OAKLAND -- It wasn't quite We Believe. Still, the Oracle Arena crowd was frenetic enough to justify the hype. All it needed was for the object of its affection to feed it.

And Thursday, the Warriors didn't do it nearly enough. Not in earnest until the second half. By then, it was too late.

The 98-96 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 3 now tops the list of disappointing home defeats, a frustrating trend that has tainted an otherwise impressive season. It's not so much that the Warriors lost, but that the Clippers got away without getting their best shot.

The Warriors squandered the home-court advantage they snatched with a Game 1 win in Los Angeles.

Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) reacts to a missed shot against the Los Angeles Clippers in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of their Western
Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) reacts to a missed shot against the Los Angeles Clippers in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of their Western Conference NBA playoff game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. on Thursday, April 24, 2014. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group) (Doug Duran)

Oracle used to be the equalizer for the often overmatched Warriors. The zeal of the crowd, the energy in the building, it was the spinach that helped them knockout Bluto. But too often this season, what was supposed to be their greatest strength backfired. It happened again Thursday.

The Warriors were the team that tensed up in the wild atmosphere. They looked nervous, overwhelmed. The pressure of performing on one of the NBA's greatest stages appeared too much.

The home team got behind by as much as 18 points before they began creating the revered atmosphere known as Roaracle. They turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter. They missed their first 10 3-pointers on their way to 37.8 percent shooting in the first half. When Klay Thompson finally knocked down one, from the left corner, it shrunk the Clippers' lead to 46-42.


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By the end of the third quarter, they were 2 of 20 from 3-point range with 16 turnovers and shooting 37.5 percent from the field.

"Bad shooting night," said Thompson, who missed 9 of 11 from 3-point range. "It's a disappointment because we can't let ourselves get down 18 to that team. We're in our home building and it's where we play the best."

The sea of gold practically begged for something to go nuts about. The Warriors squandered just about every opportunity to sick the famous crowd on the visiting Clippers. At one point, former Warriors' point guard Jarrett Jack had the loudest ovation honors when he was shown on the big screen.

Finally, Draymond Green fed the beast.

With six minutes left in the third, the second-year forward inspired a comeback. He got a three-point play on a dunk, followed by some words with Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.

Then on the defense end, Green slapped a flagrant foul on Blake Griffin, which the crowd loved. Barely a minute later, he capped a 7-0 Warriors run with another dunk. Then his 3 from the right corner trimmed the Clippers' advantage to 68-60 with 3:20 left in the period. The Warriors were back in the game.

"We had nothing going," Green said. "I knew I had to do something."

Midway through the fourth quarter, it started to feel like the Oracle advantage was back. The Warriors were making threes again. The defense was coming up with stops. The building was shaking under the weight of Bay Area fanaticism.

But even this game ended like so many have.

Home has been a sore spot for the Warriors all season. They won 27 games, but perhaps just a few more wins at Oracle might have meant the home-court advantage in the playoffs.

Along with the high decibels and reputed fanaticism, Oracle has become the home of nervous energy. Confidence the home team would eventually pull it out has been dissipated by a host of unsettling defeats.

It's a big reason Mark Jackson's status is reportedly uncertain, because temperamental co-owner Joe Lacob sits courtside dying a slow death with each improbable defeat.

The Warriors lost to San Antonio without the Spurs' best players in the lineup. Twice.

They lost to Milwaukee, Cleveland, Minnesota, New York and Denver twice -- all teams at home watching the playoffs. Washington and Charlotte, albeit playoff teams, had no business winning in Oracle either.

Throw in nail-biting losses to Miami and Houston, and you can see why Oracle adopted a nervous energy quickly.

It looked for a moment as if Oracle magic would happen in Game 3. Curry's third 3-pointer of the quarter, this one with 11 seconds left, cut the Clippers lead to 1. Then after Chris Paul split a pair of free throws, the Warriors had the ball with the last shot.

Hope the Warriors would pull one out after struggling all game long existed, but that fear was still present. And it was realized when Curry's game-winning attempt fell short. Yes he was fouled. But it was a fitting end.

Because in the end, Oracle is only an advantage if the home team capitalizes. Once again, the Warriors didn't.

Read Marcus Thompson II's blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/thompson. Contact him at mthomps2@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ThompsonScribe.