OAKLAND -– After losing at home for the first time this season, the first regular-season loss in more than 14 months, the Warriors neither pouted nor shouted.
The sky didn’t fall and neither did their spirits.
The Warriors realized, above all, that they undid themselves Friday night, snapping their 54-game home win streak with play that was too casual when it wasn’t too sloppy, and too soft on defense when it mattered most.
And the Boston Celtics were good enough, and hungry enough, to take advantage, strutting out of a stunned Oracle Arena after hanging a 109-106 loss on the Warriors.
“It sucks to lose,” said Stephen Curry, who committed nine of the Warriors’ 22 turnovers, “because we haven’t had this feeling at home in a while.
“We had a good fight tonight. We overcame sloppy play in the first half, especially with turnovers, and gave ourselves a chance to win. But the Celtics played well down the stretch, made shots in the fourth quarter and we couldn’t turn the tide.”
The Warriors (68-8) were torched in the second half, when Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas scored all 22 of his points, including 18 in a spectacular third quarter. Boston shot 65 percent in the third quarter and, despite coming off a game Thursday night in Portland, shot 57.1 percent in the second half.
The Celtics also won most of the hustle wars, edging Warriors in rebounding (44-41), second-chance points (14-11) and fast-break points, (16-11) while dominating the point with a 48-30 advantage in points.
“We didn’t play the way we needed to play to win the game,” said Draymond Green, whose late turnover broke down a play on which the Warriors could have tied or gone ahead inside the final 20 seconds.
“Twenty-two that led to 27 points,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Our execution was really bad. A lot of that had to do with their defense; they were fantastic. That’s a really good team that played great defense on the perimeter, especially, and got us out of sync.”
Not until the final 6:19, a spell during which the Warriors outscored Boston 21-14, was there strong belief the home team might be able to overcome its miscues. They weren’t, despite Curry’s 21-point third quarter, because Boston wouldn’t allow it, answering every run and often matching the Warriors bucket-for-bucket.
“When Curry got going in the third quarter, I thought the biggest moment of the game was us scoring consecutively when he scored,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “When he gets going, that’s usually when they run away with a 10-0 or 12-0 run. Guys had to play really well and we didn’t have anyone play poorly. That’s what it takes to beat a team like this.”
Gone, now, is the shield of invincibility at home. The Warriors often talked about how proud that would be if they could do what no other team has done, win all 41 homes games in a season.
“It’s a weird feeling,” Curry said in the postgame locker room. “We’ve just got to be able to move on from it. It’s maybe a good reminder going into the playoffs that we don’t want this feeling come April.”
Kerr, however, balanced fresh defeat with historical achievement. The 54 straight wins are, after all, a record.
“I congratulated them,” he said. “They just won 54 games in a row. What our guys have accomplished is incredible. I don’t know if people understand the intensity it takes, and the work that it takes to put together a streak like that. To compete night in and night out, when you’re worn out, it takes a lot out of you – especially when every game is the other team’s biggest game. People are coming after us.
“So I told the guys how proud I am of them for putting together an amazing streak. We got beat. Boston outplayed us. They deserved to win, so we’ll start over on Sunday.”
That’s when the Portland Trail Blazers, a team the Warriors could see in the postseason, come to Oracle. There will be no win streak on the line, nothing more than an opportunity to win one more game and get closer to the all-time wins record.
That’ll have to do, because it’s still there to be had.