Highlights: Curry's return not enough against Grizzlies
The Warriors were 2-2 on their four-game road trip, losing consecutive games on Saturday for the first time this season. (USATSI)
Though the Warriors return to Oakland having lost two consecutive games to split a four-game road trip, there is sound reason to believe they'll be better for the experience.
They lost to a pair of teams, San Antonio and Memphis, with fairly established playing rotations, something the Warriors still are seeking to stabilize.
[Instant Replay: Warriors drop second straight to Grizzlies]
They gained a fully healthy Harrison Barnes. The small forward, who missed the first four games of the season with inflammation in his left foot, returned for the last three games and looks relatively rust-free.
And they also survived a Stephen Curry ankle scare. The point guard missed only one game after sustaining a bone bruise Wednesday night at Minnesota, returning to lead the Warriors in scoring in their 108-90 loss at Memphis on Saturday.
All these factors suggest the Warriors are continuing to evolve, that December should hold more promise than November and that January should be more impressive than December.
Not that any of that salved the wounds from a road trip that started with wins at Philadelphia and Minnesota before going south the last two games.
"We're certainly disappointed with the way we ended this road trip,'' coach Mark Jackson said in his postgame news conference at the FedEx Forum. "Now it's about going back home, getting some rest and then preparing to get back to who we truly are.''
The Warriors are, if the first seven games are any indication, a high-octane offensive team that is willing and able to defend. Center Andrew Bogut has asserted himself in the middle of the defense. Klay Thompson, usually fabulous when he's fully engaged, continues to improve. David Lee is as usual, at his best with a 10-pound chip on his shoulder. Curry, streakier than usual and still prone to the hideous turnover, remains the best barometer of the team. It's too soon to get a read on Barnes, but it's apparent that Andre Iguodala can treat a variety of ills.
All of this has been visible at certain times, even during the road trip, which only feeds the frustration with which the team flew home from Tennessee.
Thompson described the road trip as "so-so,'' and Iguodala left Memphis lamenting what might have been.
"We won the first two, which we should have,'' he said. "(Friday night) we didn't play well. (Saturday night) we should have gotten this game as well.''
Jackson said he was disappointed, particularly with the poor finishing effort on Saturday. The Warriors started well enough, outshooting and outrebounding the Grizzlies in the first quarter, but were beaten in every way from then on.
"It's easy to make the excuse that we played (Friday night),'' Jackson said. "But that's not an excuse. We didn't execute. They were the more physical team and it's just a disappointing loss for us.''
The Warriors will get over this game and this trip before Tuesday, when they play the first of the 75 games remaining on the schedule.
Iguodala was the star of the road trip. He shot particularly well and played solidly at both ends, aside from the six-turnover debacle against the Spurs.
The bench, which showed so nicely in Minnesota, with Barnes and Marreese Speights leading the way, returned to unwelcome form against Memphis. Any minute now, backup center Jermaine O'Neal is going to ask for a microscope in hopes of finding some offense.
Rest on Sunday, practice on Monday and play host to the Pistons on Tuesday at Oracle Arena. Detroit presents a big, active front line – Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Josh Smith – but will be playing its second game in two nights. The Pistons are in Portland on Monday night.