OAKLAND, Calif. -- They did their best to tame the usually raucous Oracle Arena crowd, finding a way to hang with the typically high-scoring Warriors.
The Nets were all square with Golden State Saturday night after trailing much of the game and were looking as if they might steal one. But they went scoreless in the final 1:36 and had a pair of crucial turnovers in a tough 93-86 loss to the Warriors.
"It definitely was a winnable game for us," Paul Pierce said. "I thought down the stretch, we just didn't execute offensively or defensively. I thought for the most part we defended well. We took away their three-pointers, we kept them out of transition. We just had breakdowns, untimely breakdowns on defense.
"At the worst time, we broke down on defense where for the most part we defended them well, then on the offensive end down the stretch, we just didn't execute. We turned the ball over a couple of times. You can't do that when you are preparing for the playoffs. You have to have flawless execution on both ends down the stretch."
Andray Blatche's driving layup tied the score at 86 with 1:36 to play, but Jermaine O'Neal hit two free throws 13 seconds later to put the Warriors ahead for good.
"They just did a better job down the stretch, made all the plays and got stops when they needed them," Deron Williams said. "It was definitely a winnable ballgame. We kind of beat ourselves."
Joe Johnson made a critical turnover with 51.6 seconds left with the Nets staring at a two-point deficit, throwing an ill-advised pass that skirted off the hands of Williams and out of bounds. It was one of 16 turnovers for the Nets (25-28).
"I think a lot of it was just carelessness," Pierce said. "Golden State doesn't come with real fancy schemes. They have a couple of good individual defenders, but outside of that, I thought a lot of it was just careless turnovers."
Stephen Curry banked in a three-pointer with 37.2 seconds left, a dagger of a shot, and Draymond Green clinched it by hitting two free throws with 29.4 seconds left.
Johnson said of his two late turnovers, "I give them credit for good defense, but it was me just being a little too anxious, me not taking my time. I picked my dribble up on the first one on a post-up with [Klay] Thompson and got stuck in the air and tried to pass it to D-Will and his man deflected it, which made him touch it and it went out of bounds. So both of those plays are on me. I'll take it and it was a tough loss.''
"We've got to execute better down the stretch, man,'' Kevin Garnett said. "That's what separates good teams from bad teams and separates wins from losses.''
At least Williams appears to have his confidence back. He unleashed a lethal crossover seemingly all night and had 20 points and six assists to lead the Nets.
They played the final three quarters without Shaun Livingston after he bruised his tailbone on an ugly spill in the first quarter. X-rays were negative.
Johnson added 15 points but shot only 5-for-16. Blatche had 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Nets, who still couldn't unwrap new acquisition Marcus Thornton; he couldn't go because of food poisoning.
O'Neal paced Golden State (34-22) with 23 points. Green had 18 and Curry netted a quiet 17.
Livingston left the game for good in the second quarter after taking a hard spill in the first. He went up for a layup with 3:32 left and got hit by Harrison Barnes, crashing hard on the court.
He initially shook it off and stayed in to take his free throws, hitting both. But he went back to the locker room to get checked out and never came back out.
"That's the hardest part, man," said Livingston, who isn't sure if he'll play against the Lakers on Sunday night in Los Angeles. "I hate missing any games, I hate missing any time. I just wanted to get back out there and help my teammates, especially because we got the loss tonight. It always hurts more."
Golden State was without two of its big men in David Lee and Andrew Bogut, but the Warriors still pounded the Nets on the boards and in the paint. Golden State snatched 50 rebounds to the Nets' 39 and racked up a 52-38 scoring edge on the interior, a problem the Nets are going to have to correct.
Otherwise, there are sure to be more nights like this on this seven-game road trip.
"It's very important, but we've got to learn from it also and we've got to make the necessary adjustments," Garnett said. "But like Paul said, winnable game, man. Tough place to play. They play great at home. I thought [O'Neal] played great tonight and took a lot of the perimeter stuff away. He did a great job of slipping and taking advantage of the defense and what they gave him. He was aggressive. It's what it is, man. But we've got to regroup."