Jackson: 'I could not be prouder of any group'
In Mark Jackson's second year as head coach of the Warriors, he guided the team to its deepest playoff run in over 30 years. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
OAKLAND -- As time expired in Golden State's 94-82 loss to San Antonio in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday, fans at Oracle Arena started chanting: "Warriors, Warriors, Warriors."
The loss marked the end of the team's longest postseason run in over 30 years, but the mood wasn't one of disappointment. Several minutes lapsed and several thousand fans remained inside.
Chanting continued before Stephen Curry took the microphone.
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He thanked the fans for their continued support -- calling it "unmatched" in the NBA -- and led a break between the team and fans: "One, two, three … just us."
"It was an incredible moment for them to acknowledge what took place this year and also for my guys to acknowledge that we don't take these incredible fans for granted," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "It's been a great ride."
At the start of the season, it was just the Warriors that believed their improbable regular-season success and postseason run was possible. The team plowed new ground and heads to the offseason with a sense of optimism, a rarity for a franchise usually preparing for its spot in the NBA Draft lottery.
"Just itching already to get back to this level because you know you're capable of doing it and hopefully go further," Curry said.
Curry led the Warriors with 22 points, but the team couldn't overcome another off shooting night (33-for-85, 38.8 percent).
After a pair of free throws from Jarrett Jack cut the deficit to 82-79 with 2:19 left, Kawhi Leonard answered with a three to give the Spurs a 6-point lead with two minutes left.
Golden State had threes from Klay Thompson and Curry swirl out on its ensuing possession before Tony Parker, who finished just 3-of-16 from the field for nine points, answered with a three to seal the win for San Antonio.
Said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: "We made some shots down the stretch, and they didn't."
It was that simple.
With the elimination of Golden State just five teams remain in the NBA playoffs.
Despite shooting just 25-of-64 (39.1 percent) from the field through the first three quarters, Golden State remained within striking distance. It trailed 66-59 headed into the fourth and cut the deficit to 70-67 on a Klay Thompson 3-pointer early in the quarter. Thompson, who finished third in the NBA in 3-pointers during the regular season, went seven consecutive quarters without a three before hitting one with 2:54 left in the third to cut San Antonio's lead to eight.
With 1:15 left in the first half, Harrison Barnes went down hard under the Spurs' basket contesting a Boris Diaw drive. He hit his head on the way down, which resulted in a cut near his right eye that required stitches. With teammates huddled around, he laid on the ground for several minutes before walking to the locker room while a team trainer applied a gauze to the cut.
After passing a concussion test, Barnes, who came into the game as the team's second-leading scorer in the series (19.0 ppg), emerged from the locker room seconds before the second half began and played the entire third quarter. However, Barnes would develop a headache, told Jackson he needed a breather and Jackson made the call to move on without him.
"I just saw in his eyes. It's not worth it," Jackson said. "He's had an incredible run. It was time to call it a night."
The Warriors were also without the services of center Andrew Bogut down the stretch. Jackson said they knew at the morning shootaround he would be limited due to an ankle injury that has plagued him throughout the season.
"It got to a point, you know, probably, I don't recall, but second or third quarter, where he basically told me he couldn't move," Jackson said. "I wasn't going to chance him."
Golden State trailed 47-40 at halftime after shooting 40.9 percent (18-for-44) in the first half. Curry had 16 first-half points.
- Warriors radio play-by-play announcer Tim Roye, in his 18th year with the team, was inducted into the Utica College Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame Wednesday in Utica, New York.
- NBA commissioner David Stern, Oakland Athletic manager Bob Melvin, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson and boxer Andre Ward were among those in attendance.
- The Warriors two wins in the series marked the first time since 1977 that the team won at least two games after advancing out of the first round of the playoffs.
- For the second straight game, the Warriors final lead came when they had 15 points.
#WarriorsTalk Tweet of the Game
Thank you Warriors for an incredible season. I'm still proud that you guys made it to top 8! #warriorstalk— Panic Ave. (@Panic_Ave) May 17, 2013
David Lee on Twitter
Amazing season by the best group of guys in the NBA, sorry to see it end tonight! Thanks again to our fans for their loyal support!!! #GSW— David Lee (@Dlee042) May 17, 2013