PHOENIX — Over the past 10 years, the Golden State Warriors have built a dynasty on open play, competitiveness and a sense of togetherness that could rarely be shaken.
Yet, just 15 games into this season, everything seems to be falling apart.
On Wednesday, the Warriors suffered their latest blow, a 130-119 loss to the Phoenix Suns that dropped them to 0-8 en route to starting a season for the first time since 1989-90, when they started 0-9. Their skid also now stands as the longest road losing streak by a defending champion since the 1998-99 Chicago Bulls, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“Forget the road record, we can’t find a successful sustainable period where habits start to form and we’re in a position where we walk out of the field feeling good about ourselves,” said Stephen Curry, who published his 11th career 50-point game to tie Allen Iverson for ninth all-time
The word “scattered” was used multiple times during the Warriors’ postgame press conference to describe the state of the team, alluding to the lack of connectivity and buy-in from every member of the squad.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said the team isn’t on the same page about the win concern.
“It’s a pick game out there,” Kerr said, “there’s no running at either end, no certain commitment to the pack to get three straight stops to run offense.”
Kerr wanted to shoulder most of the burden, saying he has “failed” to bring his team together and give them something they can “collectively aim for.”
But Curry also tried to take some of the responsibility as a team leader.
“I’m scoring great, trying to be efficient and I’ll continue to do that,” said Curry. “But there’s a kind of collective mindset about how I have to help everyone get into the right frame of mind to try and win and I’m up for the challenge of figuring that out.”
However, it’s hard to point fingers at Curry. He led his team in the first part of the season.
The eight-time All-Star hit 17-of-28 shooting, going 7-of-11 from 3-point range, to become the eighth-oldest player at the time of his 50-point game, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. However, the Warriors still lost by 11. Of Curry’s 11 career 50-point games, this is only the third time Golden State has lost. This is the first double-digit loss when he has scored at least 40.
Through the Warriors’ first 15 games of the season, Curry did everything he could to give them a chance to win, averaging 32.8 points on 53-45-93 shooting. Curry is the only player to average 30 points on 50-40-90 shooting in a season, doing so in 2015-16 when he won MVP honors by consensus.
Still, Golden State sits in 12th place in the Western Conference with a 6-9 record.
Curry scored nearly half of Golden State’s points on Wednesday, with his other nine active players combining for 69 points. The Warriors bench scored just 17.
Klay Thompson’s early season struggles continued as he finished with 19 points but shooting just 6-for-17. Meanwhile, Jordan Poole went scoreless on the back of his best game of the season.
The Warriors’ lack of cohesion shows up primarily on the defensive end, which in turn has also prevented them from finding offensive rhythm.
They rank 27th in defensive efficiency this season after being ranked second a season ago, and Golden State is allowing 12.8 more points per game this season than last season.
Against the Suns, the Warriors gave up at least 125 points for the sixth time this season — the most in 15 games in a season since 1982-83 — and 70 points in the first half for the fourth time. One of those other times was also against Phoenix in late October.
“We lack collective grit. We’re playing a Drew League game right now,” Kerr said.
“I’ve always felt that the game rewards you if you put in the game. If you really compete together, shots go in, calls go your way, breaks fall your way, and we’re not earning any of that. That’s why we’re without victories on the road. It’s a shooting game.”
Ahead of Monday’s game against San Antonio, Kerr said the Warriors are still trying to find the momentum that comes when the team is connected both on and off the field. After the loss in Phoenix, he said the group lacked the ability to “put everything in [off-court] stuff in the backseat and commit to winning the game”.
The Warriors insist they are not panicking. But they also understand that they are not doing themselves any favors and every opponent they face is poised to win against the team that has devastated the league for the past decade.
“It’s a struggle right now, keeping it real,” Curry said. “We have to understand that it will be really difficult to get out of the situation we are in because there are many problems.”