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

How Warriors became better team right before the return of Kevin Durant

How Warriors became better team right before the return of Kevin Durant

When Kevin Durant returns, which could happen as soon as next week, the Warriors will be an appreciably better team than they were when he left.

Better because in Durant’s absence, veteran wing Andre Iguodala found the best of his game and fully regained his shooting confidence.

Better because David West, who spent the first two quarters of the season acclimating to his new teammates and the third on the injury list, has settled in and turned up his fire and production to a level that pleads for more playing time.

Better because Stephen Curry is dancing and Klay Thompson is cooking and Draymond Green is destroying opposing offenses.

Better because everybody on this team can sense the postseason and is making the mental adjustment, while knowing they’ll get an emotional bounce from Durant’s presence on the floor.

“Obviously, you hate to see KD go down; he’s going to be back soon,” Curry told reporters after a 110-98 win over the Spurs in San Antonio. “But we never really lost confidence in ourselves. There was no panic. We’ve just battled.”

Consider that the Warriors, who own the best record in the NBA, are coming off two nights during which they also proved to be the best team. Going into Houston and San Antonio on successive nights, they extended their seven-game win streak to nine, the longest active streak at a time when all playoff teams wish to peak.

By wiping out a 22-point deficit to a Spurs team that simply doesn’t allow that but did anyway even with Green completely off his offensive game.

And this was done with Durant observing and cheering from the bench in street clothes while also learning more about his teammates and appreciating what they’ve been able to accomplish.

Most notably, as a team, what they’ve done on defense. After recovering from the body blow that was losing Durant, losing five of seven in the process, the Warriors have pulled off a dazzling stretch during which they’ve taken apart all comers.

Prior to holding the Spurs to 41 percent from the field, the Warriors limited the explosive Rockets to 38.8 percent, the Grizzlies to 44.7 (34.8 in the decisive second half), the Kings to 48.2, the Mavericks to 35.9, the Thunder to 42.5, the Bucks to 40.4, the Magic to 37.2 and the 76ers to 43.8.

“We play a finesse style . . . but when we’re at our best, you talk about our defense,” Curry said. “It’s about having each other’s back, trying to do little things, physically, to keep teams out of the paint and off the glass.”

What has happened is most everybody in the playing rotation has grown in the absence of Durant. And while some had to if the Warriors were to withstand his loss, that they managed to do so is significant. The evidence is visible and palpable, never more than late Wednesday night.

“We have what it takes to win all sorts of ways,” Curry said. “Whether you’re down 15 and can’t figure out what’s going on in the first quarter, or you put together a beautiful performance for 48 minutes, it doesn’t matter. Night in and night out, you’ve just got to be ready to play."

At no point this season have the Warriors had reason to feel as good as they do returning home to Oracle Arena, where they will play six of their final seven games. Winning five more games gives them the No. 1 overall seed, regardless of what the Spurs do.

They’re on top of their game and they’re a few games away from adding the man who was their best player through the first 60 games.

By all appearances and insinuations, Durant will be back for the final two or three games of the regular season. That beats any trade-deadline deal eight days a week.

Instant Replay: Warriors erase early woes for big win vs Spurs

Instant Replay: Warriors erase early woes for big win vs Spurs

BOX SCORE

The Warriors won their ninth consecutive game, and this one was profoundly more significant than the previous eight.

With a 110-98 win over the Spurs at AT&T Center in San Antonio Wednesday night, the Warriors took a giant step closer to achieving their goal of the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs.

They now lead the Spurs by 3.5 games in the Western Conference. The magic number is five, meaning any combination of Warriors wins or San Antonio losses adding up to five would give the Warriors (61-14) the top seed throughout.

Stephen Curry scored 29 points, Klay Thompson tossed in 23, David West a season-high 15 and Andre Iguodala 14 as the Warriors, coming off a win at Houston on Tuesday, swept the toughest back-to-back set of the season.

Kawhi Leonard paced the Spurs (56-17) with 19 points, on 7-of-20 shooting. The Warriors offset a 42-34 rebounding disadvantage by limiting San Antonio to 41-percent shooting.

STANDOUT PERFORMERS

Curry carried a large measure of the scoring load, but Iguodala and West had terrific all-around games that included timely scoring.

Curry’s line: 29 points (9-of-20 shooting from the field, 4-of-8 from deep, 7-of-7 from the line), 11 assists and three rebounds. He played 35 minutes and finished plus-6.

Iguodala’s line: 14 points (6-of-9, 2-of-3 from deep), six rebounds, two steals and one assist. He played 30 minutes and was plus-17.

West’s line: 15 points (7-of-11, 1-of-2 from deep), five assists, four rebounds and two blocks. He played 22 minutes and finished plus-23.

TURNING POINT

When the Spurs went up 43-29 on a jumper by Kawhi Leonard with 6:46 remaining in the second quarter, the Warriors went on a 16-2 run to pull into a 45-45 tie on a Shaun Livingston jumper with 3:29 left in the half.

That wiped out a deficit that had ranged as high as 22 points.

The Warriors took the lead for good 80 seconds into the second half. San Antonio got no closer than five in the fourth quarter.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: F/C James Michael McAdoo (L eyebrow laceration) was listed as probable and made available. F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain, bone bruise) and F Kevon Looney (R hip strain) were listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.

Spurs: G Dejounte Murray (L groin strain) was listed as out.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors return to action Friday night, when they close out their season series with the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:35 p.m.