For Warriors, inconsistency, frustration, lessons not yet learned


OAKLAND, Calif. — It is a familiar script, one Golden State Warriors fans could do without. Playing on their home floor in one of the NBA's loudest buildings, the Warriors will have some patsy or other in town and, despite a newfound talent level that should have them among the league's elite, they let a win get away.

On Thursday at Oracle Arena, it was the injury-ravaged Denver Nuggets, suiting up nine players and trotting out a starting five that included Aaron Brooks and Quincy Miller.

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The Warriors quickly built a 20-point lead and only needed to salt away the game. Instead, they began drifting, losing focus and allowing the Nuggets back in.

And, with a chance to clinch to postseason spot on the line, the Warriors lost 100-99.

"Very frustrating, especially when we are in a position to clinch, to drop this one at home, it's very frustrating," forward Draymond Green said.

Add the Nuggets to a list of home duds the Warriors have had:

— Blew an 18-point lead to Cleveland on March 14

— Got drubbed 91-75 by Charlotte on Feb. 4

— Blew a 10-point lead to the Wizards on Jan. 28

— Lost a seven-point fourth-quarter lead to Minnesota on Jan. 24

— Fell to the Nuggets on Jan. 15.

Win half of those games, and the Warriors would be in position to battle the Houston Rockets for home court in the first round. But as things stand, they have not secured a playoff berth. And the playoffs begin April 19.

"That's what separates us now from the top of the West," guard Stephen Curry said. "We feel like we're as good as those guys and we are going to be a threat in the playoffs. That's the kind of confidence we have in this group. But we got to take care of these games. It is on us as players to change that. We understand the moment, we understand what's at stake in these last five, and for us to not get it done is, it's on us."

Is that a big concern? The Warriors' inability to get it done on a consistent basis against bad teams on their home floor is an open question. You don't play teams like Denver and Cleveland or even Washington and Charlotte in the West playoffs — the Warriors will be underdogs every step of the way in the postseason, and won't have much cause to lose focus like they so often seem to do.

At the same time, the Warriors do seem to have a problem with their killer instinct. They have a nasty habit of building a lead, squandering it and needing to win late in the game with a clutch shot (usually from Curry, who nearly rescued Golden State on Thursday). The Warriors are 11-7 in games decided by three points or fewer, the second-most games decide

d by so thin a margin in the league.

"I won't say we don't have (a killer instinct) — I didn't say that," coach Mark Jackson said. "We just didn't put them away when we could have. There's nights when we do. Tonight we did not. ... We've got to be better, there's no doubt about it. We've got to be better at taking care of business and closing out possessions and putting teams away. Can't hide from that."

Jackson has also repeatedly tried to stamp this season as a successful one based on the team's record, saying last night: "I won't say the consistency has been lacking. We are 18 games over .500."

But yet there is a disappointing quality to this season, because this team came in expecting to be a contender after the sign-and-trade deal that brought in guard Andre Iguodala last summer.

WATCH: Iguodala's sick move against Quincy Miller

Instead, the Warriors are probably stuck at No. 6 in the West, facing a challenge in their first-round postseason series. And there's a sense that they have no one to blame but themselves for winnable games they've kicked away.

"Gotta learn these lessons," Curry said. "Simple as that. Can't take off possessions or take off quarters and expect to just turn it on when you need it. For us to close out these four games and win a playoff series, we are going to need every ounce of effort, energy, focus and execution going forward."

It was suggested to Curry that the Warriors are not such a young team anymore, that they've got enough veterans to already have learned these lessons.

"You would think so," Curry said.

Playoffs start next week. They'll soon find out.