Warriors

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from brutal 115-111 loss to Suns

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from brutal 115-111 loss to Suns

OAKLAND -- Though the Warriors repeatedly have vowed to up their level of engagement down the stretch, they showed little evidence of change Sunday night against the lowly Phoenix Suns. 

The Warriors allowed the Suns to rally for a 115-111 win, marking the first time in nearly five years that Phoenix beat Golden State in a game. The Suns outshot, outrebounded and, in most stretches, outplayed the back-to-back defending NBA champs.

In a game the Warriors claimed they wanted, their actions did not back it up. Here are the takeaways from their disappointing loss at Oracle Arena.

KD goes down, and the Suns go on a run 

Kevin Durant suffered a right ankle contusion in the fourth quarter and did not return. Following Durant's absence, the Suns seized control of the game, outscoring the Warriors 20-16 over the last five minutes. 

Devin Booker scored 37 points, including two free throws with 17.7 seconds left to ice the game. 

Sunday's defeat marks the second loss in the last three games for the Warriors, and the first time the Suns have beaten the Warriors since Nov. 18, 2014.  

Another good start

For the second consecutive game, the Warriors had a strong start, jumping to a 27-11 lead in the first quarter. 

Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant combined for 20 of the Dubs' 29 first-quarter points. Aiding the offensive attack was the Warriors' defense, which forced the Suns into five first-quarter turnovers. 

Such starts would be welcomed for the champs, who have struggled to stay engaged, except for ...

Another bad second quarter

The Warriors were outscored 40-28 in the second quarter, allowing the Suns to shoot 71.4 percent, as they erased a 16-point deficit. 

Golden State's second-quarter performance was a carbon copy of the showing in Friday's win over the Denver Nuggets, when the Warriors let a 19-point lead go to waste before halftime.

Sunday's performance proved the Warriors still have a long way to go to find the level of consistency they are searching for before the NBA playoffs start.

Warriors' Steph Curry second-best leader to Damian Lillard, NBA GMs say

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AP

Warriors' Steph Curry second-best leader to Damian Lillard, NBA GMs say

Warriors superstar Steph Curry is revered by his teammates and organization, and considered a fantastic leader.

Damian Lillard -- by all accounts -- is beloved by his Blazers teammates and franchise, and viewed as an awesome leader as well.

So it wasn't a surprise to see the following results to one specific question in NBA.com's 18th annual GM Survey:

Which player is the best leader?

1. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 41 percent
2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 37 percent
3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 15 percent

Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Chris Paul, Oklahoma City

Sure, Warriors fans probably think Curry should reside in the No. 1 spot. But this finding isn't a knock on the two-time NBA MVP, as it's more highlighting the positive perception (and reality) of Lillard.

Besides, Dame hails from Oakland and practically is slander-free in these parts. He grew up going to Warriors games at Oracle Arena. That's really cool.

[RELATEDNBA GM survey: Curry receives the second-most MVP votes]

But we will remind everybody that Curry and the Warriors eliminated Lillard and the Blazers from the playoffs in 2016, 2017 and 2019.

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Steph Curry reiterates championship goal despite slow Warriors preseason

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USATSI

Steph Curry reiterates championship goal despite slow Warriors preseason

The Warriors have one game to go on their preseason slate. So far, not so good. 

Golden State is 1-3 this preseason, losing all three of their games against the revamped Lakers. The Warriors' latest defeat came Wednesday night in a 126-93 beatdown by Los Angeles at Staples Center. In their three losses to the Lakers, the Warriors have been outscored by 61 points. 

While the Dubs were drubbed by 33 points Wednesday night, star point guard Steph Curry could only watch his team get crushed. The two-time All-Star was on a planned night off. His view of Golden State's loss, however, didn't change his view of the Warriors one bit. 

“A championship is still the goal,” Curry told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes. “It’s always been. We’ve experienced it all and we’re going to keep pushing to get back there. That’s the goal. It’s the North Star. The narrative might have changed internally, but we’re still chasing the same goal.”

The biggest difference for Curry and the rest of the new-look Warriors, which had players such as Jacob Evans, Alfonzo McKinnie and Marquese Chriss in the starting lineup in their fourth preseason game, is how they start the season. Simply put, the Warriors can't coast. 

In years past when it nearly felt like a guarantee the Warriors were bound for the NBA Finals, they could use the first quarter of the season as more of an experiment. This year, the focus must ramp up. 

“We’ve always talked about focusing on the first 20 games, but this season, it doesn’t mean as we’ve said before. In the past, it was focusing on the first 20 games just to break up the 82-game monotony of the season. Now, it’s like the first 20 games [are] in a sense of urgency,” Curry told Haynes.

“We’ve got to start off on the right foot and create a new identity and basically have fun playing basketball no matter what happens, while working through some of the unknowns."

[RELATED: Warriors' frontcourt issues highlight season of change]

The unknowns truly are what stand out. Even Curry, who has won three titles through his first 10 seasons in the NBA, doesn't exactly know what this Warriors team is.

The next time Golden State can look for some Lakers redemption is Friday at Chase Center as the Warriors close out their preseason schedule. Less than a week later, the stakes become much higher in the regular-season opener against the Clippers.