OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors' 113-111 overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night was like a checklist for commentators who’ve expressed doubts about the Warriors’ title bona fides.
“They’re a jump shooting team,” is a consistent Charles Barkley lament, which the Warriors validated by missing their last 13 3-point attempts. “I don’t trust them without Andrew Bogut,” is another critique, and Bogut missed this game with the flu. “Curry is turnover prone,” is about the only blemish in the superstar point guard’s game, but one highlighted on a crucial turnover late in regulation.
All these doubts will persist unless the Warriors do, indeed, win the title. All these doubts found fuel in a hyped, thrilling game against the battle-tested Bulls.
And yet, the Warriors nearly won. Not even nearly, as they led all but the final 16 seconds of the fourth quarter, before Kirk Hinrich’s brilliant swipe and swish. They had their 20th consecutive home win in their grasp before Curry's pass was intercepted. In overtime, Klay Thompson's runner nearly forced an extra stanza.
This is probably why Warriors coach Steve Kerr didn’t look particularly depressed or incensed after the game. He was mostly smiles, a couple laughs, oozing acceptance. “Can’t win em’ all,” he said with a shrug.
Many Warriors fans might disagree, having gotten quite used to home dominance. The last time the Warriors lost in Oakland, it was Nov. 11, 2014. Home games have so frequently been blowouts that this may well have been the first time in months that the Oracle crowd was actually, palpably nervous. There were murmurs of concern in the arena as each of the last 13 3-point attempts clanked. The rims carry loud microphones, making every miss sound in rhythm with a drumbeat of dread. It had been a while since possessions had stakes attached.
This was, above all else, a fantastic game. The pace was fast, the whistles were few, and the plays were massive. Derrick Rose was firing misses like a punctured hose until finally hitting the game-winner on his 33rd shot. Hinrich’s defense was vicious. David Lee had his performance of the season. Draymond Green soared between Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah to force overtime by the tip of his fingernail.
Speaking of Draymond, he’s another player cited in the doubts over Golden State, due to being a post player with the height of a wing. Though his post defense is stout, he doesn’t fit the power forward prototype in the minds of some. He’s also resolutely not buying into the idea that Golden State has some fatal flaw that begs addressing.
After the game, he sarcastically noted, “Obviously we can’t handle the heavyweights. Because we shoot a lot of jump shots.” Of that particular critique his actual response was, “Them jump shots must fall a lot this year. Thirty-six and seven don’t come easy. They must fall a lot.”
His closing sentiment encapsulates how many Warriors took the rare defeat: Lost by two. Probably won’t happen often. So you move on.
And they will. Curry isn’t going to go 9-of-23 often, the Warriors certainly won’t miss 13 consecutive 3-point attempts often. As the season moves along, reasons for concern may present themselves. Not yet, though -- not even after a disappointing loss. A flirtation with fallibility isn't a disaster. It made for a great game, though.