The Warriors thought their key to a prosperous season was consistent care and effort on the defensive end after giving up 121 to the Timberwolves. On Tuesday night they were taught something new during their 88-85 loss to the Wizards.

“Just because we’re at home, we’re not just going to win games automatically,” said Stephen Curry, who the Wizards held to 23 points on 8-of-23 shooting.

“Obviously we didn’t learn that lesson quick enough.”

The Warriors held Washington to 37.8% shooting, but Golden State only made 37.5% of their field goal attempts and Washington shot better as a team from the three-point line. John Wall took his game-winning shot from behind the arc, as he torched Golden State for the second time at the end of a half. He blew past Harrison Barnes for a layup to end the second quarter.

That layup cut what was a 10-point lead for the Warriors to four, and the Wizards used the third quarter to continue a 20-2 run. Golden State won their first matchup with the Wizards with a 30-5 run in the third quarter, something that concerned Andrew Bogut going into Tuesday night’s game.

“We didn’t play particularly well there either. We had a good six or seven minutes that blew the game wide open,” said Bogut. “I said it this morning, they’re going to remember that and come in here and try to get the win. And they did.”

This game featured a role reversal of sorts, with the starters playing poorly and the bench keeping them in the contest. Bogut went 2-for-3 from the field, and the other four starters made only 17-of-57 shots. Every starter had at least two turnovers, with Curry giving the ball away six times.

“It was just a bad performance and really disappointing,” Curry said. “But we’ve got to keep our head up.”

The Warriors are now 13-8 at home, and their only victories at Oracle Arena so far in 2014 were a two-point win over the lowly Celtics and Sunday’s victory over a tired Blazers squad. Mark Jackson didn’t blame Warriors fans for selling out the place and creating one of the best atmospheres in the NBA, but he noted how the home court advantage can swing both ways.

“The Washington Wizards, at home, they’re not playing in front of 20,000 people. When teams come into this building they are playing in front of 20,000 people, going crazy, supportive. There’s bright lights, and they’re ready to play. When you give teams life, you will have to deal with them. Too many times we find ourselves forced to win ballgames when we should’ve won them 20 minutes earlier,” said Jackson.

“Let’s stop reading the press clippings and find a way to go out there and get it done.”

Lessons are starting to pile up for the Warriors.

  • They need to play defense.
  • They can’t assume wins will come easy at home against anybody.
  • Their offense isn’t anything special when they aren’t hitting shots.
  • They don’t hit shots unless the ball keeps moving.

But there’s another recurring theme.

“At times we play to the level of the competition on paper,” said Andre Iguodala after Friday’s loss to Minnesota.

“We are a team that if a championship caliber team comes in here or an elite team comes in here, we play at that level. If a bad team or average team comes in, we play at that level. We are not good enough to allow who comes in here to determine how hard we play,” said Jackson after Tuesday night’s loss.

The Wizards’ win pushed their record to .500, good enough to put them in a tie for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Warriors are now 27-19, which means they’re now the seventh seed in the Western Conference. They’re just 2.5 games ahead of the Grizzlies, who are currently ninth but have won eight of their last ten.

Golden State had a supposedly secret but much-alluded to goal before the season. That goal was to win at least 50 games, and now they’re on pace for 48. If they can’t be expected to win home games against middle-of-the-road teams in the East, expecting 48 is probably a stretch at this point.

“I don’t think we’re in the position where most people said we are, where we can mark on the calendar who we’re going to beat,” said Bogut.

“We’ve got to build this thing the right way. You can’t go from one playoff appearance in how many years to all of the sudden trying to win a championship the next year. It’s a process, and we can’t just click our fingers and expect to go win a ring right now.”

Dub Steps

– The Warriors’ last play was pretty sad, as Trevor Ariza hounded Curry into a desperation lefty hook/scoop three that didn’t draw iron.

– Harrison Barnes was the first person off the bench, and he made his first shot. He also had three assists. But he’s not much on defense, and didn’t grab a rebound in over 22 minutes.

– Draymond Green spent a little time at center, and it worked for the Warriors. He only played 17 minutes, which caused a chorus of “more play for Dray in the Bay” throughout the region. Or not, but people are starting to get restless with Green getting fewer minutes than Barnes.

– Marreese Speights played fairly well for the most part — seven points and nine rebounds in 14 minutes isn’t bad. Again, despite what I wrote earlier about Barnes, the bench as a whole (including Jordan Crawford) can’t be blamed for this loss.

– David Lee didn’t just go 2-for-10 (Lee and Thompson are 19-for-64 combined over their last two games), he also grabbed just five rebounds and looked awfully hesitant to go after a couple loose balls that were within range. Lee has been getting anti-inflammatory injections for his shoulder lately, and at this rate rest might be the best cure.

– Just to make you feel better (I mean worse, much worse) about losing to the Wiz, here’s a little “Ric-rolling” from Mr. Bucher (via Bay Area Intern):