When the Warriors left the Bay Area this week for the most important road swing of the season, they talked of packing their defense. Two games into the trip, they’re still waiting for it to show up for a full game.
It was there in the opening minutes and reappeared for most of the fourth quarter Friday night but was not enough to prevent a 127-119 loss to the Hawks in Atlanta.
The Warriors have lost 10 consecutive road games, their last victory coming on Jan. 30 at Oklahoma City.
Six Warriors scored in double figures, with Stephen Curry pouring in a game-high 31 points to lead the way. Kevon Looney posted a double-double, with 18 points and 16 rebounds.
Here are three observations from Golden State’s second straight loss:
Death by turnover
The Warriors made a terrific comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, and they did it mostly behind a spirited defense that limited the Hawks to 23 points, their lowest output for any quarter.
But they couldn’t stop undermining their good work with turnovers.
That’s what hurt them early, when the Atlanta scored 11 points off giveaways in the first quarter – and it short-circuited their attempt for a comeback victory.
Golden State committed three turnovers in the final six minutes, twice bollixing opportunities to tie the game or take a lead. They were thwarted by errant passes, by offensive fouls and a couple failures to get back on defense.
While the Warriors’ 3-point shooting was a big part of their downfall, they’ll lament the fact that the Hawks scored 21 points off their 17 turnovers.
A new dimension to a split personality
The Warriors this season have been an entirely different team on the road (abysmal) than at home (fabulous). They’re now generating a new trend in a similar vein:
Tremendous in the opening minutes, atrocious in those that follow.
After forcing the Hawks to miss seven of their first nine shots and racing to a 16-4 lead less than four minutes after tipoff, Golden State stumbled through the final eight minutes of the first quarter and were outscored 35-15. The Warriors’ six turnovers during that stretch gave Atlanta 11 points.
Down eight to open the second quarter, the Warriors spent the rest of the night trying to catch up and never did.
This comes two nights after Golden State bolted to an 8-1 lead over the Clippers in Los Angeles in the first three minutes before snoozing over the final nine minutes of the opening quarter and being smoked 27-15.
Sometimes, even the best intentions go quickly awry.
The wild inconsistency of Jordan Poole
Jordan Poole is both a wonderful player and a horrible player. A scoring whiz machine and a turnover machine. A speed demon with feet of grease.
One of Golden State’s nagging issues this season has been JP’s inconsistencies, which are very real and lately have left plenty of scars of the team’s search for effectiveness.
Poole was a central figure in a first quarter collapse, posting a minus-15 playing six minutes during which Atlanta outscored Golden State 23-8.
Poole is a cumulative minus-50 over his last six games, only once finishing in the plus category. In the five games before that, He was a cumulative plus-67, finishing each in the plus-category. In the five games before that he never posted a plus total and was a cumulative minus-40.
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The Warriors over those 16 games are a predictable 8-8.
It’s hard to imagine the Warriors gaining anything close to momentum if JP can’t stop shutting between spells of brilliance and futility.