ball, throws it out of bounds pic.twitter.com/awOV1Et5Or
— 3030 🇩🇴 (@jose3030) May 9, 2023
Is this what the beginning of the end looks like for the Warriors? Not enough defense to slow Lonnie Walker IV, not enough depth, and not enough Curry magic to save them, even on the night of a 31-point triple-double?
Don’t tell the Warriors that. To a man they talked about a belief they could bounce back.
“It feels like what it is, 3-1,” Kerr said. “You go home and you take care of business and you get a win and the momentum is right back in your favor. So it’s all it is. Somebody has to win four times. And that’s why you play it out.”
When asked if he thought about Green being a free agent and maybe GM Bob Myers leaving, Curry said “no” before the question was finished. He said all he thinks about is the next game.
But there were discordant notes Monday. Just like there have been with these Warriors going back to Green punching Jordan Poole in training camp — the greatness of Curry has masked many of those issues.
Poole — the guy handed the big extension in the offseason — played 11 minutes off the bench, was 0-of-4 from the floor with some defensive miscues, and Kerr couldn’t trust him. Poole has been up and down throughout the postseason, with far more down than up, and he was frustrated after this loss. NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kerith Burke was in the locker room when Poole spoke, but facing his locker and with his back to the media.
“Just reviewing some of the things he said. It was some pretty short answers. ‘My shot. I don’t know. If I knew, I’d tell you.’ He didn’t want to talk about himself. He kept saying we have a game in a couple of days. I asked him, I was like ‘Jordan, we know your work ethic is good. When you feel like you’re in a little bit of a funk, when things don’t seem normal, what are you doing? Are you getting back in the gym?’ He said, ‘Well, my work ethic doesn’t change, my routine doesn’t change. Maybe opportunity changes but you can only control what you can control.'”
“It just it just wasn’t his night,” Kerr said of Poole. “You know, he didn’t have it going and it’s a game where you’re going possession by possession and we got other guys who were who were playing well.”
Poole’s opportunity at first went to Gary Payton II, who started the game and played well, cutting hard to the basket and scoring 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, with a 3 ball in that mix. But when the Warriors could have used a defender to throw at Lonnie Walker Kerr stuck with Moses Moody (7 points on 3-of-3 shooting).
“Gary started the fourth [he played two minutes], we went to Moses to get another shooter on the floor. So we stayed with that lineup for the two-way capabilities,” Kerr said.
Nobody sane is writing the Warriors out of this series, they have pulled off too many miracles in the last eight seasons, and they are the defending champs. Least of all the Lakers are not; Darvin Ham and LeBron James both talked about how hard the Warriors will be to close out.
But Monday night the Warriors couldn’t stop the slide, and if they slip just once in three more games, some difficult offseason questions are coming.
And maybe this series, this season is what the ends starts to look like.