After their most impressive performance of the season on Sunday, the Warriors set a goal of reeling off a few wins in their pursuit of a decent postseason seed.
And though the timing seemed right Monday night, with the Los Angeles Lakers coming into Chase Center without primary big men Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol, there were be no victory.
Not even close, as the Warriors had almost as much trouble generating offense as playing effective defense in taking a 128-97 loss that dropped their record 20-20.
Steph Curry scored a game-high 27 points, but didn’t get much help from his teammates. LeBron James posted a triple-double with 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
Here are three takeaways from a game that clinched a two-games-to-one regular-season series win for the Lakers (26-13).
Oh, where did the defense go?
All season long, the Warriors have been consistent with the message that they would be no better than their defense. They hoped their superb performance in beating the Jazz on Sunday was a glimpse of things to come.
And maybe it will, but there was not a rumor of evidence of such in this game.
As the Warriors fiddled early, the Lakers brought energy and aggression and accuracy, shooting 68.8 percent in the first quarter. They “cooled” to 68.4 in the second quarter before tailing off to 45.5 in the third.
By then, though, the Warriors trailed by 20 (93-73) and knew there would be no coming back in the fourth.
There wasn’t. This Warriors season has been defined by two-game sequences like Jazz/Lakers, and that inconsistency is precisely why they are .500.
Chef Curry lonely in kitchen
One day after the Warriors hit the powerful Jazz with a multi-pronged offensive attack, with five players scoring in double figures, Curry cooked alone.
Andrew Wiggins’ output dropped from 28 to 15, Jordan Poole from 18 to 14 (12 of which came in the fourth, with the game entirely out of hand), James Wiseman from 16 to seven and Draymond Green from 11 to two.
The Warriors simply never put together a solid offensive stretch, submitting shooting percentages in the low 40s in every quarter except the garbage-time fourth. There were the usual missed layups, accompanied by a couple 3-pointers that missed the rim entirely.
For the second time in the last two games against the Lakers, Curry and Green spent the fourth quarter watching helplessly from the bench.
Second Unit, Part III
As long as coach Steve Kerr remains committed to the second unit that made its debut 11 days ago in Phoenix, he’s going to have to live with defensive leaks.
Oubre is the best defender in that group, but he’s at his best when he can be aggressive. He has to stay conservative when he’s running with the likes of Nico Mannion, Eric Paschall, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Wiseman and Poole.
The Laker seized upon this, with 6-foot-8 backup big man Montrezl Harrell doing most of the slicing and dicing. He scored 19 points in 16 first-half minutes, disregarding a five-inch height deficit and taking Wiseman to school, to church and to the woodshed. Harrell finished with 27 points.
Wiseman was not alone in being abused, as the LA bench outscored that of the Warriors 71-41, assuring that Golden State would have no chance on a night most of its starters never found rhythm.