SAN FRANCISCO -- Midway through the third quarter of Friday's 105-100 loss to the Celtics, Warriors forward Marquese Chriss sat alone on Golden State's bench as the team's only healthy body in a uniform.
Kevon Looney and Stephen Curry, two of Golden State's five inactive players to start the evening, sat a few seats to Chriss' right. Four seats to Chriss' left, Warriors assistants looked on in bewilderment at an increasingly lost season in Golden State.
Minutes before the visual, guard D'Angelo Russell exited the game nursing a sprained right thumb, putting his immediate availability in question. Despite the team's latest injury setback, Golden State scrapped and clawed to the brink of its third win, bringing to light the season's biggest goal: Chase consistency with a depleted roster.
"I'm really proud of the effort," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "I thought the guys competed like crazy out there."
Remnants of the Warriors mettle was apparent from tip-off Friday evening. Through the first 12 minutes, Golden State -- the league's worst defense -- held Boston to just 30 percent from the field, including 2-of-8 from 3-point range.
"We played our best defensive night of the season," Kerr said. "It's the first night, really all year, where I felt like we know what we're doing defensively. We just looked organized, we looked tied together."
The performance was in contrast to the team's output during the season. Entering Friday, the Warriors had allowed an average of more than 120 points per game, ranking last in defensive rating. In the third quarter of Wednesday's loss to the Lakers, LeBron James received an inbounds pass from guard Alex Caruso, drove baseline as Caruso screened both Russell and Glenn Robinson, leading to an easy pass to Lakers big man Dwight Howard for a wide-open dunk.
Golden State's lapses come as the roster is in peril. On the eve of training camp, Warriors general manager Bob Myers announced Willie Cauley-Stein would miss most of October with a foot strain. Two days later, rookie Alen Smailagic rolled his ankle and Looney strained his hamstring in the same controlled scrimmage. Last month, Curry broke his hand, sidelining the guard until at least February. Two nights later, forward Draymond Green tore a ligament in his left index finger. On Monday, two-way guard Damion Lee fractured his hand, further crippling the roster.
Despite the roster ills, examples of passion were displayed against the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics. Midway through the third quarter, two-way guard Ky Bowman intercepted a pass, ran crosscourt and dunked over forward Grant Williams, cutting Boston's lead to 3. Two minutes later, forward Alec Burk stripped Celtics guard Brandon Wanamaker, setting up a fastbreak layup to give Golden State a brief 82-80 lead.
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By the end of the night, the team accumulated one of its best performances of the season -- at a price. Russell's latest injury will require an MRI on Saturday, while forward Eric Paschall sported an ice wrap around his right hand, an injury the rookie vowed would not keep him out long. Nonetheless, Golden State's nameless roster lived up to its mantra Friday.
"You gotta go out there and just compete at the highest level," Paschall said. "No matter if we have five guys, just go out there and compete. It's just the game of basketball. Of course, the injuries hurt us but at the same time, you still have to play the game."
Warriors 'competed like crazy' in loss to Celtics despite more injuries originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area