SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden State Warriors felt good heading into their Thursday night matchup against the Indiana Pacers. They held a home run derby at Chase Center the day before to boost morale after a tough road trip and were ready to build momentum on their dominant win over the Detroit Pistons from two days earlier.
But as soon as they stepped on the court against Indiana’s depleted roster, all of the positive energy they had evaporated, leading them to a 121-117 loss in overtime.
The game — in which they entered as 16.5-point favorites — marked the third-largest upset in the Steve Kerr era. And Kerr took all the responsibility.
“I blame myself, number one,” Kerr said. “I don’t think I did a good job of preparing the team to be ready to play.”
The Pacers were without four of their top scorers — including forward Domantas Sabonis and starting guards Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert — making them easier to look over. But they shot 41.9 percent from 3-point range.
In addition to the team’s overall preparation, Kerr blamed himself for Golden State’s final defensive possession of regulation: Justin Holiday escaped Stephen Curry‘s defense with just enough time to catch the ball at the right elbow of the 3-point line and knocked down the shot to tie the score and force overtime.
“I’m normally a fouler, and I take the hit on that one, too,” Kerr said of not telling his players to foul Holiday or Isaiah Jackson, who assisted Holiday on the shot. “So this was my night to stink it up.”
But Curry didn’t place all of the onus on his coach, particularly on the play in which he was the primary defender on Holiday.
“I looked at the ball for like two seconds,” Curry said. “Holiday made a good cut and made a shot. I know there’s that conversation, should we have fouled and all. I was just a step slow and that one gave him too wide-open of a look. Trying to guard the inbounds and I got caught looking.”
Asked about Kerr taking the blame for Thursday’s loss, Curry said it’s “his character” to assume responsibility.
“I think that’s part of our culture,” Kerr said. “We all have a tendency to look at yourself, what you could have done differently.”
In addition to the defensive breakdowns, the Warriors also shot poorly Thursday. They were just 9-of-42 (21.4 percent) from beyond the arc, including 1-of-9 in overtime. The eight missed 3s in overtime were tied for the second-most in an overtime over the past 25 seasons.
Curry, who finished with a game-high 39 points in 44 minutes, was 6-of-16 on 3-pointers. The rest of the Warriors went 3-of-26, or just 11.5 percent, the third-worst 3-point shooting percentage from Curry’s teammates since the 2014-15 season.
Despite the numbers, Curry said he approved of nearly every 3-pointer they took. More than anything, he put the blame on the Warriors’ inability to execute.
“It was our execution on simple stuff that we know is our bread and butter, we didn’t execute well,” Curry said. “We came down, I called a play, but we didn’t execute it well. It was an anti-possession. … That’s where us as players have to keep each other accountable. On the little things we can control. We can’t control making and missing shots, but you can control execution.”
The Warriors now head into the second night of a back-to-back with Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala scheduled to rest and Curry coming off playing 44 minutes.
Kerr has less than 24 hours to fix what he said he failed to do Thursday and get his team prepared.