Like a kid back from college for the holidays, the Golden State Warriors return home on Tuesday night against the New Orleans Hornets with added layers of maturity and credibility.
The Warriors (16-8) are back at Oracle after a historic six-win, seven-game road trip that included wins against the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets. The franchise had never before gone 6-1 on a road trip in its history.
But, of course, one of Mark Jackson’s preferred sayings when he’s asked about the past of the Warriors is pretty straightforward: “It’s not our history.”
The Warriors head coach isn’t taking a shot at the franchise; he’s just focused on creating a new identity.
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And that’s exactly what the Warriors have been doing of late.
Led by the breakout season of Stephen Curry and the comeback play of David Lee, the Warriors currently sit in second place in the Pacific division and fifth place in the Western Conference.
This is little known territory for any Warriors team in recent years. The team is off to its best start since the 1991-92 season, having won 16 of its first 24 games for just the fifth time in 45 years.
Standing up against those old bullies
Like that matured kid coming back to his hometown, the Warriors are now stronger to take down some of those old foes.
Despite the monumental success against the Eastern Conference, the Warriors are still just 6-6 against the West thus far this season. In the you-never-thought-you’d-actually-hear-this category, the Warriors have games they should win coming up within conference play, including, yes, one against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Four of Golden State’s next five games come against fellow West opponents, beginning with tonight against the conference’s worst record, New Orleans. The Hornets (5-18) are struggling and have lost seven consecutive games.
The Warriors then travel to play the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night before returning back to Oakland on Friday to face one of the East's weaker teams, the Charlotte Bobcats.
Then it’s a home matchup with the Lakers on Saturday before flying to face the Utah Jazz a day after Christmas. When all is said and done, we could understand more about the Warriors’ identity.
Speaking of Lee and Curry
Lee took home Western Conference Player of the Week honors on Monday for his play on the road trip.
He averaged 22.8 points on 60.6 percent shooting and 12.5 rebounds per game in his big week. He also has seven consecutive games with 20 or more points or 10 or more rebounds.
Meanwhile, Curry is starting to gain more national recognition as a premier guard. Curry continues to impress, and is averaging 19.7 points and 6.5 assists per game.
Ezeli remains questionable
Festus Ezeli, after banging knees with Orlando’s Moe Harkless on Friday, remains questionable for tonight’s game vs. New Orleans with a right knee contusion.
Ezeli did not return after the knee collision on Friday night and was a late scratch on Saturday night in Atlanta.
It’s a rookie party
New Orleans features first overall pick Anthony Davis and No. 10 pick Austin Rivers.
Davis has only played in 10 games, but he's averaging 14.6 points and 7.4 rebounds. Davis missed 11 games due to a stress fracture in his left ankle, and returned on Dec. 12. Austin Rivers is averaging 8.0 points and 2.8 assists.
No. 7 overall pick Harrison Barnes is averaging 9.3 points and 4.4 rebounds.
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