It seemed the Warriors had all the momentum. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had just gotten two technical fouls and was ejected. Spurs forward Tim Duncan received a technical seconds later.
Warriors guard Derek Fisher knocked down all three free throws with 7:06 left in the third quarter. On the ensuing Warriors' possession he knocked down an 18-foot pull-up jumper from the left wing. The next time down, guard Jason Richardson dropped in a 17-foot pull-up over Duncan, putting the Warriors up by five. The Warriors also converted 18 of 21 free throws in the second half.
Now the reason the Warriors wound up losing 107-96 to the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center on Tuesday brings up a future concern about this team: fourth-quarter offense. Sure, they were going up against the league's stingiest defense. But that only further exposed the Warriors flaw. Golden State went 3-for-13 the rest of the third quarter and relinquished the lead for good.
After a Richardson 3-pointer pulled the Warriors to within 84-81 with 7:27 left, the Warriors missed their next four shots - including rushed 3-pointers by Richardson and Fisher - and committed two turnovers. San Antonio built its lead to nine and went on cruise control the rest of the way.
"That's the key for us," said guard Derek Fisher, who hit several tough, contested shots en route to his season-high 27 points. "Being able to really tap into this team's scoring potential, figuring out the sets that we have and the offense that we run, how to be more efficient. Against good defensive teams, you can't game in and game out take difficult shots with guys flying at you and having to get into the lane and create your own shots every time."
Part of the problem was that the Warriors' offense was reduced to get-Richardson-the-ball-and-get-out-the-way. The same was the case when starting point guard Baron Davis was active.
Richardson was slowed by a host of nagging injuries and was being blanketed by perhaps the best perimeter defender in the NBA in Bruce Bowen, who was backed up by seven-footers Duncan and center Rasho Nesterovic. While Richardson's ballhandling has grown leaps and bounds, his strength isn't getting the ball on the wing and making it happen. Yet, that was the Warriors offense down the stretch.
The biggest part of the problem, however, is the Warriors' poor execution. When a Warrior is catching the ball 20, 25 feet from the basket, it's usually because of poor screens or poor cuts. When a Warrior finds himself dribbling through double teams late in the shot clock, it's usually because he failed to hit the open guy in time.
Many times, the Warriors negate their execution with poor shot selection. Then there are times they resist the urge to take a quick jumper and execute the offense, only to miss the lay-up their execution has produced. The Warriors missed 16 layups Tuesday, several of which were contested but several were also gimmies.
"We (missed) five layups in the second half," Montgomery said. "I mean layups. Kind of open layups, compared to (being in) traffic. We've just got to make those plays."
In other NBA action: New Jersey 112, Washington 100; Charlotte 106, Orlando 102; Toronto 114, NY Knicks 109; Dallas 88, Houston 72; Memphis 105, Indiana 75; New Orleans 120, LA Clippers 108; Minnesota 100, Miami 96; Sacramento 105, Seattle 96; Utah 107, Phoenix 99.