OAKLAND, Calif. -- Perhaps it's time to push the panic button.
The Golden State Warriors lost 103-93 to the Milwaukee Bucks at Oracle Arena on Saturday, losing for the second night in a row and falling to 2-2 on their seven-game homestand.
Golden State missed a prime opportunity to move ahead in the Western Conference standings as 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 2 1/2 games ahead of Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Warriors played Saturday without forward David Lee, who sat out with a bruised right knee. His replacement, Carl Landry, filled in with 18 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes.
But the Warriors' guards struggled mightily on offense, losing their showdown with Milwaukee's potent backcourt. Golden State's duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson totaled 34 points on 14-of-35 shooting. Curry had 10 assists to go with his 16 points, but two of his four turnovers proved critical down the stretch.
Conversely, the Bucks' Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings exploded for 57 points on 20-of-35 shooting. Ellis had five assists and five rebounds in 36 minutes. Jennings added 10 assists in 43 minutes.
The home team found itself down 80-70 after Mike Dunleavy, a former Warrior who was booed by Golden State fans, drilled a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter.
But with the fans spurring them on, the Warriors ran off a 6-0 run, getting layups from Thompson and Curry and a pull-up jumper from guard Jarrett Jack.
A minute later, Ellis put the Bucks back up by seven with a driving finger roll.
The Bucks' lead was down to 83-80 after a turnaround jumper by Landry and a floater from Curry. Oracle went up another decibel, but Jennings silenced the crowd with his sixth 3-pointer of the night.
The Warriors cut the lead to a point twice over the next three 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. After a stop, Jack missed an easy runner -- and also missed Curry, who was wide open. Bucks guard J.J. Redick followed with a tear drop 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 Andrew Bogut was called for setting 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.
--Lee said the hope is that two days of rest will heal the sizable bruise on his right knee. Lee said playing on the knee would leave him at less than 100 percent for the next several games.
"He's a guy who loves to be on the floor," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said before the game. "He just stays in the lineup. When he's not on the floor, you know something's bothering him. When he doesn't play, he's hurt."
Lee is expected to return Monday against the visiting New York Knicks.
Lee suffered the injury Friday night when Houston Rockets forward Thomas Robinson's knee hit Lee's on a drive to the basket. Lee said he was "shocked" he was able to play at all in the second half. He could barely plant on his right foot but said he knew the Warriors needed the game against Houston.
The Rockets won 94-88.
Lee woke up to soreness, pain and swelling. He still has limited mobility, so the doctors decided to rest him.
--The Warriors have the Western Conference standings posted in the practice facility. So you know they see the dwindling cushion they have.
How can they keep their loose atmosphere with Houston right on their tails? How do they prevent such a young roster from losing confidence when seeing how far Golden State is now behind the top teams it formerly rubbed elbows with?
Still, Golden State is clinging to the favor of the schedule. The Warriors still have 13 of the last 19 at home.
"You don't want to look back," Jackson said. "Bottom line is that we have put ourselves in position to have our destiny in our hands. If we continue to win ballgames, get back to where we were, we're going to be fine. I bet you those teams (behind us) would love to be where we are now."
--Forward Malcolm Thomas, done with his season with Maccabi Tel Aviv, was back in San Diego for weeks. He said he wasn't even playing basketball.
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.
"Not to me, not at all," said Thomas, who went undrafted out of San Diego State in 2011. "I felt like I could have done a lot more. I didn't even really know all the plays or anything. I was just playing."
Thomas didn't play against Houston on Day 1 of his contract but played three minutes against Milwaukee, grabbing two rebounds.
He's already liking it with Golden State, which signed Thomas for his athleticism and defensive skills. He said it is more laid back than in San Antonio, where he was called up last season and played three games.
-- 2013, The Oakland Tribune (Oakland, Calif.).
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