Warriors

Instant Replay: Warriors beat Hawks, finish road trip 6-1

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Instant Replay: Warriors beat Hawks, finish road trip 6-1

BOX SCORE

There’s no precise definition of the term for real.

So the Golden State Warriors have to write their own meaning.

The Warriors capped a historic road trip with a 115-93 blowout victory against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.

Despite falling to the Orlando Magic on Friday, the Warriors win in Atlanta concluded an unprecedented 6-1 road trip, the best in the franchise’s history.

“We bounced back and I think it’s important for us to do that, to show that we’re for real and we’re going to be here for the long haul,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.

Golden State is clinging to for real, having propelled itself even more into the conversation as one of the league’s authentic winners, after the impressive road trip.

The Warriors (16-8) hold the fifth best record in the Western Conference approaching the one-third mark of the season.

The Warriors season-long, seven-game road trip included wins against the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets and now the Hawks, who are no slouch. Atlanta had lost just twice at home all season and entered the night winners of 11 of their last 13 games.

“This is definitely a playoff-caliber team and this win speaks volumes for us as well,” Warriors guard Jarrett Jack said.

The mental character is changing for Golden State. Once, built-in excuses like fatigue offered an easy way out. Now, the team seems to rally behind the challenge, a characteristic of a motivated team.

“It makes us battle-tested, none of these teams gave us any of these games,” Jack said. “We had to come out here and work for each and every game as soon as we stepped inside the lines. There were some games we were down and could have folded, and came back and played hard.”

Curry finds his way as one of the league’s elite
So much of Golden State’s success relies on the vulnerable ankles of Stephen Curry, who nearly had a triple-double with 18 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

Curry is having a breakout season in his fourth year with the Warriors, displaying a quickness and strength on cuts that only comes with health. He’s also realizing a greater offensive awareness, although it may not have been on full display in Saturday night’s less-than-efficient 6-for-20 shooting performance.

The streak continues
David Lee finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. He tallied 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in each of the seven road games.  

Balanced win
Saturday night was more than just the Curry-Lee show as the Warriors displayed a balanced attack. The Warriors tallied a season-high 32 assists and received 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting from rookie Harrison Barnes.

Off the bench, Jack added 13 points and eight assists and Carl Landry scored 19 points on efficient 8-for-10 shooting. The Hawks entered the night allowing just 93.1 points per game, fifth best in the league.

On a play emblematic of the Warriors bench on Saturday night, Jack drove the lane mid-second quarter, missed short off the front rim, only to have Landry grab the putback with his left mitt and power back an emphatic slam.

Of course, beating Atlanta is much easier when Josh Smith shoots 1-for-12 for just three points, a credit to the Warriors defense that also added 10 steals.

This social media conversation will only heat up
@B_Trail707 wrote: “@csnwarriors #warriorstalk another huge win for GSW. What a great start to the season. How are @StephenCurry30 and @Dlee042 not all-stars?”

Truth be told
@wildBlue82 wrote: “Jarrett Jack is possibly the best offseason pick-up by the Warriors. He and Landry are a big part of the 15-8 start. #WarriorsTalk”

Finishing with legs
Fatigue wasn’t a factor on the seventh and final game of the road trip. The Warriors burst out of the gates on the second day of a back-to-back, shooting 54.3 percent from the floor and 8-for-12 three-point shooting to score a season-high 62 points in a half.  The team finished the game at 49.5 percent from the field.

Outrebounding the opposition
The Warriors won the rebounding battle 54-45 against Atlanta and are now 15-1 when they outrebound their opponent.

Ezeli stays out
Festus Ezeli sat out the remainder of the game in Orlando on Friday night when he suffered a right knee contusion after colliding knees in the third quarter with Moe Harkless. The Warriors thought he would play in Atlanta, but he was scratched just prior to the game. Andris Biedrins started in his place and logged 14 minutes, scoring no points but grabbing seven rebounds.

The Korver factor
Kyle Korver is a great shooter for Atlanta, but Hawks coach Larry Drew had to limit his minutes and hide him defensively. First it was Klay Thompson, and then it was Barnes, who took advantage of Korver’s limited defensive abilities. Korver, who averages 28.3 minutes per game and 10.8 points, played just 21 minutes and had three points. Drew also pulled most of his regulars early in the night.

Follow @jimmypspencer for more Warriors news and analysis

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

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AP

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

OAKLAND -- Getting to 73 wins is impossible for the Warriors, and the pursuit of it never entered their minds.

Reaching 69 wins, their average in three seasons under coach Steve Kerr, is highly improbable.

Even winning 67 games, the lowest total under Kerr, is extremely unlikely.

