OKLAHOMA CITY -- Perhaps it was a good thing the Warriors started one of their roughest stretches of the season against arguably the best team in the league. Getting blown out by the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-87 on Friday might be the message the hot-and-cold Warriors needed.
"It's a wake-up call for how we need to play in games," point guard Stephen Curry said. "We understand the situation. It's not like we're going through the motions, not knowing how important each night is. We're creeping backwards now from the playoff chase."
It won't help matters if guard Monta Ellis isn't at full strength. He hyperextended his right knee and left the game with 17 second left in the third quarter and didn't return.
A Warriors spokesman said Ellis could have re-entered the game but that coach Mark Jackson decided against it. Ellis, who didn't address the media, wasn't limping in the locker room.
Health notwithstanding, the thumping at the hands of the Thunder might turn out to be the first in several road beat downs. Golden State (11-16) has lost two straight. Saturday at Memphis is the second of three straight games against teams currently in the top eight of the Western Conference.
Oklahoma City (23-7) marked the first of a stretch in which the Warriors play eight of nine on the road. Six of those nine games are against winning teams. The last four of that stretch are played over six days.
If the Warriors are to turn around
Thunder sixth man James Harden scored 15 of his 25 points in the second quarter. He scored eight during a 20-9 Oklahoma City run that turned the Warriors' 30-24 lead into a 44-39 hole.
The Warriors gave up 37 second-quarter points in Wednesday's home loss to a short-handed and fatigued Portland squad.
"Second straight game the second quarter hurt us," Jackson said.
The Warriors trailed 58-48 at the half after shooting 38.8 percent. But instead of turning it around in the third, things got worse.
Golden State made just 4 of 20 from the field in the third quarter and turned it over five times. The Warriors went more than three minutes without a point and nearly seven minutes without a field goal.
Backup guard Nate Robinson ended that drought with a driving layup, and the Warriors trailed 76-65 with 3:04 left. If they closed the quarter well, they're still in the game and have a chance to steal it.
Didn't happen. Robinson's layup supplied Golden State's last points of the quarter. Oklahoma City closed the third with an 8-0 run to put the game away. Golden State finished at 34.8 percent from the field -- and that's with forward David Lee totaling 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting.
"We're going to have to play harder, smarter, and we're going to have to make shots," Jackson said. "We have to play Warriors basketball. We've got to be consistent for 48 minutes, especially on the road."
"It helps when we're both scoring and shooting the ball and playing at a high level," Curry said. "But we didn't have it tonight. It's on us to play better."
Neither had a noted impact on the game, leaving Lee to carry the offensive load for the third straight game. Wednesday against Portland, Ellis and Curry totaled 18 points. In Monday's win over Phoenix, they combined for 27 points on 8-for-30 shooting.
"I don't worry about them making shots," Lee said. "Monta and Stephen are both great players. They are both going to do just fine for us. They were just a couple of off games for both guys.
"Monta has been a little sick, and Steph has had just a couple off ones. I'm sure they'll play great tomorrow night. They will both have 30, and we will be talking about how good they are. I have faith in those guys."
After the game, Thompson's right shin was badly swollen. He suffered the injury late in the fourth quarter on a charging call. He limped out of the game with 16.5 seconds left. Thompson said it won't keep him out against Memphis.
"It doesn't hurt," Thompson said.
What probably hurts more? Being left out of the Rising Stars Challenge -- again.
Several Warriors were shocked when Thompson was left out of the initial pool of 18 selected earlier this month. But, taking advantage of Lin-sanity, the NBA added New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin to the exhibition, an annual All-Star weekend event showcasing some of the league's young talents.
And Thompson was overlooked again when Miami rookie guard Norris Cole was added with Lin to make 20 eligible players.
"I don't know what to say to that," second-year Warriors big man Ekpe Udoh said.