You could excuse it as something that happens in an intense rivalry. You could rationalize Golden State's performance as the result of a tired team playing its eighth road game in 15 days.

Either are logical explanations for Wednesday's 131-127 loss at Sacramento.

But what if the Warriors' defensive struggles against the Northern California-rival Kings were a precursor for struggles to come?

Wednesday, Golden State's defense was a sieve. The Warriors gave up a season-high in points -- yes, in regulation -- and allowed the Kings to shoot 50 percent. The only other team to do that against the Warriors is Oklahoma City, owners of the NBA's best record.

Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick (7) runs into Golden State Warriors defender Carly Landry (7) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game, Monday,
Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick (7) runs into Golden State Warriors defender Carly Landry (7) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. Landry was called for a blocking foul on the play. (D. Ross Cameron/Staff) (D. ROSS CAMERON)

But perhaps what was most alarming was how Sacramento scored at will. Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins had his way with Carl Landry and David Lee (with centers Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins sprinkled in) leading to 50 points in the paint.

"It's disappointing to allow a team to score 131 points without one of their best players (Tyreke Evans)," coach Mark Jackson said. "You cannot allow teams, individually or collectively, to establish a rhythm early on. It's a tough game to win because guys establish rhythm, they establish confidence, and it's a bad loss for us."

Two concerns arise from the loss to the Kings. One is not new: The Warriors have a hard time defending good big men because Jackson is married to the Landry-Lee pairing.

Golden State has won 10 of its last 13 games. The three losses came to teams with physical big men who can score inside (Orlando twice, Sacramento). That formula jibes with four other Warriors losses: once to Memphis, twice to Denver, once to the Los Angeles Lakers. They all have big men who pound away inside and cause matchup problems, which forces the Warriors to compensate and leave shooters open.

The other concern: Golden State is tiring.

The Warriors' hot start has been predicated on defense and rebounding and energy. For most of 26 games, they have been doing it quite well, so well that they are a contender to make the playoffs. But they have done it with a rotation that is increasingly shrinking as Jackson regularly substitutes for quickness, experience and elbow grease.

Is it getting harder to play the Warriors' new style for 48 minutes? Perhaps that explains why Golden State has failed to deliver its "A" game against losing teams.

"I think we were just a step slow and came out here like we were entitled to something instead of coming out here hungry," guard Klay Thompson said after the loss to the Kings.

Of course, center Andrew Bogut might be the answer to both concerns. But there is no word of his return from microfracture surgery on his left ankle. He hasn't even practiced full-throttle yet, a requirement before his return to game action is even considered.

In the meantime, the Warriors will try to hang on. Golden State will get one more cellar-dweller before the schedule becomes ridiculous. Friday, the Warriors host Charlotte (7-18). The Bobcats don't have the big men to challenge the Warriors inside. But riding a 13-game losing streak, Charlotte figures to be hungry enough to force the Warriors to earn a win.

After that, the degree of difficulty increases. The worst of Golden State's next 11 opponents, recordwise, are the Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers, who each had a .462 winning percentage after Wednesday's games. Eight of those 11 games are against teams with big men who feast on the interior.

Over this next stretch it will be determined if losses to the likes of Sacramento were a fluke or an omen.

"I got a team that understands who we are and what we need to do to win," Jackson said. "We have to be playing Warrior basketball to continue the run we've been on."