As losses mount, frustrated Dubs only have themselves to blame

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SAN FRANCISCO – Another sorry finish led to another Warriors loss on Saturday and the good ship Dubs, barely afloat, is as rudderless and joyless as it has been at any time under the guidance of Steve Kerr.

The frustrations are piling up, as they should. It’s a natural reaction for a defending champion unable to fight off the sting of defeat for more than a few days and Stephen Curry is not available to play savior.

The most irritating thing about these persistent pangs of disappointment, the latest 109-103 loss at Chase Center, to a Los Angeles Lakers team without LeBron James, is the Warriors’ inability to solve problems they so deftly identify.

What could be more maddening than knowing what’s wrong, discussing appropriate responses and still failing to make it right?

Other than, perhaps, Warriors believing that they are better than their 28-28 record because, hey, they’re seven months removed from winning the NBA Finals.

“When you are losing games and you are .500, and you are not a .500 losing team, it gets frustrating,” Draymond Green said after his 12 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals went for naught. “But no one is going to feel sorry for you. No one is going to feel sorry for us.

“It is what it is. You have to keep fighting and dig yourself out of it and find a way.”

The Warriors have been digging all season yet remain in quicksand, close enough to see the path to the postseason but never able to walk or run or swim or crawl toward it.

They address defensive shortcomings, play a solid stretch at that end, only to slide back into serial ineptitude.

They address the issues behind blown double-digit leads – the count is up to nine, including two of their last three road games – only to relive it.

They address the poor fundamentals that give opponents second-chance points, the lack of consistent competitive grit that results in owning 50-50 balls and the lazy fouls that send opponents to the free throw line at the highest rate of any team in the NBA.

And, still, little or nothing changes for more than a game or two. Three at most.

“Our guys are frustrated,” Kerr said. “We've had so many close losses and we're right up against the All-Star break. I think our guys like everybody around the league, they need a break.

“But they're frustrated that we couldn't close out these last two games and we just haven't been able to string together enough wins to kind of create a little momentum and some separation in the standings.”

The Warriors dropped to ninth place in the Western Conference, which at the end of season would send them into the Play-in Tournament needing two victories to snag the eighth and final playoff berth.

With 24 games remaining in the regular season, Golden State is 10.5 games behind the first-place Denver Nuggets, two behind the fourth-place Dallas Mavericks and only 1.5 behind the sixth-place LA Clippers. The goal of getting the No. 6 seed – and avoiding the play-in – seemed much more realistic a couple weeks ago.

The Warriors are 2.5 games ahead of the Lakers, but it’s going to be difficult to maintain that edge given the roster improvements LA has made in the past three weeks. Those changes, as well as gritty play, surely played a role in the outcome on Saturday. The Warriors were minus-9 in rebounds and minus-7 in second-chance points.

“When you are down guys,” Green said, referring to the sidelined Curry, “you have to get 50/50 balls. You have to make those plays. We didn’t do a good job of that.”

The Lakers closed out the Warriors by limiting them to 33.3-percent shooting in the fourth quarter. Golden State’s five starters played a cumulative 32 minutes in the fourth and scored 17 points – all by Jordan Poole.

Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins, the team’s No. 2 and No. 4 scorers, were scoreless on 0-of-8 shooting in 17 combined fourth-quarter minutes.

“Our guys are definitely frustrated,” Kerr said. “But we'll keep going. We've got to just keep fighting, keep competing and we'll see. where it all goes.”

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If Kerr sounds like a coach without answers, it’s not because the answers are unknown. It’s that they haven’t been absorbed and become habit.

Until they do, this season is destined to have as many moments of misery as satisfaction.

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