The Warriors' up-and-down season continued with a 114-93 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night, and Golden State snapped its two-game winning streak in the process.
After the Warriors cut their deficit to a point with 8:14 remaining in the third quarter, the Suns pulled away and didn't look back. Phoenix closed out the third on a 27-14 run. The Suns' lead ballooned with two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry off the court to start the fourth quarter, growing to 23 points when Curry was subbed off -- for good -- after playing fewer than two minutes in the fourth quarter.
Curry didn't touch the floor in the fourth until there was 7:32 remaining, as coach Steve Kerr opted -- as usual -- to play Curry for the duration of the third quarter. The point guard said he doesn't expect that to be the case as the Warriors move further along their schedule.
"That is the balance of the big picture and trying to win every game," Curry told reporters in his postgame video conference. " ... I obviously want to play as many minutes as possible and try to go and steal a game like tonight, but that stoppage he just reads on a night-to-night basis. As we get deeper in the season, we possibly can get a little more aggressive in that respect. It might be necessary, but right now it's just trying to get everybody comfortable."
The Warriors' loss to the Suns was their 19th game of the regular season, and their 22nd when you include three exhibition games that took place amid an abbreviated training camp. Golden State is a game away from the minimum threshold Kerr said he would need to figure his team out, and the Warriors continue to work out the kinks.
A night after one of his best performances of the season, offseason trade acquisition Kelly Oubre Jr. turned in perhaps his worst, shooting just 1-of-11 from the field and scoring four points. Rookie center James Wiseman scored five, a night after setting a new career high. Andrew Wiggins, Kent Bazemore and Brand Wanamaker were the only Warriors, outside of Curry, to take more than five shots and make at least half of them.
Curry remains patient, even as the Warriors' mistakes Thursday prevented them once again from sealing their first three-game winning streak of the season. He's Golden State's oldest player at 32 years old, and he knows his younger teammates are going to make mistakes.
He just doesn't want those mistakes to repeat.
"That's when it gets frustrating," Curry said. "When you call certain things out, and then you don't make the necessary adjustments. Tonight was a good learning lesson for us that finished the third quarter and the group that started the fourth: Find the guy that's hot, because you can kind of force the issue in that respect if you've got a good matchup. Slow things down, keep yourself in the game."
Curry noted earlier in his press conferences that the Warriors' losses have predominantly been lopsided. Golden State has been defeated by double digits seven times, and beaten by 20-plus points in four of nine losses.
The nature of those losses can be deceiving, Curry said, because he believes many have gotten away from them in a matter of minutes, as was the case Thursday. Curry wants the Warriors to have more consistency, but he said that starts with their mindset.
"We just have to come with the right intentions so that, at some point, it all clicks," Curry said. "And then [the rotation] understands exactly what we're trying to do. It's not ever gonna be just a one-man show. You can't win like that in this league."
Entering Thursday's fourth quarter sooner could've gotten the Warriors closer to a win, but it might not have gotten them any closer to what Curry believes they need in order to have consistent success.