SAN ANTONIO -- The short version: Golden State lost a game it could've won, 104-93 to the host Spurs. It was the Warriors' 29th straight loss in San Antonio.
The long version: The Warriors, facing an NBA elite, showed some of the grind Wednesday that propelled them into the playoff picture in the first place.
They head home from the three-game trip with a loss, but it was still a successful trip. Not just because they went 2-1, but because they recaptured their identity.
"We looked like our old selves," coach Mark Jackson said. "I'm not looking at (this game), I'm looking at what's going to win down the road, what's going to be effective, how we compete. We did that when it mattered most, when everything wasn't going our way. We got back in it and we battled."
The Warriors (39-31) -- who blew out Houston and surged past New Orleans in the first two games of the trip -- sit a game ahead of the Rockets for the No. 6 seed in the West. But nine of Golden State's last 12 games are at home.
Saturday begins a five-game homestand that features four losing teams (Washington, Sacramento, Portland and New Orleans) with the Los Angeles Lakers mixed in.
So, Golden State is still in the driver's seat. And now it seems to be getting its mojo back, a sentiment bolstered by clawing back into the game against the vaunted Spurs, who were playing without All-Star point guard Tony Parker.
"Our goal is not to just make the playoffs, it's to compete," point guard Stephen Curry said after needing 20 shots to get 24 points. "You make the playoffs and get swept, that's bad. If you want to make the playoffs and make some noise, win some games and see what happens, you've got to be playing your best basketball at that time. So we've got three weeks to get it right."
It wasn't an ideal position, by any means. But the Warriors entering the fourth quarter down 79-70 was a positive. It required some resolve, getting up off the canvas after the Spurs' 38-spot in the second quarter left Golden State wobbly.
San Antonio had gotten up by as much as 16 in the second quarter, when it knocked down 13 of 21 shots, including six 3-pointers. But Golden State, despite missing 15 of its 24 shots in the second quarter, managed to chip away at the lead. By forcing seven turnovers. By hustling in their zone defense to take away open shots, prompting the Spurs to go 0 for 4 from 3-point range in the third. By willing nine fast-break points to squeeze some points out of their struggling offense.
And when Curry nailed a 3-pointer just inside of six minutes, cutting the Warriors' hole to 91-85, there was a feeling Golden State could pull off the unthinkable, its first win in San Antonio since 1997.
The Warriors got as close as four, 92-88, after a Curry free throw with 3:38 left. But the Spurs, and all the other great teams in the league, have what the Warriors don't: a place to go for late-game offense. San Antonio turned to Tim Duncan.
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