Warriors

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Warriors

OAKLAND -- The Warriors are 8-0 when they score at least 120 points and 9-0 when they shoot at least 50 percent from the field. They did both Friday night in a 125-97 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Warriors also, for good measure, shot 53.1 percent from 3-point distance, the fifth time they've shot at least 50 percent from deep. They've won all five games.

Yet those glowing offensive numbers did not drive the victory that snapped a four-game losing streak.

This was about terrific defense, about sensing a vulnerable opponent and pouncing with ferocity.

“When our defense is good, we feed off of it on the offensive side,” said Kevin Durant, who scored a game-high 32 points, but also had three blocks and two steals.

“We had the edge energy-wise,” coach Steve Kerr said. “And we were obviously a little hungry after four-straight losses.”

The Warriors limited the explosive Blazers to 40.9 percent from the field, laying it on extra thick in the pivotal second quarter, holding Portland to 30 percent while forcing five turnovers.

The five turnovers led directly to 12 Warriors points. They scored 35 in the quarter. With a 22-3 run in the second, they went from a five-point deficit to a double-digit lead they never lost.

“It just showed how hungry we were to win this game,” Klay Thompson said. “Trust me, we’ve been frustrated these last four games, hearing from (media), hearing from the fans. It’s hard, but it’s a long season. So you saw our energy tonight, how bad we wanted this win and that’s a perfect example of it.”

 

It was the fourth time this season the Warriors held an opponent under 41 percent from the field. Star guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 17-of-43 (39.5 percent) shooting.

“You know that they can get hot at any time,” Durant said of the Blazers. “But they can also go cold if you play great defense on them.”

The Warriors had fallen into the habit of alternating lazy defense with indifferent defense and occasional defense. They clearly had a mentality adjustment.

“From the start of the game the focus was the attention to detail that’s been lacking in the last four games,” Kerr said. “Everybody focuses on the missed shots from the losing streak, but when you watch the tape it’s missed box-outs, it’s letting guys back cut, it’s silly fouls, it’s not helping, not building a wall in front of a penetrator.

“All that stuff is really glaring on tape, and we pointed that out to our guys and they really got back to the basics.”

The greatness of the Warriors starts with their defense. Throughout the spectacular offense, the scoreboard-shattering exploits of Stephen Curry, Durant and Thompson, there has been a foundation of defense that sets the tone.

It was the defense that recorded a season-high 11 blocks, gifted the Warriors 25 points off Portland turnovers and held the Blazers under 100 points for the second time in 19 games this season.

That’s what shifted this game into a higher gear, as desired by the Warriors, and triggered their highest point total this month.

After all, no part of Warriors basketball is more fun to them than raining 3-pointers in transition.