Patrick McCaw Injury Has Chilling Effect on Warriors' Locker Room

SACRAMENTO -- The temperature inside Golden 1 Center began dropping the moment players from both the Warriors and Kings gathered around one player lying beneath the basket late in the third quarter Saturday night.

As minute after minute ticked by, players began peeling away so medical personnel could move in to get a closer look at a supine and immobile Pat McCaw.

He had soared in for a dunk that gave the Warriors an 88-69 lead, and on his descent was bumped by Sacramento forward Vince Carter. McCaw lost balance while airborne and landed hard on his back, immediately flipping over while screaming.

It was about 10 minutes before he was lifted ever so carefully onto a stretcher, strapped in tight, arms crossing his chest, and wheeled out of the arena and taken by ambulance to UC Davis Medical Center.

The Warriors won the game, 112-96, but it was evident in the aftermath that basketball was irrelevant to pretty much everyone involved.

"I'm not going to talk about the game, obviously," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after conveying his concern for McCaw. "It's not important."

Roughly two hours after McCaw was taken to the hospital, initial tests were encouraging. Chest X-rays were clear, as were results of a CT scan. He'll undergo an MRI test Sunday morning.

The hope is every test is negative and that McCaw can return to the team in a matter of days.

That explains the prayers. Players from both teams gathered, huddled in a prayer circle, as McCaw was being wheeled away.

"You hate to see a guy go down, especially under those circumstances," Draymond Green said. "I mean, basketball is cool, but when it's something that affects everyday life it's tough to watch."

At times like this it's the mystery, the not knowing, that gnaws at those closest to the injured. Voices in the Warriors locker room were mostly low, a few eyes were moist and nobody else wanted to talk much about basketball.

Truth be told, nobody was in the mood to ask about it either.

"I'm not going to say it can't get much worse, but that was hard to watch," Klay Thompson said. "I've seen some bad injuries. I know Pat's really tough, so when I saw he was down, I knew it couldn't have been too good."

Upon concluding his postgame news conference, Kerr, vacant stare on his face, put his hands in his pockets and walked away. Within minutes, he found Kings vice president/general manager Vlade Divac. The two shared a conversation in the hallway outside the visiting team's locker room.

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant came out and took six questions, none about basketball.

He did not, however, blame Carter.

"It's an unfortunate play," Durant said. "I know Vince's spirit and his hear and I don't believe it was intentional at all. It looked like he was just caught in the middle of wanting to get in the play and wanting to move out of the way. Pat was just coming so fast and it was just an unfortunate play.

"Nobody in our locker room thinks Vince did that on purpose."

That possibility did cross Kerr's mind, at least momentarily, seconds after McCaw went down. He screamed his displeasure, saying he was "mad" at Carter.

Kerr probably will be mad for a while, if not at Carter at the sight of one of his players compromised. Or maybe not. Emotions in the moment tend to be raw but generally soften once the mind is engaged.

The Warriors left Sacramento a victory that buoyed them not one bit. They snapped a three-game losing streak. They welcomed Thompson back into the lineup after he missed eight games with a fractured wrist. Their usual Sacramento postgame spread of Mexican-inspired food was catered into the locker room.

There was no warmth in that room, though. They had seen the kind of injury that forces even the fittest athletes to face their vulnerability and, in this instance, leave them praying that it doesn't alter the direction of their teammate's life.

Such a thought never fails to have a chilling effect. All they can do, in either locker room, is have faith that it doesn't last.

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