LOS ANGELES -- Golden State Warriorscoach Steve Kerr wouldn't call Monday's Game 4 against the Los Angeles Lakersa must-win. He said as long as the Warriors weren't on the brink of elimination, nothing was absolute.
But Golden State forwardKevon Looney acknowledged just how big a hole it is to climb back from a 3-1 series deficit. He and the Warriors know from personal experience.
Yet, the Warriors fell to the Lakers 104-101 in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, putting them right where Kerr was talking about -- on the brink of elimination.
"It feels like what it is," Kerr said. "You go home and you take care of business. You get a win. And the momentum is right back in your favor. That's all it is. Someone has to win four times. That's why you play it out."
Golden State is 1-14 all time in series after trailing 3-1. Their lone comeback was in the 2016 Western Conference finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. They squandered their own 3-1 advantage in the next round against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
"We made history before. The goal is to win one at home. We know we are capable of taking care of home court. It's about staying present and not looking ahead," Warriors guardKlay Thompson said.
"It's fun to reflect on the past and learn from it and take that same competitive energy that brought us back in the past to today."
But the team Thompson was reflecting on was a different team than it is now. That squad was a superteam that won 73 regular-season games.
This season, the Warriors have fought disconnection -- both on and off the court -- all campaign and don't have the regular-season success to fall back on.
The Warriors said most of the confidence that they can keep their season alive stems from Game 4 being within their reach. The Warriors were up by 12 points midway through the third quarter. They defended well and cut down on fouling. They didn't play in transition much but said that they took good control of the ball.
Golden State guardStephen Curry recorded his third career postseason triple-double with 31 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.
But the defeat followed the same recipe of so many of the Warriors' other road losses, squandering all their good in the final minutes and failing to close.
"We had good looks that didn't go in, but we fought all the way down to the last second to give ourselves a chance to steal a win," Curry said. "Fourth quarter, we only scored 17 points. That's a tough way to finish. I have to look at the film to see exactly where defensively they made adjustments, but we had a lot of good looks. We had confidence."
The vibe in the Warriors locker room after Game 4 sent a different message than their words of pure optimism. Jordan Poole spoke to reporters with his back to them. There was no music being played. There were murmurs of wondering how they let the game slip away.
Still, the Warriors are heading back to San Francisco's Chase Center for Wednesday's Game 5 trying not to think too far into the future and simply extend their season by one game.
As different as they are now from when they made that comeback in 2016, they are telling themselves the same thing they told themselves back then: "Take it one game at a time and enjoy the process of chasing greatness," Thompson said.