The Warriors watched another late lead slip away Wednesday night in their 119-114 overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Golden State has entered the fourth quarter with a lead in its last three losses to the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and Timberwolves.
“It’s the difference in all the narrative around our team,” Warriors guard Steph Curry said in the locker room Wednesday night. “One hundred percent. We’ve got to accept it.”
Curry and the defending-champion Warriors were 12 minutes away from stamping their second four-game winning streak of the season. They held a 14-point lead in the early minutes of the final frame. But the offense went ice cold and was outscored 37-21 while missing all 10 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter and overtime combined.
Losses like Wednesday night in Minneapolis can be blamed for the Warriors' inability to sustain momentum during their tumultuous regular season.
Golden State clung to a seven-point lead entering the fourth quarter Jan. 19 against the Celtics, only to be outscored 39-29 the rest of the way. Three days later, the Warriors built a 12-point halftime lead over the Kevin Durant-less Nets before losing their offensive touch in the final two quarters and suffering a four-point loss.
Wednesday night at Target Center was the same story against a team operating without star centers Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns.
"I thought we had control of the game, and then I thought we just kind of gift-wrapped it," Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the loss. "And not to take anything away from Minnesota, I thought they were great.
"... We got what we deserved."
Curry had a chance to dismiss Golden State's fourth-quarter struggles with a potential game-winning mid-range jumper with 6.1 seconds left. But it clanked off the rim.
“You make a couple shots, it’s a different story," Curry said. "Having a chance to win down the stretch, a shot that I can take and make -- I just missed it.”
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Through 51 games this season, the Warriors are 26-25. They stand in seventh place in the Western Conference, just 1.5 games behind the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers but a half-game from falling out of the play-in tournament picture.
Changing the outcome of several squandered late leads would surge Golden State up the standings and change the narrative surrounding the team.
The Warriors proved last season that playoff seeding isn't the most important factor in postseason success. But Golden State needs to find a solution for its late-game woes before it's too late.