Golden State’s hunt for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference took a hit in more ways than one Thursday with a 116-97 loss to Oklahoma City at Oracle Arena.
It cut the team’s lead over Houston to a half-game with three to play, but perhaps more important was the loss of center Andrew Bogut to a sprained left ankle -- the same ankle he had surgically repaired in April.
The team did not perform x-rays and it is not yet clear how significant the injury is, but coach Mark Jackson said the team is “not too concerned, right now.”
Bogut is not expected to travel with the team to Los Angeles to play the Lakers on Friday.
“I think he could if it was a Game 7, but it makes no sense,” Jackson said. “I think it’s important for us to make sure he’s right and give it time to heal.”
With three games remaining in the regular season, time isn’t something the team has in surplus. Any missed time would be a huge blow to the Warriors’ hopes of retaining the six seed and their postseason prospects after that.
Before the game Jackson said Bogut was still not completely healthy and the team would be patient during his return to health.
“He makes us a much improved basketball team, makes us a dangerous out, his presence in the paint, presence on the block, his playing making ability and his body of work completes us,” Jackson said. “We are excited to have him on the floor and healthy.”
He didn’t knock on wood.
Bogut exited at the 2:55 of the first quarter and wasn’t seen on the bench the rest of the game.
“Other guys have to step up though,” guard Stephen Curry said. “That’s the name of the game if guys go down. You have to find a way to make it happen. We could have used his presence down low for sure, but I don’t think them posting up was a big issue.”
Kevin Durant, who is chasing his fourth straight scoring title, had 31 points to lead all scorers and upped his season average to 28.3 points per game. He still trails Carmelo Anthony, who increased his season average to 28.7 with 36 points in an overtime loss the Bulls in a game that preceded Warriors-Thunder on TNT.
With the Thunder (58-21) leading 103-82 at the 8:14 mark of the fourth quarter, Durant exited for good. He had 14 of Oklahoma City’s 36 third-quarter points as it turned a 60-54 halftime lead into a 96-77 game headed into the fourth.
“A performance like that on our home floor is tough to swallow, but we’re a resilient team that’ll find a way to get it done,” Curry said. “We have another opportunity tomorrow to try to keep that six spot against an L.A. team that needs a win. It’ll be a big game for both teams.” Curry scored 22 points to lead Golden State (45-34) and was 3-of-6 from behind the arc. With three games left, he needs 17 threes to tie Ray Allen (269) for the single-season three-point record. At 252 for the season, he joined Dennis Scott, George McLoud and Allen as the only players to connect on at least 250 in a season.
As a result of the injury to Bogut, Andris Biedrins was thrust into action (six minutes) for the first time after 11 consecutive benchings.
Legends in attendance
Warrior greats Sleepy Floyd (1983-87) and Tom Meschery (1961-67) were both in attendance and made appearances on the big screen to ovations from the crowd. Meschery is one of six players to have their number (14) retired by the franchise.
#WarriorsTalk Tweet of the Game
Next Up – at Los Angeles Lakers (42-37), 7:30 p.m., Friday
Friday’s game at the Lakers will be just the second time this season the Warriors will play a home game and board a plane for a game the following day. The only previous occurrence came in the second and third games of the season when a loss to Memphis at home on Nov. 2 was followed by a win over the Clippers at the Staples Center the next day.
Golden State has lost nine straight against the Lakers at the Staples Center with the last win coming March 23, 2008. The Warriors are 1-2 against the Lakers this year, but logged a 109-103 win at Oracle Arena in the previous meeting on March 25.
Los Angeles holds a one-game lead over Utah for the No. 8 playoff spot with home games against San Antonio and Houston also left on the schedule. The Lakers have won five of their last six and are five games over .500 for the first time this season.