Warriors lose at home to the 14-50 Spurs and continue tumble back to 10th seed

SAN FRANCISCO — The West standings are condensed enough that a two-game swing in either direction could be the difference in a few spots of playoff seeding a month from now. That’s what makes this among the more detrimental 48-hour stretches of this stormy Golden State Warriors season.

They blew a 13-point lead to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night, lost Steph Curry to an ankle sprain with four minutes left and gave away a winnable game in the process. Then they backed that up with their biggest dud in months, considering circumstance, a 126-113 loss to a 14-50 San Antonio Spurs team that didn’t have Victor Wembanyama. Despite Curry’s absence, the Warriors entered as 12-point favorites and fell down as many as 21 to the worst team in the conference.

“This is a bad loss,” Klay Thompson said. “Not good.”

Two wins in three days would’ve edged them near the eighth spot, within a half-game of a Dallas Mavericks team they face three more times, and only 1 1/2 games out of sixth. But the two losses — which drop them to 17-17 at home this season a year after they went 33-8 at Chase Center — planted them alone in 10th, behind the Los Angeles Lakers again, seated 3 1/2 games out of sixth with only 19 games left.

Without Curry, the Warriors rearranged their starting lineup further, promoting Chris Paul in place of Curry and replacing Andrew Wiggins with Trayce Jackson-Davis. Steve Kerr said it was a defensively driven decision. He wanted to pack the paint and protect the rim with Jackson-Davis next to Draymond Green to open the game.

The spacing was clunky. The Warriors scored only 9 points in the first five minutes. But they also gave up only 9 points. The Spurs make only 35.1 percent of their 3s, the fourth worst in the league, so the Warriors felt comfortable letting the ball funnel to players like Jeremy Sochan and Zach Collins for semi-open looks from 3.

“I liked the way the game started,” Kerr said. “Sochan hit two 3s, which you don’t expect that. But I thought our defense was really good.”

Then it wasn’t. The Warriors went from strategically siphoning the basketball to a preferred direction and still scrambling for late closeouts to getting blown by on the perimeter and failing to get out to even throw a half-hearted contest at some of San Antonio’s better shooters.

Jackson-Davis called them “HORSE” shots, wide open in rhythm catch-and-shoot jumpers that give any NBA player and team life. The Spurs responded with their best shooting game of the season: 17 of 33 overall.

“We had multiple breakdowns,” Kerr said. “They got to the rim at will. We gave up 28 free throws and 17 3s. You gotta stop something, and I thought they got anything they wanted all night.”

The Spurs won the second quarter 30-16. The Warriors offense struggled to generate clean looks early because of a lack of spacing and then didn’t even hit enough of those clean looks once some of their floor spacers entered the game. Moses Moody missed all six of his 3s and went 2-of-11 overall. They went 10-of-30 from deep as a team. Thompson made half of those 3s. They had 43 first-half points against the league’s 23rd-ranked defense that didn’t even have its rim protector.

“I didn’t feel like we had confidence or energy,” Kerr said. “Obviously we’re playing some lineups that haven’t played together a whole lot. With Steph out, it changes things dramatically for us in terms of what he provides, not only with his shooting but the spacing and the gravity. They did a good job of just staying in front of us. I didn’t think we moved the ball particularly well.”

Brandin Podziesmki struggled to finish on the interior in his 31 minutes. His impact has cooled since the recent knee injury. Jonathan Kuminga muscled his way to 26 points, but everything felt laborious. Paul missed a few open mid-rangers. There was little flow to anything the Warriors did.

They have a chance to respond quickly. They face this same Spurs team Monday in San Antonio, but the challenge depends. Wembanyama is expected back. Curry has already been ruled out. He will be evaluated again Tuesday, leaving the door open for a return in Dallas on Wednesday or Los Angeles on Saturday if the ankle responds well.

“We’re playing a lot of young guys. This is all part of it. You have to go through multiple seasons to really understand the different games that are going to happen, the styles, the different emotional swings. All of that has to be experienced by young guys in order to develop and grow and learn how to win.”

(Photo of Dominick Barlow shooting over Draymond Green: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)

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