OAKLAND -- The stakes are higher. The bar has been raised. The pressure is mounting. And the Warriors seem to be wilting.
The latest evidence: a 103-93 loss Saturday to the Milwaukee Bucks at Oracle Arena. It was the Warriors' second straight home loss, a defeat that has many a fan stomping on the panic button.
"We haven't been putting out the performances necessary for us to be successful," Warriors backup guard Jarrett Jack said. "Obviously, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Rotations are shorter. Guys are healthy. Guys are in shape.
"Teams are starting to hit their stride, and either they're playing to push into the playoffs or playing for playoff position. We've got to understand that teams are better and we've got to raise our level accordingly."
Golden State (35-29) is now 2-2 on the seven-game homestand and missed a prime opportunity to move ahead in the Western Conference standings as both Houston and Utah, two teams trailing the Warriors, lost on the road Saturday.
The Warriors sit a game ahead of the Rockets for the No. 6 seed and are 21/2 games ahead of No. 8 Utah.
While it's Golden State's second straight loss, it's the Warriors' fourth consecutive subpar performance, as they escaped with wins over Toronto and Sacramento to start the homestand.
Yes, the Warriors played Saturday without forward David Lee, who sat out with a bruised right knee. But it was still a winnable game if only the Warriors had, well, won it.
Instead, it was Milwaukee that made seemingly every necessary play. It was the Bucks, led by the backcourt of Brandon Jennings and former Warrior Monta Ellis, who played with a refuse-to-lose edge.
The Bucks duo combined for 57 points on 20-of-35 shooting. Ellis had five assists and five rebounds in 36 minutes and received multiple ovations in his second game at Oracle since being traded to Milwaukee for center Andrew Bogut.
Milwaukee scored 56 points on 51.3 percent shooting in the second half, making 9 of 17 from 3-point range.
The Warriors, meanwhile, struggled to find a consistent, reliable place to score. Their two biggest offensive weapons, guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, combined to miss 21 of their 35 shots. Jack, usually reliable for offense off the bench, had 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
Carl Landry, who started in place of Lee, had it rolling much of the night, finishing with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds. But he was relegated to just 28 minutes, and four second-half shots, as coach Mark Jackson adjusted to Milwaukee's small lineup.
The Warriors managed just 10 points over the final 6 minutes, 55 seconds, taking seven straight jumpers at one point. Three turnovers in a three-minute stretch, two at half-court by Curry, certainly didn't help.
"We're just not showing up right now," Curry said after totaling 16 points, 10 assists and four turnovers. "We're not playing consistent basketball. ... On our home court, we feel like we can beat any team in the league. That's our expectation."
The Warriors, who trailed by as much as 10 in the fourth, had the deficit down to a point twice in the final six minutes. But each time, they tripped over themselves in attempts to take the lead.
Thompson scored five straight points to cut the lead to 86-85 with 5:39 left. After a stop, Jack missed an easy runner -- and a wide-open Curry. Bucks guard J.J. Redick followed with a teardrop off the glass.
A jumper by Landry made it 88-87 with four minutes left. But back-to-back Warriors turnovers (Curry dribbled it out of bounds, and Bogut set an illegal screen) fueled an 8-0 run by Milwaukee. Redick capped the run with back-to-back rainbow 3-pointers, putting the Warriors down 96-87 with four minutes left.
A Curry 3-pointer at the 2:02 mark cut Golden State's hole to 96-90. But Jennings answered with a pull-up jumper. Curry committed his fourth turnover with 1:10 left, leading to two free throws that all but sealed the defeat.
"We have to take care of the basketball," Jackson said. "We are more than capable of doing that, and it's hurt us. If you keep doing what you have been doing, you are going to keep getting what you have been getting. I believe in my guys. We'll be fine. But we have to respond. We did not tonight."
Lee suffered the injury Friday night when Houston Rockets forward Thomas Robinson's knee hit Lee's on a drive to the basket.
Lee woke up to soreness, pain and swelling. He still has limited mobility, so the doctors decided to rest him.
He wound up signing with the L.A. D-Fenders of the NBA Development League. After one game, he got signed by the Warriors to a 10-day contract. That was a surprise to Thomas. He didn't think his performance in that one game -- 13 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block in 41 minutes -- was that impressive.
"I felt like I could have done a lot more," Thomas said.
Thomas didn't play against Houston on Day 1 of his contract but played three minutes against Milwaukee, grabbing two rebounds.