It would've taken, as coach Keith Smart said, the Warriors players to max out in order to beat the NBA's best team.
But in Monday's 113-102 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the Warriors had just one player do so. And forward David Lee's season-high 31 points to go with 12 rebounds was hardly enough.
"We had to be playing at a great, high level," Smart said, "for us to have a shot."
The loss to the Spurs doesn't come as a shock. San Antonio (38-7), owner of the league's best record, has beaten the Warriors in 11 straight, five straight at Oracle Arena. All the Warriors can hope now is that the buzz kill against the Spurs doesn't carry over into the next game.
Warriors star guard Monta Ellis needed 26 shots from the floor to get 25 points. Point guard Stephen Curry, who had 66 points in his previous two games, managed just 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting.
On Wednesday, Golden State gets the last team to beat San Antonio, the New Orleans Hornets, whom the Warriors beat on the road earlier this month. And after being schooled by the Spurs, the trick will be for the Warriors to somehow get their momentum back.
"We don't have time to really worry about this game anymore," center Andris Biedrins said. "We have other teams coming in who are a little bit ahead of us, and we really need to win those games. Now it's all about New Orleans."
The Spurs didn't get a dominant performance from anyone, just solid contributions across the board. San Antonio got 18 points and 11 assists from point guard Tony Parker. Manu Ginobili had 20 points, and forward Tim Duncan finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Even the Warriors' bench was slaughtered by the Spurs' reserves, 46-14, led by 14 each from guard George Hill and big man Antonio McDyess.
"I thought we could've contested their shots a little bit more," Smart said. "But those guys are never in a hurry, so they're very patient and they know how to engage a help defender just enough to get a guy open, and they know where everybody is going to be at all times."
After shooting 60.9 percent in the first quarter, the Spurs reduced the Warriors to primarily a jump-shooting team by the end of the third quarter. And Golden State wasn't making them at a high rate.
Of the Warriors' 22 attempts in the third quarter, 17 were outside shots. At one point, they missed seven straight jumpers. It's no wonder Golden State made just 36.4 percent of its shots in the third.
The fourth quarter was more of the same, as San Antonio built its lead as large as 13 and sent the Warriors into the fourth quarter down 90-78.
The Warriors couldn't mount a fourth-quarter comeback Monday, which they did Friday in a victory over Sacramento and Saturday in a loss at the Los Angeles Clippers. Ellis, who has been Mr. Fourth Quarter of late, took just two shots in the final period, missing both, and managed just two points.
"I feel like we match up well with the Spurs," Lee said. "I feel like they're a beatable team, especially in this building. Just the way they execute and the way they take advantage of every little mistake you make, it's like a boring way to play, but it's so effective. "... With that being said, I felt like we had a chance to win. We just didn't have enough to do it."
New Orleans (30-16) at Warriors (19-25), 7:30 p.m., CSNBA
Tough opponents coming to Oracle Arena. Page 2