OAKLAND, Calif. – The gasps became audible on the court, from the bench and near the rafters.
The Warriors lost another All-Star once again with an injury. Klay Thompson clutched his left leg in pain after falling awkwardly on a fouled dunk attempt.
The Warriors expected the crowd at Oracle Arena to be loud for its final home game. But not for this reason. Once again, the Warriors experienced another incident in which they had to thrive through adversity.
This time, the Warriors ran out of bodies. This time, the Warriors could not overcome the obstacles.
The Warriors fell short in a 114-110 loss to the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, denying them a chance to extend their dynasty after winning three NBA championships in the past four years.
Stephen Curry missed a clean look on a mid-range jumper, and the Warriors tried to salvage their championship hopes by calling a timeout with .9 seconds left. Since the Warriors did not have the ball, the Raptors were rewarded with a technical. Kawhi Leonard then secured the win at the free-throw line. Then, the Warriors inbounded the ball, and the Raptors became NBA champions.
Before those turn of events, the Warriors had a fighting chance. Draymond Green forced a Danny Green turnover as the Warriors trailed, 111-110, with 9.6 seconds left. Curry had sank a pair of free throws. DeMarcus Cousins finished a basket at the rim.
It wasn't enough. The Warriors' remaining healthy players could not make enough plays. A little less than a month before free-agency decisions might diminish their talent, the Warriors had already lost two All-Stars.
Kevin Durant left early in the second quarter of Game 5 after rupturing his right Achilles tendon. Though Thompson walked back onto the court to sink a pair of foul shots with 2:22 left in the third quarter, he then went to the locker room and eventually left the arena on crutches because of a lower left leg injury.
The Warriors missed Durant, who had led the NBA in postseason scoring (34.2) before injuring his right calf against Houston in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against Houston. He scored 11 points in 12 minutes before injuring his right Achilles in Game 5 against Toronto. Before Thompson left the game, he had 30 points while going 8 of 12 from the field and 4 of 6 from 3.
The Warriors still tried to show strength in numbers with Curry (21 points), Andre Iguodala (22), Draymond Green (11 points, 19 rebounds, 13 assists) and Couisns (12 points, five rebounds). That paled to the Raptors' depth in Kyle Lowry (26 points), Pascal Siakam (26), Leonard (22) and Fred VanVleet (22). It did not help that the Warriors conceded 17 turnovers.
So much for the Warriors hoping two elements would help them force a Game 7 on Sunday in Toronto and extend the dynasty.
The man who once helped the Warriors to two consecutive NBA titles with two Finals' MVP performances remained about 3,000 miles away. So instead of benefitting from Durant's scoring, the Warriors tried to lean on his spirit.
The fans here cheered one last time in a building that stayed loud through the awful years and remained electric through the epic playoff performances. So on the final night the Warriors finally said goodbye to Oracle Arena, the sell-out crowd and local hip-hop artists yelled out hello for one last time.
The Warriors honored Durant and Oracle Arena in various ways. In a gesture to satisfy both audiences, the Warriors handed out T-Shirts titled "For OaKDland."
Warriors also wore the T-shirt during warmups. Some were not as subtle. Green and Cook wore Durant's number during warmups. Throughout the game, the Warriors then presented video tributes to Durant for his two Finals MVPs and his prolific play.
As the Warriors fully realized in three NBA title runs in the past four years, it matters more how they execute. All of which now elicits immediate questions on the Warriors future. Can the Warriors re-sign Durant? Is Thompson returning as expected? How do they bolster their bench? After all, the Warriors' championship foundation just formed some cracks.