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Warriors' get-well homestand turns into disastrous, cruel mirage

Warriors' get-well homestand turns into disastrous, cruel mirage originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Arriving in the Bay Area after their Christmas Day flight from Denver after losing to the Nuggets, the Warriors saw an oasis in the form of seven consecutive home games. They believed confident winning ways were in store.

They had no idea that what they visualized would be, or could be, so devilishly deceiving.

It was but a cruel mirage. The projected curative stretch afforded by a schedule allowing practice sessions and frequent trips to Chase Center to properly treat their ailing season brought more damage than aid.

Confirmation came Wednesday night, when the Warriors punctuated their longest homestand of the season with a 141-105 loss to the scrappier, sharper New Orleans Pelicans.

“We didn’t show up,” Kevon Looney said.

The Warriors had not lost consecutive games by double digits since February 2023 – until it happened at the start of the homestand against Miami and Dallas and again at the finish against Toronto and New Orleans. Boos intermittently rolled through Chase during both games.

“We weren’t competitive these last two games,” coach Steve Kerr said.

Three days after the sub-.500 Raptors came into Chase and scorched Golden State Warriors with a 76-point first half, the Pelicans put up 73 before intermission. After allowing zero 70-point first halves in the first 33 games, the Warriors have allowed three such smackdowns in the last four games.

“We can’t keep going this way,” Kerr said. “Two straight games being non-competitive at home. We have to find some fight. We may have to resort to some different tactics. More than anything we have to be connected defensively to give ourselves a chance.”

Golden State’s 124.4 defensive rating over the previous six games ranked 29th in the 30-team NBA during that span. And New Orleans’ total topped each of the previous six games on the homestand – and every opponent this season.

“We’re getting beat off the dribble,” Kerr said. “We’re not hitting bodies enough on boxouts. There just seems to be a lot of space for our opponents to find.”

When the Warriors exhibited even faintest signs of life on Wednesday, they quickly flickered out.

After trimming a 25-point deficit to 10 in the third quarter, New Orleans center Jonas Valanciunas response was to score 15 points in the quarter, unleashing upon rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis a lesson about the hazards of trying to defend powerful 7-footers in the league.

The score at the end of three quarters: Pelicans 105, Warriors 83. Good night. Abysmal two weeks.

Stephen Curry’s homestand was one of the most forgettable of his 15-year NBA career. He averaged 22.0 points per game on 37.2 percent shooting from the field, including 32.9 percent beyond the arc. This was about as bad as he’s looked all season, and the team offered very little to fill the void.

“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us,” Curry said. “Nobody is going to help us get out of this hole. We have to do it ourselves.”

Curry’s struggles were merely a clue to the misery that befell the Warriors over the past two weeks. Nobody shined with any consistency and the team never looked hungry. Even the wins, over Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons, lacked an encouraging level of urgency.

“We obviously failed in our desire to build some momentum during this stretch,” Kerr said. “The Denver game was a gut punch. We felt like we had it and they snatched it. That really, with the injury to Chris, seems to have sapped us of confidence and direction. We seem out of sync at both ends.”

The return of Draymond Green, anticipated next week, should bring some relief but surely won’t be enough to fix the myriad issues facing the Warriors. The same can be said of Gary Payton II, who could return sometime in February. Chris Paul’s absence is felt, too and the hope is that he also can return sometime in February.

The homestand was every bit the colossal bust that the 2-5 record indicates. The Warriors touched down in San Francisco 17 days ago with a .500 record (15-15) and will drag a 17-20 record with them to the airport Thursday morning when they fly to Chicago to open a four-game road trip.

General manager Mike Dunleavy, even with the blessing of CEO Joe Lacob, has a considerable amount of ultra-heavy lifting to do in the coming weeks.

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