OAKLAND -- The Warriors have spent the better part of three seasons beating the vast majority of opponents and embarrassing more than a few. It had become routine, expected, bright and shiny validation of historical greatness.
Well, guess who is getting what they used to give?
The Oklahoma City Thunder strutted into Oracle Arena on Tuesday and strong-armed the Warriors, taking the money, the jewelry, the cars, the women and a 125-105 victory, leaving the defending champs to wonder not only what had hit them but also what it means.
“Just something we got to hold ourselves accountable out there and come out and be better next game,” Kevin Durant said. “Just try to stay positive and keep moving forward, and know this is not the end of our season.”
What’s plaguing the Warriors is bigger than one lopsided loss. It’s bad habits conspiring to leave them vulnerable. Turnovers. Shoddy defense. Missed assignments. Even forgetting plays called in the huddle.
The result is the Warriors looking very beatable. They’ve lost three of their last four games, something that had happened only once in the first 299 games under coach Steve Kerr.
More to the point, that’s twice in eight days that the Warriors have looked utterly helpless while being run off the floor and completely out of the gym. That it happened last week in Utah, against a Jazz team making an uphill fight to get into the playoffs served ominous notice.
That it happened again, this time in Oakland, a wire-to-wire loss to a long, active Thunder team certain to be in the playoffs, should sound every alarm, horn and siren in within the organization.
The Warriors were supposed to be ready for this, and they looked anything but, falling behind by 14 in the first quarter and never getting back into the game.
“That was the game, right there,” Durant said.
“I was hoping that coming home would help us get some energy and refocus,” Kerr said. “Obviously, that wasn’t the case.
In two games against OKC, the Warriors have lost by a combined 42 points. They committed 22 turnovers, leading to 34 Thunder points on Nov. 22 in Oklahoma City, and committed 25 more giveaways on Tuesday, leading to 38 OKC points.
“They’re built to guard us,” guard Shaun Livingston acknowledged.
“They’re very athletic,” Durant said. “So the stuff that we run, they did a good job of clogging the paint, getting in on shooter and getting their hands in the passing lanes.”
That game was poorly officiated was almost incidental. The Warriors shot 31 free throws, the Thunder 33. The Warriors were assessed five technical fouls -- two going to Draymond Green, resulting in his ejection -- while the Thunder received none.
The Warriors simply got knocked into a place with which they are not familiar. Getting pounded like this, at home, is is new territory.
“Just keep fighting, man,” Stephen Curry said. “It’s a long season. We know how to win. We know how to play. We know how to do the little things that get ourselves through a tough part of the season. We know how to show up for big games when we need to. It doesn’t happen every time, but there’s no question we know how to do it.
“Nobody’s jumping ship right now and nobody’s panicking. Just stick with it. We know who we are. We know what we’re about. And eventually it will click.”
Meanwhile, general manager Bob Myers has until noon Thursday to make a trade.
He also went to bed Tuesday night knowing the Warriors, despite losing three of their last four games, still have the best record in the NBA.
This is where the GM earns his salary. He has to find the right balance, a way to act but not overreact. A way to add someone who will be excited to join the Warriors without disrupting the core of the team that over the past three regular seasons has 207 games -- the most of any team in such a span.
Expect a deal, probably not seismic but a deal nonetheless. The Warriors’ front office is both restless and ambitious. They know the numbers: 0-2 against OKC, 1-2 against Houston, 2-2 against Denver. They won’t be comfortable with that.
Nor should they be.