Patty Mills scored 20 pts in his first start of the season

Patty Mills scored 20 pts in his first start of the season

The Warriors lost an entertaining game against the Spurs by two points on national television. Normally that wouldn’t sound like such a bad thing, but tonight the Spurs were without Tony Parker (injured), as well as Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili (resting on the second night of a back-to-back).

Not only did the Warriors lose 104-102 at home against a team full of role players — albeit some pretty good ones — they committed 24 turnovers after seemingly remedying that problem two nights ago in Andre Iguodala’s first game back.

“We were careless and that gave them life,” Mark Jackson said. “That’s not what championship caliber teams do.”

The Spurs are a championship caliber team, and part of the reason why is their bench. Even without three of their best players, San Antonio’s reserves outscored Golden State’s 41-13. That was mostly because ex-Warrior Marco Belinelli came through with 28 points, a career-high.

“I played with the Golden State Warriors in 2007, 2008, so it was a long time ago,” said Belinelli, who told me afterward that he didn’t get a chance to visit Umbria, his favorite restaurant in San Francisco, because the Spurs played the night before in Phoenix.

“Tonight we played with Manu, without Timmy, without TP. But at the same time we need every guy to step up. Every guy was aggressive on offense and defense and I think that is why we won the game.”

Another player with ties to the area who had a standout game was Patty Mills, who over the course of his career has made that a habit against Golden State. Mills scored 20 points and had three steals. Four out of the six times he’s scored 20+ in his career have come against the Warriors, and he’s notched his season high in each of his five NBA seasons (including this one) against the team he watched as a student at St. Mary’s.

“This is close to my school, so it’s almost like a homecourt advantage for me. Having everyone from school come and watch, definitely a good feeling coming here,” Mills said.

I asked him whether he had gotten an opportunity to play at Oracle while he was a star point guard with the Gaels.

“No, I was the guy that parked deep in the parking lot and walked all the way to sit in the nosebleeds,” said Mills, who said he attended quite a few Warriors games.

“For me, coming from Australia I had only been to a couple of games. Me coming to the games was like, ‘Okay, this is where I want to be.’ And I love this area, I love coming to the Warriors games … the support here is great from my school and all my friends here. I’m lucky in that regard.”

Enough Spurs, time to get into how the Warriors lost

The Warriors didn’t shoot well from distance (8-for-31 on threes), and generally when the shots don’t fall they don’t win. But the defense was terrible in the second quarter, when they allowed 35 points. It wasn’t much better in the third, when they allowed 29. The turnovers were a large reason why their defense was so poor, although they were pretty bad at defending the Spurs’ pick-and-roll as well.

David Lee and Andrew Bogut escape the blame tonight, as they combined for 40 points, 31 rebounds and only three turnovers. Bogut played a nearly perfect game, making all three shots he took and even both free throws, while blocking three shots and grabbing 18 rebounds. He wasn’t able to corral the last one of the night, however, which led to a Tiago Splitter tip-in to seal the victory.

“I had the ball on the offensive rebound and I don’t know if it was a foul or not. I’m not saying it was a foul. I think I fell on his foot, just fell down and the ball bobbled out of my hands,” Bogut said. “Tough play; that’s what everyone will look at, but we didn’t lose the game with one or two plays, or ten plays in the fourth quarter, we lost the game in the first three quarters.”

The final play was simply terrible. With 2.1 seconds left, Stephen Curry (30 points on 28 shots, 15 assists, 5 turnovers) received the ball near midcourt and threw a desperation shot with one hand that went over the backboard.

I asked Jackson about the final play and what the plan was.

“We had a lot of action going trying to get the ball to Steph. Klay was also a live action option out of it. That is a big time defensive team, they played it well and then they jumped Steph. Give them credit,” he said.

Most fans would rather complain about the Warriors’ effort than give credit to the Spurs yet again. The turnovers were a team-wide problem, but they got next to nothing from Klay Thompson (13 points on 6-of-18 shooting, no free throw attempts, two rebounds and five turnovers in 41 minutes) and absolutely nothing from Harrison Barnes (no points and three turnovers in 19 minutes).

“They are not playing well right now. Not going to sit here and make excuses for them,” Jackson said.

Iguodala went 3-for-4 from the field, but he was one of the many Warriors who gave the Spurs too many Christmas gifts.

“We just got outplayed, outsmarted, outhustled. They showed characteristics of a championship team. They’ve been there,” said Iguodala, who committed four turnovers. “We’ve got to get out of our old trends and games like this, a good butt-whooping will wake you up.”

Adam Lauridsen, who writes the excellent Warriors blog Fast Break, had a perfect response.

One last thing: the Warriors only took 11 free throws and drew just four personal fouls in the second half. One could say the Spurs were better at flopping, and they were, but the Warriors have to figure out a way to get to the line more often, especially when the shots aren’t falling.