Warriors on wrong end of deja vu in 'carbon-copy' loss to Pacers

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Déjà vu: Dubs on wrong end of 'carbon-copy' loss to Pacers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- A little under 11 months later, the Warriors found themselves in a familiar situation Monday night at Chase Center against the Indiana Pacers. Instead of churning out a three-game win streak before boarding the team plane and taking off for Utah, the Warriors wound up on the wrong end of déjà vu with a 112-104 loss.

The Pacers were without stars Tyrese Haliburton (left groin soreness) and Myles Turner (sore right hamstring), along with other notable names in Chris Duarte, T.J. McConnell, Daniel Theis and James Johnson. Their inactive list quite literally was longer than their starting lineup. And it didn't matter.

Again.

"It was almost a carbon-copy of last year's game," Steve Kerr said after the loss. "Different personnel, obviously, but the same thing happened last year. They had three or four guys out and they came in and took it to us."

Pacers forward Oshae Brissett couldn't help but notice the similarities, too.

"Yeah, for sure," Brissett said. "I feel like it's kind of the same thing. Everyone stepped up and obviously [Andrew Nembhard] had a big game, but everyone was able to step in and do their part."

Last season on Jan. 20, 2022, the Pacers waltzed into the Warriors' home arena with a starting five of Duarte, Justin Holiday, Torrey Craig, Goga Bitadze and Keifer Sykes. That isn't exactly a championship-contending squad. That also is the beauty, or the beast, of an 82-game season as the Warriors witnessed again this go around.

Duarte as a rookie last season tied his career high, dropping 27 points on Golden State. For his experience as a 24-year-old with four years of college basketball, many saw Duarte as a Warriors target in the 2021 draft. Andrew Nembhard, who turns 23 years old next month and played four seasons at Gonzaga, found himself in the same boat this past June as a possible win-now target for the defending champions.

The Warriors opted for upside, selecting 19-year-old Patrick Baldwin Jr. at No. 28 overall. Three picks later, the Pacers opened the second round by calling Nembhard's name. And once again, a Pacers rookie enjoyed a career night at Chase Center.

Nembhard lit the Warriors up to the tune of 31 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds. All were new career highs, along with his five 3-pointers. Coming into the night, the most points he had scored in an NBA game was 16. His most assists were 10, his most rebounds were six and his most 3-pointers were four. Over his four-year college career, the most points Nembhard scored in a game was 25 twice.

He became the first player in NBA history to score at least 30 points and have at least 10 assists in a player's first game against the Warriors.

"He was hooping," Warriors guard Donte DiVincenzo said. "I think that starts in the first half from us. The guards got to get into him a little bit more. They have to feel us a little bit more and not let him get 21 attempts.

"That's a lot of attempts. I think that's the difference."

From the start, it was clear this wasn't about to be a walk in the park for the Warriors -- no matter who they were going against. They were outscored 34-21 in the first quarter and allowed far too many easy baskets. Missing Andrew Wiggins' two-way ability certainly was a factor, but Kerr and the coaches refused to allow that to be an excuse.

A starting lineup of Steph Curry, Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney still should be able to get the job done against the group of Pacers who were on the floor. At least on paper. The game isn't played there, though.

What was the biggest problem? Kerr turned to his team's offensive execution, and put the loss on his shoulders.

"I mean, the game was scattered and they were getting to the rim quite a bit and our defense wasn't great," Kerr said. "But we didn't attack in a great way and we didn't adapt and adjust to the way they were guarding us and that's on me.

"I've got to do a better job of helping the guys recognize what the defense is doing and how we can counterattack that. Just felt like we never found that offensive groove that we needed."

The Warriors shot 40.4 percent from the field and a lowly 29.5 percent from deep, nearly nine percent worse than their season average. Part of that low number was Steph Curry reminding us that he is human after all.

Curry scored only 12 points, going 3-for-17 overall and 2-for-10 on 3-pointers. It was his least amount of points scored in a game this season, as well as his fewest made shots and 3-pointers. The last time Steph scored 12 points or less in a full game was March 3 of last season when he dropped eight in a win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

The next game, Curry responded with 47 points and seven 3-pointers.

RELATED: Steph addresses fake viral video of five straight full-court shots

In the grand scheme of things, this isn't a game where the Warriors will hang their heads and cry what-if looking back at the schedule. It is, however, the latest in their growing book of lessons to be learned. Wiggins will be back, as will Curry's shot.

With a shrug and plenty heads shaking from befuddlement, mark this down as a frustrating loss for the Warriors -- one they hope is a tiny blip in the much-larger picture of a seven-month regular season.

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