Warriors coach Don Nelson, coming off a five-game absence, acknowledged that stress and a frenetic environment probably wasn't the best prescription for one recovering from pneumonia.
Thursday, the Warriors gave him both in a 111-109 loss to the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena.
"I survived the game OK," said Nelson, who said he may not take the coming five-game trip. "I felt all right. I had one issue where I got pretty dizzy (in the second half). Other than that, I was all right."
The Warriors (6-12) overcame a listless first half, rallied to build a lead as large as 10 in the fourth quarter, only to have Houston come back and take the lead.
The teams traded baskets and stops down the stretch. After a pair of free throws by Rockets guard Aaron Brooks with 2.1 seconds left, the Warriors had the ball and were down by two points. But when guard Monta Ellis — who had 24 points, eight assists, six rebounds and nine turnovers — was whistled for traveling with one second left, Nelson had more than stress and intensity.
He had heartbreak.
For a 69-year-old still recovering from pneumonia, that can't be good. With games like this, Nelson may have to go back on the shelf until he's fully recovered, especially with a five-game winter road trip coming.
Nelson said team doctors are worried about him going on the road trip. He said he will decide after Saturday's game vs. Orlando.
"He looked very upbeat," said guard Anthony Morrow, who had 21 points and five assists. "He looked excited to get back out there. He's very competitive. It's good for him to be back. He's got his jersey in the rafters in Boston. When you're very competitive like that, you want to be around the game. I think he knows what he's doing. He knows his body. He'll be all right."
Nelson said he was told to take it easy. He needs to rest when he's away from the game and keep it mild when he's working.
He got up sparingly in the first half, partly because he gets dizzy when he gets up too fast. His one moment of animation came late in the second quarter after Ellis picked up back-to-back offensive foul charges. Nelson jumped up and down three times, displaying his two-inch vertical while waving his arms in protest.
He spent much of the fourth quarter on his feet as the Rockets chipped away at Golden State's lead. The Warriors missed 12 of their first 17 shots of the fourth quarter, several inside the paint. They went 4:33 without scoring, allowing Houston to reclaim the lead.
After Rockets forward Carl Landry knocked down a pair of free throws with 2:55 left in the game, the score was tied at 103. The worst-case scenario for Nelson — a high-stress, back-and-forth conclusion — was in place.
Ellis missed a runner, and Landry followed with a lay-up to give Houston a 105-103 lead. Morrow followed with a jumper to tie the game.
Lowry and Ellis each made a pair of free throws, leaving the game tied at 107. Then Lowry scored on a driving layup just inside a minute left.
Ellis turned the ball over on the Warriors' ensuing possession, dribbling it off his foot. But the Warriors got a stop and a driving layup by Morrow tied the game at 109 with 13.3 seconds left.
But guard C.J. Watson was called for a foul while contesting a pull-up jumper by Brooks, setting up the game-winning free throws with 2.1 seconds left.
Nelson was clearly agitated with the call after the game. That competitiveness has him back on the bench perhaps earlier than he should be. Still, Nelson said he trusts himself to know when to say when.
"I think I'm fairly careful," Nelson said, "though I've never been 69 before. So it's the first time I've ever been through anything like this at 69. I just don't want to be silly or stupid. I understand that age is a factor in these issues."