Warriors' youngsters must learn to close after showing fight vs. Hornets

Logan Murdock

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors' locker room looked uniquely barren roughly 30 minutes after Golden State's 93-87 loss to the Hornets on Saturday night at Chase Center. 

In the back corner, Draymond Green's space was void of his presence, replaced by a pile of Nike shoes. A few lockers to the left, Stephen Curry's organized area featured just the guard's bulky ankle braces and shirts. Just inside the entrance, Klay Thompson made a brief appearance following a rehab session, a symbol of the last remains of the team's All-Star core. 

For the foreseeable future, this is Golden State's reality, marked by young players trying to make a name for themselves. The second night of the arrangement yielded promising results, as the collection of inexperienced role players laid the blueprint of what will be required going forward.

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"Just fighting," Warriors guard Damion Lee said. "Day in and day out. Competing, just trying to learn and grow. Get better along the way but I think just fighting." 

In their latest round, rookie Eric Paschall scored 12 of his 25 points in the first half, including a poster dunk over Cody Zeller in the second quarter. Glenn Robinson III had his best game of the season, finishing with 16 points and adding eight rebounds. Ky Bowman, one of Golden State's two two-way players, finished with 16 points, adding seven rebounds and four assists in his first career start, helping the Warriors take a 55-50 halftime lead. 

Golden State's much-maligned defense held Charlotte -- the league's best 3-point shooting team -- to just 17 percent from beyond the arc. Miles Bridges, one of the Hornets leading scorers, made just one of 10 shots from the field. 

"It's what we expect every night," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "The way we pushed the ball and the way we defended. I thought we made really, really good improvement with our defense and the guys are starting to figure some things out."

"I feel like we took a good step in the right direction as a team and just playing hard," Warriors rookie forward Eric Paschall added. "Even though everybody is out, just having fun."

Saturday's performance comes as Golden State's health is in peril. In the last month, five players have missed games due to injury, including star guards Thompson and Curry, who will be re-evaluated in February. Of the healthy bodies on the roster Sunday night, none owned a guaranteed roster spot last season. With Curry, Thompson and D'Angelo Russell out, coach Kerr named Bowman -- one of Golden State's two two-way players -- the team's starting point guard. 

The next step for the listless Warriors is closing. In Friday's loss to the Spurs, Golden State had one its best starts of the season. Russell scored 19 of his team-high 30 points in the first 24 minutes, helping keep Golden State within two points of the Spurs at halftime. However, Russell struggled in the second half, making just two shots, as the Warriors were outscored 70-55 over the final 48 minutes.

[RELATED: How Draymond's injury impacts Warriors]

A night later, despite a lead in the final two minutes, mistakes doomed the Warriors' bid for their second win of the season. An inbounds turnover by Lee was compounded by the team allowing two offensive rebounds off late missed free throws by Charlotte with Willie Cauley-Stein -- who had eight rebounds on the night -- on the bench, providing yet another lesson for the undistinguished Warriors. 

"The Spurs game we played a good half, today we played a good three quarters," Lee said. "It's just a matter of finishing the game."

Warriors' youngsters must learn to close after showing fight vs. Hornets originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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