There is, however, a number the Warriors are aiming for that also happens to be within their grasp -- but only if they can fight through the regular-season malaise and break an unhealthy tendency.

They can get to 35 victories at Oracle Arena. Currently 16-6 at home, the Warriors would have to go 19-0 to reach 35, and it’s possible insofar as they are less than two years removed from posting an NBA-record 54 consecutive wins at home.

Can a team that once went 14 months without losing at Oracle summon a three-month stretch of perfection at home?

The schedule invites the possibility, but it’s still up to the Warriors and how they cope with tug of three long seasons and that tendency to float a bit in front of their home fans, two factors that have had more effect at home than on the road.

“In general, the appropriate fear we always talk about, it’s there on the road for most games and it’s not there as much at home,” Kerr conceded Monday.

Kevin Durant used different phrasing but echoed the comments of the coach.

“You tend to relax a bit when you’re at home because you’ve got your home crowd,” he acknowledged. “You’re just comfortable in that situation. You can go home and go to sleep in your own bed after the game. So you relax a bit.

“On the road, it just feels like this is the last game of your career. It just feels that way, especially when you’re playing a tough opponent and somewhere with a crowd that’s going to be really, really into it.”

Having gone 39-2, 39-2 and 36-5 over the last three seasons, the Warriors are assured of having their worst home record under Kerr. Still, 35 is not impossible.

The drop is not unanticipated, as Kerr experienced something similar as a member of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, when they won three straight championships as their regular-season wins steadily dropped, from 72 to 69 to 62.

“Where it has truly been the most tangible and palpable is home games against lesser opponents,” Kerr said. “We’ve lost six. Maybe two of those are playoff teams.

“We didn’t lose those games the last the last three years. We dominated the home floor. That’s where it really shows.”

The Warriors have lost at home to the Rockets, Pistons, Kings, Nuggets, Hornets and Clippers. Only Houston is a playoff lock. Detroit, Denver and the Clippers are on the fringe of the postseason race. Charlotte is a longshot, Sacramento a no-shot.

The Warriors, in every home loss, have started drowsily or played too carelessly or were self-destructive enough to give back a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.

“This is the first year in my four years where we’ve lost a lot of home games that we shouldn’t,” Kerr said. “That just points to emotional fatigue. Trying to get up for 82 games is a difficult thing, especially in Year 4 of a quest to get back to The Finals.”

Coming off a successful road trip during which they won four of five games, the Warriors this week face the Knicks, Timberwolves and Celtics -- the latter two being playoff locks.

A home sweep is difficult, of course, but hardly inconceivable. And if the Warriors can pull that off, they’d have only four remaining home games against teams fighting for a top-four playoff slot: the Thunder and Spurs twice each.

Oklahoma City appears to be getting their act together. The Spurs, while still formidable, are starting to look like a team in decline.

They’re also the two teams most likely to get the full attention of the Warriors, who began the week by sitting through video of their last three games, during which they committed numerous hideous errors.

The message: Their unforced mistakes are the surest route to defeat.

“There are key points of the year where we have to hit the reset button in terms of our priorities,” Kerr said. “Right now is one of those times. This is an important week for us. We need to take care of the ball. We need to be smart and make good decisions. If we do that, we’re really, really hard to beat.”

Former coach takes epic shot at Cavs after they gave up 148 points to OKC

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USATSI

Former coach takes epic shot at Cavs after they gave up 148 points to OKC

When it rains, it pours for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After starting the season 24-9, they have cratered. Including two losses to the Warriors and one to the Kings, the Cavs are 3-8 over their last 11 games.

During the stretch, they suffered through a four-game losing streak and nearly blew a 23-point lead against the Magic on Thursday.

But nothing was worse than what happened in front of a national TV audience on Saturday. The visiting Oklahoma City Thunder strolled into Quicken Loans Arena and hung 148 points on the defending Eastern Conference champs and won by 24 points.

Saturday's performance was so bad, former Cavs head coach David Blatt took a shot at them before coaching the Team Europe in the Turkish Basketball Super League All-Star Game in Instabul.

Asked by a sideline reporter for his thoughts on the game he was about to coach, Blatt offered this:

"Well, I don't think we're going to have any problem scoring. I'm just wondering if we're going to defend anybody. That's what I'm worried about," Blatt said.

The reporter followed up by asking for his expectation of the final score. That's when Blatt threw a haymaker at the team that fired him during the 2015-16 season despite a 30-11 record.

"Well, I hope we don't give up as many points as the Cavaliers did last night," Blatt said.

Ouch.

Unfortunately for Blatt, Team Europe lost 151-142 to Team Asia.