Andre Iguodala

LeBron James may have broken their hearts, but “morale is high” in Warriors’ locker room

Miami Heat LeBron James Chris Bosh

If LeBron James didn’t nail a high, arcing three that touched nothing but net to give the Heat a 111-110 lead with just 0.1 seconds remaining, the Warriors would’ve had their most satisfying win of the year and several heroes to “celebrate,” a word Mark Jackson loves using. But James capped an amazing game — even by his standards — with seven points in the final 58 seconds. And this shot, falling sideways over the outstretched arm of Andre Iguodala, was something no one who watched this game will ever forget.

James had 37 points, nine rebounds, three assists and five steals in Phoenix one night earlier. Against the Warriors, who used every perimeter defender at their disposal to try to slow him down, he had 36 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and two steals.

He hit a game-winner over Ronny Turiaf on Jan. 23, 2009 as a member of the Cavaliers in this same building, a place James really seems to like — and yes, Warriors fans, this could be your silver lining. Even more so than the comeback from 21 points down to take the lead before LeBron’s dagger three.

“It was almost the same spot. That one (in ’09) was a step-back as well but it was a two,” James said.

“This is a great arena. These fans are unbelievable. This is a sports town and they love their Warriors. It is always great to play here.”

But dreams of wooing the best player in the world must wait, because the Warriors have to make it work with this team after the All-Star Break. Stephen Curry, who heads to his first All-Star Game after a dominant second half (19 points, including 10 in a 90-second span), said even though the comeback was strong this loss still hurt.

“We put the gas pedal down in the second half to come back. Couple inches away from getting the win,” Curry said. “We’ll be alright. We’re happy about the way that we played. There’s no moral victories, but not such a depressing loss that we won’t be able to recover come Wednesday.”

If James’ shot was a couple inches off-target instead of completely perfect, the Warriors would’ve ridden the high of that second half against Miami for the next six days and no one would’ve blamed them after a surplus of positives.

  • Harrison Barnes caught fire in the third quarter, scoring eight of his 14 points on two threes and a pretty finger-roll.
  • Thompson’s defense was phenomenal (he looked like someone who gave it all he had, knowing that there would be plenty of time to rest afterward).
  • David Lee kept them in the game with seven points near the end of the game to bring the Warriors back to within one (104-103) after falling behind by nine four minutes earlier.
  • Iguodala hit an extremely difficult fadeaway jumper over Shane Battier to give the Warriors a 105-104 lead.
  • Curry scored Golden State’s last five points to give them a two-point lead with 14 seconds left.

I asked Iguodala if there was anything else he could’ve done against James on that last play.

“As far as the move he made and the way he was guarded, there’s nothing you can change about that. There’s nothing I would change, he just made a tough shot. You’ve got to give him credit for that,” he said.

Dub Steps

— Despite sitting in the eighth spot in the Western Conference, the Warriors hardly sound like a team that’s unsure of itself.

Exhibit A: “We feel like we could be better, obviously. Last year we were pretty happy where we were. This year we let games slip but still have a grip on where we’re trying to go,” Curry said. “Morale is high. The vision’s pretty clear of where we’re trying to go when it comes to seeing ourselves, where we stack up in the Western Conference and what to expect down the stretch. Confidence is high right now.”

Exhibit B: “Hopefully, we see ‘em again. That’s the plan,” said Iguodala. The Warriors have already played the Heat twice, so he’s referring to … well, you know.

— At some point in the third quarter, when the Warriors looked like they were headed to a lopsided defeat that would’ve caused full-scale panic around here (or a lot of bitching and moaning, at least) during the break, something very odd occurred. Glass fell from somewhere and broke in an area near the Warriors’ basket and all the players on the floor. Some blamed one of the two disco balls that hang from the rafters, others thought it was from a camera above the basket, but I talked to some people afterward and apparently there are plenty of pieces of glass and mirrors up in the ceiling. So really, it could’ve been anything. Either way, the Warriors took off from that point. Kind of like the 49ers after the Super Bowl power outage, Tim Kawakami pointed out after the game.

— Why does Oracle have disco balls, anyway? What’s next, lava lamps on top of each shot clock?

— This tweet made the rounds during the game:

As I was heading down to the locker room after the game, I saw a throwback Alonzo Mourning jersey and I had to snap a quick photo:

— The Warriors were 30-22 last year at the All-Star break. This year, they’re 31-22. The next 29 games will define this season, and the first of those 29 takes place in Sacramento. Then it’s Houston and Brooklyn at home, followed by a six-game eastern road swing. That sounds difficult, but this is a team that seems to do well on long road trips. We’ll soon see if the team’s play measures up to the confidence shown by Curry and Iguodala after Wednesday night’s tough loss.

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