SALT LAKE CITY — The Golden State Warriors held a four-point lead over the Utah Jazz with 13.3 seconds remaining in the game. They had clawed their way back after trailing by 12 in the third quarter and did so without Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins.
But what happened over those next 13 seconds left the Warriors scratching their heads following a 124-123 loss at Vivint Arena.
“In my experience, there’s one game like this every year where you leave the building saying, ‘What just happened?'” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “You make mistakes down the stretch and you leave the arena just shaking your head, thinking, ‘How did we just let that happen?'”
But Alexander-Walker passed the ball to Malik Beasley, who was all alone in the right corner after losing Klay Thompson. Beasley knocked down a 3-pointer, bringing the game within one with 7.8 seconds left.
“I just fell asleep,” Thompson said. “I watched the ball handler get to the rim rather than sticking on the 3-point shooter. That was a dreadful mistake by myself.”
“I heard on the catch, ‘Look for the foul on the ball,'” Poole said. “I don’t really know [what happened], to be honest.”
With four seconds on the clock, Beasley took several dribbles and bounce-passed it to Simone Fontecchio, who dunked it, giving the Jazz the lead and the win.
Entering the game, the Jazz were 1-718 when trailing by at least four points inside the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter over the past 25 seasons.
“I feel terrible for our guys because they fought and they did a lot of great things, but we have to close the door,” Kerr said.
Without three of their starters — who have been the best players for the Warriors through the early portion of the season — Golden State relied heavily on second-year players Jonathan Kuminga and Moody, in addition to Thompson and Poole, who scored 22 points and a season-high-tying 36 points, respectively.
Kuminga’s performance, in particular, impressed as he finished with a season-high 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting, five rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block. He also had a strong defensive game, spending most of the night on Jordan Clarkson, and coming up with a crucial stop on him down the stretch of the game.
“His defense was incredible,” Thompson said. “JK is a special talent, and he showcased it tonight. While he’s young in his career, when he keeps things simple it’s impressive to watch. He’s going to add layers to his game as the seasons go by. Just an incredible talent.”
Wednesday’s loss to Utah wasn’t the first game this season the Warriors had dropped after holding a late lead. It’s a stark contrast to last season, when it was almost always certain they could win a tight game.
They say it’s a result of them still finding their identity with a relatively new roster, especially in their second unit. Until they find that identity and what Kerr said is a shared mentality of “we’re going to knuckle down and take care of this,” they won’t be able to get the results they want.
“I thought [we] really fought and earned the right to win the game, and then we didn’t close. And you’ve got to close,” Kerr said. “You’ve got to be rock solid with the ball. You’ve got to be smart defensively. We were neither of those things the last 13 seconds.”