SAN ANTONIO -- The Warriors say they aren't into moral victories. But they couldn't have been too upset about Friday's 95-88 loss to the San Antonio Spurs -- even though it was their 28th straight defeat at The Alamo.
Golden State (23-15) has now lost three straight and five of its last six. But Friday's game was a return to the kind of basketball that got it to a season-best 12 games over .500.
"Unfortunately, we were short-handed again," forward David Lee said after totaling 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds. "This kind of loss is a lot easier to handle. ... I thought tonight we matched the Spurs' intensity. And just towards the end of the game, they did what they did best. But I was much happier with the way our team looked."
The Warriors were primed for a blowout. They played their second straight game without star guard Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle). The Spurs were riding a 13-game home win streak. And Golden State had its bell rung last time out in a blowout home loss to Miami.
Instead of getting squashed, as they have so many times by the Spurs, the Warriors put a scare into the hosts.
Their defense held San Antonio to nearly 10 points below its average. The Spurs came into the game shooting 48.9 percent from the field, second-best in the league, but needed to make their last three shots to finish at 45 percent.
Still, in the end, San Antonio had Hall-of-Fame bound big man Tim Duncan and All-Star
"They're a team that does the most difficult things," said Warriors point guard Jarrett Jack, who finished with 20 points and 10 assists. "They don't have peaks and valleys. They just do a tremendous job of not having any drop-off, and that's tough to duplicate. And that's what they do over a span of 48 minutes. But I thought we fought with them. We didn't allow them to impose their will."
The last time the Warriors won in San Antonio was Feb. 14, 1997, when Harrison Barnes was pushing 5 years old.
Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart" topped the Billboard Charts, Clint Eastwood's "Absolute Power" hit theaters, and a federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the military's new "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
"I wasn't here. It's not mine," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said before the game of the losing streak at San Antonio. "It's not the guys' in the locker room. That's the truth. ... That's an incredible number. It's embarrassing."
But while he wasn't claiming the streak, his team was clearly motivated to end it.
The Warriors came out of halftime as if to ward off the inevitable Spurs' third-quarter run to take control of the game. A Jack jumper and a Klay Thompson 3-pointer put the Warriors up 52-46. Moments later, a jumper by Lee had Golden State up seven.
But the Warriors, who shot 42.9 percent for the game, went the next two minutes without a basket and relinquished their lead. The game was tied at 67 when the Spurs put together a run to take control of the game. Parker started it with a floater for a three-point play. And while the Warriors struggled to score -- managing just a Draymond Green jumper over a three-plus minute span -- San Antonio built up a 78-69 lead.
But Jack closed the quarter with back-to-back jumpers to send the Warriors into the fourth with a 78-73 deficit and some hope. Unlike against Miami, and the Los Angeles Clippers before that, Golden State didn't fade.
Having lost five of their last six, the Warriors can only hope that's the start of something.
"I hope so," Jack said. "To a man, when you can be satisfied with the effort you put out. That's all you can ask for. As long as you fight for 48 minutes."
"Can we play half-court?" Jack asked one ref with a smile.
Warriors (23-15) at New Orleans (13-26), 5 p.m., Csnba