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Steve Kerr on loss without Draymond Green: 'We had to play better, and we didn't'

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors admitted to missing the suspended Draymond Green in their 112-97 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night.

But they refused to use his absence as a cop-out.

"Draymond does a little bit of everything," said Klay Thompson, whose 37 points weren't enough with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving each going off for 41. "Obviously his playmaking, his communication, and his heart and soul. It's not an excuse, though."

Green was suspended after the NBA retroactively charged him with a flagrant foul 1 for striking James in the groin during Game 4. The foul triggered an automatic suspension and left the Warriors and their fans fuming.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr said "it's too simple to say that" the Warriors lost because of Green's absence.

"We weren't very good defensively," Kerr said. "We knew we were without Draymond, so there's no point in harping on that. We had to play better, and we didn't."

Kerr went with Andre Iguodala in the starting lineup in place of Green to match up with James but struggled to find suitable help at center.

"He's our center fielder in the back when he's able to see the whole floor," said Stephen Curry, who had 25 for the Warriors. "Tonight it was obviously different rotations, and we tried to adjust on the fly with different matchups. But we just didn't execute as well."

Green watched the Warriors' loss at Oracle Arena from the Oakland Coliseum next door, where theOakland Athletics were taking on the Texas Rangers. Joining Green at his viewing party were Warriors general manager Bob Myers and retiredSeattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who is an Oakland native. Green was seen drivingaway fromthe players' parking lot at Oracle Arena with Lynch shortly after midnight ET. He never went to Oracle after the game ended.

Sources told ESPN's Marc Stein that Green had to be out of the arena two hours before tipoff, but he would have been allowed by the NBA to enter the arena immediately after the game to join in the celebration had Golden State won.

There was no party to attend Monday night after the Cavaliers shot 53 percent, hit 10 of 24 3-pointers and handed the Warriors their fourth home loss this season, cutting Cleveland's Finals deficit to 3-2.

Green is a ferocious interior presence for the Warriors and allows the rest of their versatile group to switch liberally and make it hard on the Cavaliers to get open looks from the perimeter.

But Cleveland had little trouble getting to the basket Monday night, with James and Irving plowing into the paint without fear against Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, Anderson Varejao and James Michael McAdoo.

Golden State's most effective lineup all season -- the "Death Lineup" with Green at center, Harrison Barnes at power forward, Iguodala at small forward and the Splash Brothers (Curry and Thompson) in the backcourt -- makes life miserable for its opponents with its ability to switch on defense and get out in transition on offense. Green often leads those fast breaks, playing a point forward while Curry and Thompson spread out on the wings for 3s.

The 3s were still there in Game 5 -- the Warriors made 14 of 42 from long range. But the defense that helped them surge to a 3-1 lead in the series was nowhere to be found, and Bogut had to be helped off the court two minutes into the third quarter with an injured left knee.

James followed Bogut's exit with a dunk and Irving hit his third 3 of the game to give the Cavaliers a 74-68 lead, and they never looked back.

Leading up to this game, the Warriors blamed James for Green's suspension. They viewed James' stepping over Green during their Game 4 incident as a blatant show of disrespect and openly chided him for complaining about Green crossing the line with some of the trash talk that he hurled the four-time MVP's way during the exchange. Thompson said James "got his feelings hurt," and Marreese Speights tweeted a baby bottle emoji.

If they were trying to humiliate James, it didn't work. Instead, it appears to have just made him angry.

While absorbing merciless boos from the amped-up Oracle crowd every time he touched the ball, James steamrolled to the basket with no regard for the smaller Warriors.

The Warriors are still in the driver's seat heading back to Cleveland for Thursday's Game 6. No team has ever lost in the NBA Finals after leading the series 3-1. The Warriors will get Green back for Game 6, but it is unclear whether Bogut will be there as well.

Yet Kerr remained optimistic.

"I like our position a lot more than I like theirs," Kerr said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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