ORACLE ARENA — The winningest team in the NBA can add another win to the books.
The Pacers took the lead midway through the first quarter Monday night. The Warriors fought to crawl back, but eventually fell to Indiana 102-94.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson spoke before the game about the significance of being able to play a nationally televised game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, saying that he is forever indebted to Dr. King:
“I’m not sitting here if he didn’t have a dream and didn’t fight for that dream. I don’t just say that as an African-American man — I think we all owe him a big thank you.”
Paul George created problems for the Warriors early on hitting two threes and heading into the second quarter with 14 of the Pacers 35 first-quarter points.
The Warriors ran into more problems in the second quarter as Klay Thompson went cold and Andre Iguodala led the Warriors second-quarter scoring with just five points.
Golden State tightened up defensively and held George scoreless in the second quarter, yet the Pacers maintained a double-digit lead and went into halftime with a 53-40 advantage.
David Lee told SFBay the Pacers’ aggressiveness early on outshined the Warriors, costing them the game:
“I think tonight the game was lost in the first quarter in the way we came out.”
Coming out of intermission, the Pacers quickly extended their lead to 20 points and forced a Warriors timeout.
The Warriors came back on the court with immediate resolve and went on a 7-0 run forcing Indiana coach Frank Vogel to call a timeout of his own.
The already fired up crowd found another level when Iguodala stole the ball with 7:44 left in the third and sprinted down the court only to have the ball stripped by George Hill. Racing for the ball, Iguodala was called for a pushing foul that sent Hill falling out of bounds.
A series of physical possessions later, Iguodala and Lance Stephenson exchanged shoves and words missed by the officials, and Oracle went to its feet in a deafening roar.
Vogel said it was an important win in an environment he’s glad only comes once during the season:
“Just a very tough atmosphere to pay in, this building. I’m glad we only have to play here once a year because their fans really get behind them and they have a great basketball team.”
Curry who had 10 third-quarter points, opened up the final frame with a three-pointer to bring the Warriors within five.
An already physical game got even more physical with 8:49 to play.
Stephenson put his shoulder down and drove hard into Curry sending him sliding across the hardwood, but the officials had just called Draymond Green for a foul. Curry immediately got to his feet and into the face of Stephenson but were quickly separated and no additional fouls were charged.
Curry finished with a game-high 24 points and nine assists, and told SFBay that in order to beat the best teams in the league, the Warriors have to take care of the little things that can’t be coached:
“Crashing the glass, keeping those guys from swiping the rebounds off the offensive glass, being physical, and sticking to the game plan … If we can take care of the little things that we can control, we’ll be alright.”
Thompson continued to play stifling defense on George, but George, who finished with 23 points, connected on a contested jumper putting the Pacers on top 87-79 with just over five minutes left to play, but Thompson answered right back with a deep three.
With consecutive trips to the charity stripe, Lee brought the Warriors within three. But the Pacers were able to open things up once more, as Andrew Bogut limped to the locker room giving Indiana a size advantage.
The final minute was frantic as Iguodala turned the ball over on a defensive rebound and on the other side Curry and Thompson both missed on three-point opportunities to finish the game.
Coach Jackson echoed Curry’s thoughts about taking care of the little things on the court, warning that in the future things will be different:
“When we begin to take care of the little things it’s going to be scary how good we can be.”
The Warriors, now 26-17 overall, continue their five-game home stand on Friday against the 19-21 Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Pacers led from the 7:46 mark of the first quarter on after taking a 17-15 lead. It’s the 16th consecutive game Indiana has held their opponent under the century mark. … All five starters finished in double figures for Indiana, the third Warriors opponent to do so this season. … Indiana has now won five in a row (13 of its last 15 games), while Golden State dropped the team’s third game in its las four after winning 11 of 12. … Andrew Bogut finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks for his 10th double-double of the season. He is now shooting 19-of-24 (.792) from the field over the past four games and 43-of-62 (.694) in the month of January, coming into tonight’s game leading the NBA in field goal percentage.