The tough, tenacious defense the Warriors have lacked for so many losing years finally appears to be there in genuine spades.
But Golden State is selling out and succeeding on defense for a change, the Warriors are falling short on offense, at least at the worst possible times.
The Warriors seriously took one in the gut Saturday at Oracle Arena, losing 88-87 to the Utah Jazz when Monta Ellis' runner in the lane hit iron instead of net as time expired.
Golden State really could have used that one to drop, because despite so many good things happening on the court on the defensive end, things just aren't adding up on the scoreboard, or the win column. This latest heartbreaker was the Warriors' fifth straight loss after such a promising start.
Ellis could hardly be faulted. He had another monster game -- 32 points, including 16 of 17 from the free-throw line -- and made two big shots to give the Warriors an 85-81 lead heading into the final three minutes.
Even his final shot was something of a bad break. With Utah's Earl Watson draped all over him, Ellis nonetheless forced his way to a good look, but it had too much carom off the backboard as he drove hard to the basket.
"I guarantee if he had 10 more times to shoot that, he'd make 9 out of 10," Nate Robinson said.
"It was a great shot, one I'll take any day," he said. "I just didn't knock it down."
The Warriors really could have used it to go down, for a lot of reasons. They now have a significant string of losses to ponder with Miami and Orlando coming to town. Stephen Curry looks like he'll miss at least another week. Andris Biedrins has missed two straight games with an ankle/toe sprain and his status is uncertain. And Dorell Wright is still in his confounding offensive slump. Wright scored just three points after looking like he might break out in Los Angeles on Friday, none in the second half.
More than anything, though, the Warriors have played a number of games where they were right on the cusp of doing something special, only to fritter away some potential big wins.
"We're 2-6 but we could easily be 4-4 or better," David Lee said. "It's just a lot of little things adding up against us."
Coach Mark Jackson flatly said the Warriors are still making too many mistakes to get over the hump. In this game, he pointed out, players didn't close out possessions defensively in key moments, allowed too many second-shot opportunities and didn't take care of the basketball. He didn't think it was a lack of offense.
"You turn the basketball over 17 times, to me that's at least two points per possession," he said. "Add that on to 87, and I think that's a heck of an offensive output."
Gordon Hayward, whose free throw with 11 seconds left gave Utah a one-point lead, led Utah with 18 points.
"He hasn't made shots, for whatever reason," the coach said. "As a player, when it comes down to it, it's a make-or-miss league. But I'm a coach who believes in him. In spite of him not making shots, his minutes have not been affected."
They were in this latest game. Brandon Rush played the entire fourth quarter in place of Wright and scored 14 points.