NEW YORK -- "Make-or-miss league" is one of Mark Jackson's favorite catchphrases, and it certainly was applicable in the Golden State Warriors' agonizing missed chance at major history Wednesday night.
After a hard-fought, back-and-forth battle, the Warriors took a 93-89 lead over the Brooklyn Nets with 4:06 to go, and with one big made bucket, might have closed out several big deals.
Longest Warriors' road winning streak ever (eight games). Matching of the franchise's longest-winning streak ever (11 games). And the cherry: The first 7-0 road trip by any club in NBA history.
But when it came down to it, the Warriors simply couldn't make the big one to seal it. In a span of two minutes, the Warriors missed four open three-point tries -- one by Stephen Curry, two by Klay Thompson, one by Andre Iguodala -- any one of which might have finished the job.
Instead, the Nets used Golden State's 3:57 dry spell to reel off nine straight points and claim a 102-98 victory at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. One that spoiled all the Warriors' assorted numerical quests but didn't completely spoil their collective mood after a 6-1 road trip for the second straight season.
"It's frustrating right now," said Curry, who had 34 points to lead Golden State's near-miss. "But you can look at the big picture of our road trip and realize we did some good stuff and put ourselves in position to capitalize on our home-heavy schedule the next couple months."
One might question why the Warriors didn't push the ball inside for higher percentage shots down the stretch. But for better or worse, that's who they are, and they won't apologize for it.
"We got some good looks, we just didn't knock them down," Jackson said. "It's a tough loss."
"I had great looks, especially those two 3's I missed," Thompson said. "But you can't let it get you down. You have to take those shots every time. But it's bittersweet, especially when we had a chance to make history and were up 16 at one point."
Indeed, the game started as if it would be a Warriors runaway. Golden State hit 11 of its first 14 shots, including 6 of 7 from 3-point range, to take a 32-16 lead with 1:43 left in the first quarter on Harrison Barnes' bomb from the corner.
But Brooklyn whittled away from that point, cutting the lead to 10 at the quarter break, then outscoring the Warriors 37-20 in the second period -- the most points scored against them in a quarter this season.
The Warriors fought back from 11 down in the third period to take a one-point lead into the final 12 minutes, and it was an epic battle to the finish against Brooklyn's cast of veterans.
But after the Warriors took the biggest lead of the quarter by either team (93-89), their offense went dry. The Warriors didn't score again until Curry made three free throws with 9.1 seconds left. The Warriors had to foul and hope for a Brooklyn miss, but Kevin Garnett knocked down two free throws with 8.5 seconds to go, and Joe Johnson did likewise with 5.1 seconds left after a Curry basket. That was it.
Some Warriors thought their best chance evaporated in the first half when they blew the 16-point lead.
"Especially on the road in this league, it's tough when you have to beat a team twice," said David Lee, who had 20 points and seven rebounds. "We were up and let them come back into the game."
That was pretty much the bench's fault, and Jackson said as much afterward. After perhaps their best game of the season in Milwaukee, the backups were a mess against Brooklyn, perhaps heightening the urgency for the Warriors to make a deal to upgrade the reserve unit. Brooklyn's bench outscored Golden State's 36-17.
As for the lost statistical milestones his team missed out on, Jackson was philosophical.
"The history that we're chasing after is bigger than a 7-0 road trip," he said. "So we move ahead, make the proper corrections and look forward to taking care of what we didn't take care of tonight. We will not lose sight of the fact that we were 6-1 on this trip."
Johnson led the Nets, who won their fourth straight under East Bay native Jason Kidd, with 27 points, while backup Andray Blatche added 17.
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