SAN FRANCISCO -- The hope is that Stephen Curry returns sometime after the All-Star break and, even before he has a chance to shoot holes through a defense, gives the Warriors a few elements they desperately need.
That is, at the most optimistic, at least 10 games away. Realistically, more like 15.
Meanwhile, the Warriors are facing the stiff headwinds that blow during the dog days of January. They’re stumbling. Tumbling. They’ve lost 12 of their last 13 games, and their showing Wednesday night may have been the most fretful yet.
In the course of being thrashed, 129-96, by the Utah Jazz, there were too many moments when the despair was profoundly evident. Flat-footed and often careless on defense. A lack of passion and purpose on both ends. And, of course, moments of frustration.
“When you’re losing a lot of games and you’re beaten up, it’s not easy,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’ve lost 12 of 13. It’s no fun. Draymond (Green) got a technical for slamming the ball down and I guess the official (fourth-year ref Jacyn Goble) had to call it.
“Draymond came over and said, ‘You don’t think I’m frustrated?’ And the official said, ‘I know you’re frustrated, but I still have to call it.
“That’s how we feel. We’re frustrated. And I’m frustrated.”
With young players forced to learn in real-time, veterans trying to produce while also tutoring and coaches biting their tongues, a perfect storm of wretchedness has descended upon the franchise that spent most of the past five years as the boss of the NBA.
Draymond submits another line (five points, four rebounds, two assists) uncharacteristic of his career and also is assessed his 12th technical foul in 33 games.
D’Angelo Russell scores 26 points, but generally gazes as drivers whoosh by and rebounds float past his ear.
Willie Cauley-Stein shoots 0-for-5 and stands motionless as Rudy Gobert swoops in for a dunk.
Rookie Jordan Poole shoots 0-for-6 and is showing signs of regression after four encouraging games.
“It’s tough,” Russell said. “We’re playing the cards that we’re dealt. It’s not easy winning in this league. But what you can do is continue to compete, continue to learn what you do well as an individual, what you can be better at as an individual and then, hopefully, that can be part of meshing with the other guys on the team.”
There have been nights when this was apparent. Remember the four-game win streak last month that included a double-digit win over Houston? The Warriors took Denver into overtime last week before being derailed by their shortcomings, and then beat Orlando two nights later.
There was no sign of such progress Wednesday, much less any chance of upsetting a Jazz team playing better than anybody in the league.
It looked as if the Warriors saw defeat coming and surrendered to it.
“We don’t have a consistent effort,” Russell conceded.
“They are a great team,” Glenn Robinson III said. “They move the ball and play together. I think that we can learn a lot of things from them.”
Hmm. Might that be a subtle hint that some of those zero-pass possessions D-Lo seems to manufacture several times a game might be counterproductive?
There was a lot of talk about the young guys -- rookies Eric Paschall and Poole, and second-year guard Jacob Evans III -- needing time to adjust to the ways of the NBA, its physicality and demanding schedule. And while there is some truth to that, the Warriors on this night and a few others have fallen victim to their own inertia.
Maybe it crested against the Jazz, who outrebounded the Warriors 56-37 and drained 11 more 3-pointers (17-6) while shooting 53.8 percent from the field. Utah missed 11 free throws and still won by 33.
Kerr used the term “demoralized” several times after the game, and it seemed fitting to the effort. But it’s Game No. 46, and it must be played. Then, too, the checks still cash.
“It’s no fun losing,” Kerr said. “But you have to go out and we have another game in two days and you have to keep pushing and keep plugging away.
“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, especially after the last five years.”