Andrew Bogut was excused from action. So was David Lee. Nemanja Nedovic got more playing time than either Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson.
Rookie coach Steve Kerr, with one eye peering 24 hours into the future, played roster roulette Thursday and, still, the Warriors found a way to post a 104-101 win over the Nuggets in a preseason game in Des Moines, Iowa.
It was an ugly win, and Kerr acknowledged as much.
"We were not good offensively at all," he told reporters at Wells Fargo Arena.
[RELATED: Warriors mount comeback, top Nuggets 104-101]
On a night built around Iowa native Harrison Barnes, who left his home state after a storied prep career to attend the University North Carolina, it was another Tar Heels product that carried the Warriors.
Meet James Michael McAdoo. The rookie free-agent power forward scored a game-high 20 points (in 20 minutes) and grabbed seven rebounds, also a team-high.
"We had no energy tonight," Kerr said. "We were turning it over. We didn't play well. We were mixing and matching with some different lineups. But, no matter who's out there, you've got to bring life and energy. And that's what Mac brought for us."
Barnes? He played 35 minutes -– more than any Warrior has played in any preseason game thus far –- and finished with 5 points on 2-of-8 shooting. He did clinch the game, draining a 3-pointer with 6.8 seconds remaining to cap a furious comeback.
If you want proof that Kerr is not seeking wins in the preseason, this is it. The Warriors trailed by 17 (89-72) with 9:46 remaining and the coach leaned on a lineup that included Justin Holiday, Nedovic and McAdoo.
Yet it worked, because McAdoo went off. He scored 14 points during a 25-8 run that forced a 97-97 tie with 2:15 to play.
And now it's only the defending Eastern Conference champion Heat. The teams meet Friday night at Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City.
THE GOOD: Thompson's five assists in 17 minutes. McAdoo's all-around game, which included two steals; he finished plus-15 for the game. Kerr got his first experience coaching a close game in the final minutes.
"The time-out management was a good exercise for me tonight," said the coach.
THE BAD: The Warriors were clobbered on the glass, 50-40. Their turnovers-to-assists ratio was 1-to-1, as the Warriors finished with 24 of each. And Ognjen Kuzmic, starting in place of Bogut, picked up five fouls in 17 minutes, mostly against Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov.
"It's a good lesson for Kuz," Kerr said. "Mozgov is a really good player, one of the better centers in the league. Kuz picked up some silly fouls. He's still young. We're so happy with Kuz and the way he's coming along. But he's got a lot way to go. He's got to keep working. This will be a good film for him to watch."
THE TAKE: Drop this one into the shredder. This for the most part was an exhibition in its purest, least significant form. The youngsters, particularly McAdoo, got enough playing time to find a rhythm, which should help them.