SAN ANTONIO -- The last month or so has been rough on the Warriors, as any hopes of a playoff run faded into NBA oblivion. That doesn't mean there isn't anything to play for with a little less than a month left.
The Warriors do have four more wins than all of last season despite having lost the last five and 12 of 16 after Monday night's 111-96 setback to the San Antonio Spurs. There are 11 games remaining, and the Warriors are determined to make use of every one.
"We're a very young team and we're a team where a lot of those young components are going to be back for years to come, so we have a lot to prove still," forward David Lee said. "We have a lot to play for. We need to keep our concentration and our same work ethic to the end of the season.
"In the years to come, these games are going to be the ones where we're improving our playoff seed and hopefully moving in the right direction towards a big playoff run. It's important that we get used to finishing the season in the right way and continuing to get better."
The Warriors ran into a team Monday gearing up for its own postseason marathon, and the Spurs didn't pull any punches. San Antonio (57-13) nearly delivered a knockout in the first quarter, racing out to an 18-point lead even after losing Tim Duncan to a sprained ankle less than five minutes into the game.
But much like the previous night in a 101-73 loss at Dallas, the Warriors absorbed an initial rush and made it a game again. Lee, rookie Ekpe Udoh and backup point guard Acie Law led the first charge against the Duncan-less San Antonio defense and closed the gap to five in the second quarter.
"We can score the ball pretty good," said Law, one of six Warriors in double figures with 14 points off the bench. "We just have to figure it out defensively."
Battling back has been a Warriors trait most of the season, even over the last month or so. They did it Monday, with Udoh (15 points and seven rebounds), Dorell Wright (14 points) and Al Thornton (10 points) among those stepping up.
"One thing this team has shown is that they create a great reputation of how they will compete," Warriors coach Keith Smart said.
The Spurs systematically began to pull away in the third quarter behind the 3-point shot, and the lead reached 20 early in the fourth. The Warriors didn't quit on the second night of a back-to-back, and one last charge trimmed San Antonio's edge to 93-86 midway through the fourth.
The Spurs answered with a 7-0 run and were forced to stay with their regulars much longer than coach Gregg Popovich might have wanted to secure the win. San Antonio did hold on, and has won the last 12 against the Warriors and 25 straight against Golden State in south Texas.
Most of these Warriors haven't been around for most of the losing streak against the Spurs. And though the roster is sprinkled with veterans, the length of the NBA season is still an adjustment for several key players. Udoh is going through the 82-game grind for the first time. Stephen Curry is only in his second year.
"The team as a whole hasn't experienced that, so that's where you want to develop (being together for an entire season) so the team can move forward," Smart said. "And now when we get to this point next year, they know what to feel."
Until then, finishing off this campaign strong is all the Warriors can do. Lee, for one, expects just that.
"Attitude and effort right now is not the question," said Lee, who had 13 points and nine rebounds. "We're playing a little bit short-handed right now, especially on the road against teams like San Antonio and Dallas. Not to say we're not capable of winning those games, but we are a little undermanned compared to those teams at this point."
Chicago went 2-1 on the Texas three-step in November. The Warriors last did it in 2002 and went 1-2.
Warriors (30-41) at Houston (37-34), 5:30 p.m., CSNBA