SAN FRANCISCO — In a season filled with gut-punch losses, the Warriors absorbed another brutal blow in Saturday’s 145-144 double-overtime loss to the Lakers at Chase Center.
The Warriors had chances to win in regulation and during both overtimes, but they couldn’t finish the job, following a frustrating pattern they’ve been stuck in most of this season.
Coach Steve Kerr and his players have tried to remain optimistic after every close, tough loss. And they certainly had good reason to feel that way Saturday.
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Although they let a 15-point lead slip away in regulation, the Warriors hit several big shots in both overtimes — many of them by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson — and made the Lakers sweat before Dub Nation nemesis LeBron James sank two free throws in the final seconds to seal LA’s win.
Now, with the season having reached its midpoint, time is of the essence. At 19-24, Golden State sits 12th in the Western Conference, three games out of a play-in tournament spot.
Simply put, the Warriors need wins before the season spirals totally out of control.
“Our whole season, we’ve had some tough breaks, some self-inflicted wounds and games obviously we should have won,” Curry said. “Tonight is a night where you felt like you played well enough to win, almost like the Sac game [a 134-133 loss Thursday]. We fought the whole way, stayed in it even when things weren’t going our way, gave ourselves an opportunity. It shows that we really want it.
Golden State Warriors
“We’re playing with a little bit of desperation trying to change the tide of our season. Still have nothing to show for it right now.”
The Warriors now have been on the wrong side of four one-point games this season. Eleven of their 24 losses have come by five points or fewer. Had they won even just four of those close games, they’d be above .500 and in much better playoff position.
The losses have come in all forms, too. There have been blown big leads, as was the case against the Lakers. There have been rallies from big deficits that have fallen short. There also have been a few blowouts, though those haven’t been the norm.
As it is, the Warriors have 39 games remaining to salvage their season. That, more than the heartbreaking losses, is what the team is trying to remain focused on right now.
“We know how talented we are as a group,” Thompson said. “It sucks to lose any time, at a high level. We can learn from it. There’s plenty of basketball ahead to right the ship. We got time, but there needs to be a sense of urgency, obviously, but we don’t have to be discouraged.”
That can be easier said than done. Curry was so frustrated after Saturday’s loss that he ripped his jersey while walking toward Golden State’s locker room.
Kerr, however, found plenty of reason for optimism in the way the Warriors took LA to the limit.
“Just felt like we deserved to win that game the way the guys fought,” Kerr said. “So many plays that could have gone either way. That just felt like a game that we deserved to win. As long as we keep playing the way we played tonight, I think we’re going to turn this around and have a great season. I really believe that.
“I love our guys. They’re amazing. We’re going to turn it. Tonight, we didn’t get the result, but our guys showed who they are.”
That feeling is nice, no doubt. But in the NBA, what really counts are wins and losses. Feel-good moments only can do so much until the results match them.
“These last two games, if they go the other way, there’s a different vibe in our locker room,” Curry said. “The challenge is to not let the pain of it last. When we come back to practice, we have to come with the same desperation and energy, competitiveness and try to have a short memory.
“Losing sucks. It’s the worst feeling in the world. Until you get over the hump, you kind of have to just sit in it. That’s where we’re at.”