Same issues doom Warriors as story of season continues in loss to Lakers

Story of the season: Same problems continue to plague Dubs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

After spending a couple months searching for defense and hearing Draymond Green send the team into the All-Star break with an urgent plea for it, the Warriors worked into the perfect opportunity Thursday night.

Trailing most of the first half, a midrange jumper by Klay Thompson 13 seconds into the second half pulled them within one point of the Lakers.

One stop, maybe two, could change the energy inside Arena.

One stop, maybe two, could allow the Warriors to seize that elusive component called momentum and perhaps ride it cathartic victory.

But no. Los Angeles scored 17 seconds later for a 62-58 lead and spent the next five minutes slicing through the Golden State defense.

A few blinks after being a bucket away from the lead, the Warriors were trailing by 16 on their way to a 124-111 loss that dropped them below .500 (29-30) for the fifth time since New Year’s Day.

“There were several key stretches where we had a chance,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We had gotten ourselves back in the game, and then we just couldn’t put it together. Couldn’t connect the game.

“It’s all right there for us on tape. We’ll show them and keep coaching and keep trying to get better.”

If these sentiments seem familiar, it’s because they are. And have been for most of this fitful season.

“Unfortunately, we’re struggling with the same issues,” Kerr said.

“We’ve just got to be better,” said Kevon Looney, who was terrific, grabbing 15 rebounds in 20 minutes. “All year, we’ve been saying we play good in stretches and then we have a bad stretch.”

The most crucial bad stretch came when the Warriors’ defense went comatose, allowing open 3-balls from the corners as the Lakers scored 20 points in less than five minutes – while the Warriors scored five – to take control.

Golden State never got closer than seven in the third before falling behind by as much as 28 (110-82) halfway through the fourth.
When the Warriors desperately needed their defense to show up, to give them a reason to believe they can make the late-season run required to avoid the dreaded play-in tournament, they were undone by the element that is threatening to steal their season.

“We’ve got to be better,” Looney said for the third time in three minutes. “We know what we need to do. We have appropriate energy and the talent to win. We’ve just got to put it all together.”

The Lakers blasted the Warriors while franchise players LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 25 points on 8-of-25 shooting from the field. LA gave Golden State 19 points off turnovers, which was somewhat offset by the Lakers’ 34-21 advantage in free throws.

Yes, the Warriors were guilty of excessive fouling. Again.

“We’ve got to stop reaching,” said Ty Jerome, who came off the bench to score 20 points. “We get so many cheap fouls. We emphasize it so much, like “keep our hands back,” and we keep doing it.”

That has been the story of this season. Talk about the problems. Revisit the problems. Emphasize the solutions. And the same problems continue.

This being the first game out of a weeklong break, the Warriors were in position to make a statement. To prove the defending champions are not the bunch that wobbled through the first 58 games. The last 24 would prove they are better than that.

Now, the count is down to the last 23 games. It’s “go” time. Or “no” time.

“As a group, we know that,” Looney. “We have a sense of urgency. We know every game is going to matter for us down the stretch. We can’t push too hard and gamble too much and get overzealous. We’ve got to stick to the game plan, stay disciplined and execute what the coaches are trying to get done.

“We’ve got another (game) tomorrow. We’ve got to move on and try to fix all the things that we’ve been messing up on.”

RELATED: Warriors searching for aggressive defensive identity

That game, against the Rockets Friday night at Chase Center, is why with the deficit grown to 20 (102-82) and 10:01 remaining, Kerr called timeout, pulled his last two starters, and waved the white flag of surrender.

On the night – not the season.

Not yet.

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