With the game on the line, the Warriors put the ball in the hands of rookie point guard Charles Jenkins, who finished with 18 points and a career-high 12 assists.
But he couldn't cap one of the best nights of his career with the game-winner. His attempt to tie the score in the final seconds was blocked by New Jersey Nets forward Gerald Wallace. Golden State blew a 19-point lead at home Friday and lost its fourth in a row, 102-100 to one of the league's worst teams.
Jenkins' performance was one of the few bright spots for the Warriors. He played 37 minutes and shot 6 for 12. He went toe to toe with one of the league's best point guards in New Jersey's Deron Williams, who finished with nine points on 2-for-13 shooting but had 20 assists, an NBA-high this season.
"He knows how to play," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said of Jenkins. "He's going to get better at reading pick-and-roll situations. You're talking about a rookie that wound up with a double-double against arguably the best at his position. Played him tough, scored and made the right decisions by distributing the basketball. It's great to see how he's playing and what type of true professional he is."
Unlike in his previous big game, when he scored 27 points in a loss at Portland on Sunday, Jenkins was an effective floor general.
As in the Portland game, Jenkins had the ball in his hands in the final seconds. At Portland, he was trying to get the ball to Klay Thompson before hoisting a 3-pointer that missed. Friday, after dribbling around, he tried to pull off a turnaround jumper in the lane. Wallace denied him.
That's two failures in late-game situations for Jenkins. But two valuable experiences.
"Not to get too deep (in the lane), because I'm not 6-foot-6," Jenkins said of his lesson learned. "Something that I've learned is to at least take a quicker shot so our guys can rebound and get another one off."
Jenkins became more of a scorer in the second half, scoring 13 points on seven shots. He also had four assists after halftime, including a setup of Thompson's 3-pointer with 4:35 left in the third quarter. That gave the Warriors a 76-57 advantage, but they crumbled under the aggressiveness of the Nets in the fourth. New Jersey closed the game with a 17-8 run over the final 6:21.
"I'm embarrassed and disappointed with the way my team performed in the second half," Jackson said. "We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. We played against a team that we had on the ropes. ... They outworked us in our own building. We had everything going for us, and we started messing around. And losers play around."
Jenkins put the Warriors up 98-94 with an improbable 3-pointer -- beating the shot clock with an off-balance hoist over a defender -- with 2:43 left. But Williams answered with a 3-pointer.
After Thompson missed a 3-pointer the next time down, Nets forward Kris Humphries tied the score at 98 by making one of two free throws.
The Warriors went to David Lee, who finished with 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting. He got the ball on the left side of the key and dropped in a turnaround hook with 1:46 left, putting Golden State up 100-98.
But the Nets' Gerald Green dunked home a baseline drive to tie the score. Then, after a Lee turnover, Green dropped in a one-handed floater with 51.8 seconds left.
Rush's runner was blocked, but the Warriors got the ball back with 8.7 seconds left. The final play called for a screen-and-roll with Jenkins, but he came up short.
"He's done exactly what I've asked him to do," Jackson said. "To his credit, he was ready when I called upon him."
So why doesn't Tyler get more minutes? Trying to coax a victory, Jackson feels more comfortable with Lee at center most times.
"A lot of times, similar to when (Andris Biedrins) was starting, teams go small," Jackson said. "And, quite honestly, our best lineup is small. This is nothing against Jeremy. I think if you asked him early on that he would going to get 10 to 15 minutes, he would've said, 'Yes, Coach, I appreciate it.' "
The Warriors have until Saturday to decide on Gladness. League rules allow a player to sign two 10-day contracts. After that, he has to be released or signed for the remainder of the season.