OAKLAND -- Even at the end, when all that remained was the unwelcome final score, the sweet sounds of support soared from floor level to the upper reaches of Oracle Arena.
War-riors ... War-riors ... War-riors!
Even when the game itself was over and the Warriors were swept into the offseason by a 94-82 loss to San Antonio in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals, the crowd remained, standing and singing and clapping and cheering.
Not until Stephen Curry grabbed the microphone and addressed the audience -- his audience -- did the masses begin spilling out of the place they had so enjoyed visiting during the past seven months.
The deepest Warriors postseason run since 1977, which grew into the best story in the NBA playoffs, finally came to a close Thursday night. It died not without the spilling of blood, the application of stitches and the highest level of fan appreciation.
"We've got the best fans in the business," coach Mark Jackson said. "It was an incredible moment for them to acknowledge what took place this year and also for my guys to acknowledge that we don't take these incredible fans for granted.
"It's been a great ride."
The end was fair and fitting, the relatively inexperienced Warriors never quite able to catch a team that has been a postseason fixture for two decades. The team trying to learn how it's done could not overcome the team that knows how it's done.
"That's like a model for a team, for how you want things to be on any team," veteran guard Jarrett Jack said of the Spurs.
San Antonio shot only slightly better than the Warriors, rebounded slightly better and passed it with considerably more effect. That's why every Warriors rally, and there were many, each raising the decibel level at "Roaracle," ended without the desired resolution.
And yet, this night should not spoil what was a wildly successful season for a group of players, most of which are in the early stages of their NBA journey, who were unified from start to finish.
"That's the key for us," center Andrew Bogut said. "Everybody on this team is in it together. It starts with the coach and works through everyone else."
The Warriors were in the postseason for the first time in six years, and only the second time since 1994. Relatively unknown when the playoffs began, they became stars -- especially Curry -- before the eyes of a global fan base.
Underdogs in the first round against Denver, they won the series in six games. Underdogs again in the second round, the Warriors gave the Spurs fits.
One season ago, the Warriors spent the final weeks jockeying for advantageous position in the NBA draft. They finished with a 23-43 record, which left them in 13th place in the 15-team Western Conference. They finished 18 games behind the Lakers, an absurd 27 behind the Spurs.
That the Warriors were among the final eight teams in the postseason and were facing the Spurs graphically illustrates the scope of their bounce-back season, one of the most stunning turnarounds in league history.
And they did it without overhauling the roster around a single impact player -- a LeBron James or a Kevin Durant -- instead reshaping it around the core of Curry, David Lee and Klay Thompson.
General manager Bob Myers used the seventh overall draft pick to select North Carolina's Harrison Barnes, who became an immediate starter and this week was named to the NBA's All-Rookie first team.
They also made other significant moves, trading for Jack and signing veteran forward Carl Landry to a free agent contract. Neither player is an All-Star, but both are crafty and relentless and, moreover, positive additions to team chemistry.
Added to the growth of Curry and Thompson, along with the occasional but generally helpful appearances by Bogut, the Warriors were the surprise of the NBA for the first half of the season. It was enough to land them their first All-Star since 1997 (Latrell Sprewell) when Lee was selected for the game.
It all led up to Thursday night, with the building on fire, with CEO Joe Lacob coming out of his courtside seat, stomping his feet and shaking his fists during the furious late rally as the Warriors cut the deficit to two (77-75) with 4:28 left.
It was not enough, yet they did not go quietly -- certainly not Barnes, who returned briefly after sustaining a laceration over his right eye that required six stitches.
Consider that an appropriate farewell-to-the-season symbol for a team that prospered in the face of an assortment of aches and pains and injuries. The Warriors can be proud. So can their fans, who saw them go out on their proverbial shield.