CHICAGO — Uh-oh. The Warriors have lost two games in a row, an awful, horrible slump the likes of which they haven’t seen in 23 months. Time to panic, people.
OK, life without Kevin Durant wasn’t that dire on Thursday night even if coach Steve Kerr did break a clipboard in a fit of anger. The Warriors lost a winnable game against a beatable Chicago Bulls team, 94-87, but the damage was mostly self-inflicted. The absence of K.D. didn’t help — d’oh! — but that was somewhere down the blame list.
“Obviously, we know what [Durant] brings to the table,” Stephen Curry said after a 10-of-27, 23-point performance. “We have an identity on how we play. We just didn’t move the ball, really. With or without him, I don’t know how that would have been affected.”
The Warriors missed all kinds of shots, that’s all. Layups, gimmes in the paint, open 3-pointers — you name it. At least a half-dozen rimmed out.
Who says ball don’t lie?
“It’s just life. Sometimes the ball doesn’t go in,” shrugged Klay Thompson, who scored 13 points and somehow shot 1 of 11 from beyond the arc. “For me, the shots felt great.”
If championship-caliber teams thrive on challenges, then the Warriors certainly face one now. No team is as good without its best player, and Durant was a legit Most Valuable Player candidate before he sprained his left MCL. He will be missed at both ends.
Worse yet, the Warriors are in the midst of a difficult part of their schedule — eight games, eight cities, 13 days.
“Sure, we’ve got a big challenge without K.D. and the [San Antonio] Spurs breathing down our necks,” a weather-beaten Kerr told Balls in a raspy voice. “Yeah, we’ve got a lot ahead of us.”
The margin for error has diminished greatly. The Warriors have enough savvy, depth and star power to survive the next few weeks, but the situation calls for greater urgency. They had little if any of that in the decisive third period, when Kerr blew a gasket on the bench.
“What upset me was the third quarter and a lack of intensity and focus, not chasing down loose balls,” Kerr said. “When you’re not making shots on every possession, the ball is gold.”
Every championship team encounters turbulence along the way, and the Warriors have hit a rough patch no doubt. Let’s see how they handle it.
REST OF THE STORY: The Warriors lost consecutive starts for the first time since April, 2015, a span of 147 games. It’s another one of their crazy records that we’ll ask years from now, “They really did that, too?”
BAD BOYS 2: Never mind Durant and his bum leg. What’s scary is that Matt Barnes and Draymond Green are teammates.
“I’m here to be a small part of something big,” Barnes announced at the team shootaround, only hours after he signed a free-agent contract.
The problem is, Barnes has never been a small distraction wherever he has been. The guy talks more trash than Oscar the Grouch. He’s the first to dive into a pile or get in someone’s grill, a $25,000 fine waiting to happen.
Barnes provides insurance at small forward. Better yet, he gives the team an enforcer off the bench. For a group that plays too nice, that can be a good thing. But what if any effect will he have on Green, who doesn’t need any more motivation to go nutso?
Maybe Barnes will realize that, at a few days shy of 37, this is his final chance for some championship bling. Maybe he’ll pick his spots wisely. Balls just won’t bet on it.
KINDEST CUT OF ALL: Veteran guard Jose Calderon was with the team for two hours when it learned that Durant would be sidelined for at least four weeks. That prompted the front office to waive Calderon and sign Barnes instead.
As a parting gift, Calderon received his full $415,000 prorated salary and two uniforms, which tells you why Joe Lacob is on the short list of best team owners in professional sports.
LIKE OLD TIMES: Eighteen years after Michael Jordan was forced to leave, Chicago still isn’t the same. So it was kinda nice to see the Warriors wake up this sleepy basketball town again. Strange to see every seat at the United Center filled, too.
About an hour before the game, several hundred fans watched in slack-jawed amazement while Curry made the rounds. His shot wasn’t its usual drop-dead self but drew oohs and aahs just the same.
Heck, even Zaza Pachula got some love from fans who probably thought he was Luc Longley.
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