Warriors go back to work following first loss of season
OAKLAND — The Golden State Warriors did something for the first time this season: practice following a loss.
After returning home from a grueling two-week road trip that started with six straight wins to extend their record start to the season to 24-0 before finally losing in Milwaukee on Saturday night, the Warriors have a chance to catch their breath.
They took a needed day off Sunday before returning to a light practice on Monday as they gear up for their next game at home Wednesday night against Phoenix.
"The perspective of being 24-1 is a little different than undefeated," star guard Stephen Curry said. "You don't have to answer questions about it, hopefully no more creative shirts in the stands and stuff like that. We can just play basketball. It is just about how we're playing. Obviously we want to continue to win games. We have to take our game to the next level."
The road trip featured circuslike levels of attention with Cam Newton and several Carolina Panthers coming out for Curry's homecoming in Charlotte, a live feed of Curry's pregame warmup in Boston and an almost college-style atmosphere in Milwaukee with fans wearing T-shirts with "24-1" on the front.
But the streak also overshadowed parts of Golden State's game that had been slipping of late, including defensive rotations, stagnation on offense and too many sloppy turnovers
"There was a lot of talk obviously with the streak and all that," Curry said. "At a certain point it kind of became about just winning the game. ... We didn't play our best for probably about three straight games. With the streak over and all that, hopefully we can get another one going, we can focus on the details of how we're playing and continue to get better and focus on the things that will help us win a championship let alone regular season games."
Now with just five games — all at home — in the next two weeks, the Warriors will have the time at practice to work on those little parts of their game.
"We're continuing to work toward being a championship team and that requires us getting better than we were last year," interim coach Luke Walton said. "We know that, our guys know that and we'll keep working at it. It's harder on the road and when you're constantly winning to focus on the little details. Now that we're back home I think we'll have the chance to clean some things up."
That was tough to do on a trip that took them from Utah to Charlotte to Toronto to Brooklyn to Indianapolis to Boston and then Milwaukee. It included two sets of back-to-backs, including the game against the Bucks a night after winning a double-overtime thriller against the Celtics.
The Warriors didn't make it to Milwaukee until 3 a.m. Saturday and just ran out of energy in the loss that ended the streak as they came just short of becoming the first team in NBA history to have a perfect road trip of at least seven games.
"That's why it's so hard and nobody has ever won seven straight in a road trip before," Walton said. "It's a difficult thing to do, especially coming off that back-to-back. We just ran out of gas."
While Golden State's streak reached 28 regular-season games, dating back to last season, it fell five games short of the record set by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971-72. There are still other marks to chase. The Warriors have won 28 straight home games in the regular season since losing to Chicago on Jan. 27 — 16 shy of the mark set by the Bulls in 1995-96. Golden State is also chasing the single-season wins mark set by those Bulls with 72 in the 1995-96 season.
The Warriors hope to get a boost sometime soon with the return of injured forward Harrison Barnes, who has missed eight straight games with a sprained left ankle. Walton said Barnes will miss both games this week before being re-evaluated.
But Klay Thompson reported his sprained ankle that kept him out of Friday's game in Boston and seemed to hamper him a bit in Milwaukee is much better and shouldn't be a factor Wednesday.
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