INDIANAPOLIS -- The Warriors had their three-game winning streak snapped, their feelings hurt and their resolve tested by the Indiana Pacers.
Golden State's 108-97 loss Tuesday was a rugged, scrappy, intense affair, punctuated by a fourth-quarter scuffle that spilled into the seats. Perhaps most important, it probably was a sign of what's to come.
As the season winds to a close, and the importance of the games increase, the Warriors will have to reach a higher level.
"Teams are gearing up for playoff basketball, ramping up the intensity a little bit," point guard Stephen Curry said. "It's going to happen. It's healthy just to not back down, be physical. You'd like to not see that tussle happen. But for the most part, it was just a good, clean physical game that we have to expect for the rest of the year."
The Pacers' size and athleticism, their hands-on style of play, disturbed the Warriors' fluidity. The Warriors committed 20 turnovers, leading to 29 points for Indiana. On top of that, Curry seemed to be the only reliable offense.
Curry had a season-high 38 points on 14-of-20 shooting. But the rest of the Warriors were 19 of 56 from the field (33.9 percent).
"Turnovers were a big problem once again," forward David Lee said after totaling 12 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and five turnovers. "Overall they outplayed us. They had more guys contribute than we did."
On the other end of the court, three Pacers stars
And point guard George Hill, at least for the first half, went toe-to-toe with Curry. Hill finished with 23 points and seven assists. Indiana shot 48.8 percent, taking full advantage of getting eight more shots than the Warriors.
No doubt, the Pacers are a formidable team, and they had a handy loss at Oracle in December fresh on their minds.
"We were up for this game," George said.
That's certainly what the Warriors can expect the rest of the season and especially in the final three games on this trip. Are the Warriors ready to knuckle down for the grind?
They nearly knuckled up, literally, Tuesday. With 6:10 left in the game and the Warriors down 95-85, Lee and the Pacers' Roy Hibbert exchanged shoves under the basket.
"I thought he kind of led with his elbow a little bit on the initial duck in," Lee said. "I shoved him back a little bit, and I think it kind of escalated quick from there."
Curry was trying to separate the two and went to push Hibbert off his teammate. Hibbert threw Curry to the ground, and the Warriors point guard got up and took exception, so Hibbert threw him down again.
"Seriously, I didn't even feel him," the 7-foot-2 Hibbert said. "He just ran up on me. I don't know. It's between me and David Lee, and (Curry) wants to get involved. ... I don't want to start anything with someone that's smaller than me. If I have somebody my size, we'll talk it out like men. ... I probably did toss the little guy to the side."
The scrum escalated into a tumbleweed of shoving that wound up in the first two rows on the baseline. Replays showed West bulling through the ruckus and grabbing Warriors center Andris Biedrins' head.
When the dust settled, Hibbert was ejected, and
The melee seemed to inspire the Pacers, who followed with a 9-2 run to put the game away.
"Two teams competing hard, two teams wanting to win," Lee said. "We leave that kind of stuff on the floor, and I don't think there is too much conversation that needs to come of it."
The Warriors' next three games figure to be just as intense and physical. With starting center Andrew Bogut out indefinitely -- he missed his second consecutive game because of back spasms -- will Golden State have enough bite left to weather the storm?
Perhaps their 42 turnovers the past two games are a sign the Warriors are wilting under the pressure.
Perhaps their 52 points in the paint the past two games (on 39.4 percent shooting) show they aren't ready for playoff-caliber basketball.
Or, maybe they are willing, as Curry taking on a 7-footer suggests. But they have to learn how to take it up a notch. The clock is ticking.
Lee said he suffered the injury in the second quarter when the Pacers' Orlando Johnson bulled through a screen and rammed into Lee.
Warriors (33-24) at New York (33-20), 5 p.m., CSNBA