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Warriors get blown out by Raptors, drop to 2-4 on crucial homestand

The Golden State Warriors have stepped into two separate extended homestands during the first half of this regular season with a chance to generate some sustained momentum. They’ve failed miserably both times.

The first came in early November. They were an impressive 6-3 after a road-heavy start and returned to Chase Center for six straight games. They lost the first five — to the Cavaliers once, the Timberwolves twice and the Thunder twice — and lost Draymond Green to his first prolonged suspension in the process, spiraling his season and spitting the Warriors back to the road at 7-8.

Through Green’s absence, veteran slumps and rotation upheaval, the Warriors still sat at 15-15 through 30 games and returned to Chase Center for a season-high seven-game homestand after Christmas. Following Sunday night’s 133-114 blowout loss to the Toronto Raptors, they’ve played six of those seven, going 2-4 and dropping their season record to 17-19 as the trade deadline draws to within a month away.

The Toronto game was lost in the first quarter. Coach Steve Kerr went to his 13th different starting lineup this season, experimenting with the Jonathan Kuminga and Andrew Wiggins pairing that has failed so often but still profiles as a tantalizing defensive duo on the wing. He put Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Trayce Jackson-Davis around Wiggins and Kuminga. The Raptors ripped off to a 24-12 lead against that unit.

“We’ve talked about trying to get (Wiggins and Kuminga) together,” Kerr said. “Theoretically our two longest, most athletic players. We have not been a good defensive team this year, so we wanted to try it. It hasn’t connected, really. But we’re experimenting. We’re trying to find a two-way lineup that can help us. But obviously that lineup didn’t click.”

  Jonathan Kuminga knocks the ball away from Scottie Barnes. (Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images)

The Raptors put Scottie Barnes on Curry to open the game. It created a cross-match problem for the Warriors in transition that this new lineup couldn’t solve.

“(Barnes) just ran to the front of the rim over and over again,” Kerr said. “They just basically threw the ball in transition and got a bunch of easy buckets early. I think I took two timeouts in the first five or six minutes and tried to stem the tide. It was ugly.”

Part of the problem, Kerr said, was the lack of communication. The Raptors scored 76 points in the first half and led the Warriors by 27. Kerr flipped his rotation and started Brandin Podziemski, Dario Saric and Kevon Looney in place of Kuminga, Wiggins and Jackson-Davis to open the third quarter.

“I didn’t want to go back to the same lineup,” Kerr said. “The only thing I was interested in in the second half was just competing. What that means — you can say compete, but what does that mean? It means talking on defense. I didn’t hear anything. It was silent in the first half. We needed to have some talk, some chatter. So I went with that lineup because I felt they would give us that.”

That group jumped out to a 17-9 run and the Warriors won the third quarter 38-25, cutting the lead to nine at one point. But Toronto regenerated momentum and eventually cruised to an easy win.

The game flipped back in the Raptors’ direction soon after Wiggins entered the game. He was a minus-29 in his 17 minutes and is now a cumulative minus-150 in 831 minutes this season. So they’ve outscored opponents by 157 with him off the floor and been outscored by 150 with him on the floor. Not many lineup combinations have worked with him.

Wiggins went a quiet 1-of-6 against the Raptors but was far from the Warriors’ lone problem. Curry went 2-of-14 shooting and missed all nine of his 3s, failing to make a shot from deep for the second time in a month after an NBA record of 268 consecutive games with at least one 3.

Moses Moody was one of the few bright spots. With Chris Paul out for an extended period with a fractured left hand, Moody crept back into the rotation and responded with 21 points in 21 minutes, making four 3s and seven of his nine shots. In a rearranged second half, he entered before Wiggins and looked like a greater part of the mix, which is an option moving forward.

But everything seems to remain an option for Kerr and the Warriors because they can’t seem to find any correct answers. Green was back in the building Sunday after his suspension was lifted. He’s likely to miss at least one more game as he cranks up his conditioning, but his return is coming, which means more rotational collateral damage is on the way with no obvious elixir.

“There’s a reason I stayed with that first five (Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, Green, Looney) for 25 games or so,” Kerr said. “It’s really hard to find combinations that click. I felt great coming into the season. That lineup was the best lineup in the league the last two years. Then coming off the bench with Chris, Dario and some of our younger players. It looked on paper that was the way we’d go. Once we went away from that group — which we had to because of suspension, injuries and poor play — we’ve been in search mode ever since. We’re still searching.”

(Top photo: Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images)