Rewind: No celebration for playoff-bound Warriors

Rewind: No celebration for playoff-bound Warriors
April 11, 2014, 11:45 pm
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Stephen Curry and Mark Jackson have the Warriors in the playoffs for the second straight season. (AP)

LOS ANGELES – There was no dancing and singing, no hooting or hollering, no bottles of water or anything else sprayed about the room. Not this time. Not this season. Not after all they've been through.

When the Warriors clinched their second consecutive playoff berth with a 112-95 win over the Lakers on Friday night at Staples Center, their reaction was brief and rather reflective.

[RELATED: Instant Replay: Warriors beat Lakers, clinch playoff spot]

They huddled together, only for a moment, to revel in what they had accomplished, feel their camaraderie and, above all, express sober appreciation for the journey thus far.

"It was different last year,'' coach Mark Jackson said. "But all we've been through individually and collectively, to fight, to battle and to find ourselves in the playoffs and continuing to chase down history says a lot about these guys.''

The Warriors (49-30) seemed to accept what they've done so far without a scintilla of self-flattery. That's what happens when you've been through a season of highs and lows, with as much humility as hubris. And it's also what happens when expectations are raised.

"Last year, no one expected us to win anything,'' center Andrew Bogut said. "So it was a very special moment for us. This year, everybody expected us to be here. So we don't have anything to celebrate right now.''

Well, actually, they do. They are the first Warriors team since 1992 to make consecutive postseason appearances and the first to win 49 games since 1994.

Yet they remain haunted, as they should, but games that reminded them of their utter vulnerability. Such a game occurred Thursday night at Oracle Arena in a 100-99 loss to a short-handed Denver squad.

"That was a game we should have won,'' point guard Stephen Curry said. "It's kind of embarrassing to not get it done on your own floor.''

Curry conceded he was ticked off by the loss. It showed. He lit up the Lakers for 22 points in the first half and finished with 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, becoming the first Warrior since Wilt Chamberlain (1963-64) to post at least four triple-doubles in a season.

When the Lakers stirred in the second quarter, closing to within five (43-38) with 4:34 left in the half, Curry found another gear. He was the catalyst for a 15-5 run to close the half, scoring 9 points and assisting on the other 6.

The Lakers (25-54) were done, never again getting within double figures.

"It's what superstars do,'' Jackson said. "He's a guy that was very upset (Friday) night after the game. He talked about it, he expressed it and, on top of that, what special players do is that they do something about it.

"His will, his determination, his competitive spirit carried us tonight.''

Curry's teammates chipped in far better than they did the previous night. The Warriors clobbered the Lakers on the glass (57-32) and held them to 39.3 percent shooting. It's a bad bunch of Lakers, to be sure, but that hasn't always prevented the Warriors from finding their worst.

On this night, they played well enough to dominate a poor team. It's part of the business of winning. And the business still is new to the Warriors.

"We know the history of the franchise,'' Curry said. "And to keep making strides to being a perennial playoff team, contenders, it's a big-time accomplishment. So we've got to appreciate it and continue to move forward, close out the season strong and get ready for hopefully another deep playoff run.''

When Jackson was hired as coach in 2011, he vowed that "things be changing'' in the Bay Area. Things are indeed changing. The Warriors, beloved through the misery, are firmly among the league's respected.

Moreover, they feel they belong. That alone is not enough for massive celebration.

Curry wore a hoodie with the words ``Kid Dynamite'' inscribed on the back. Given his energy and production, it was fitting.

Marreese Speights and Steve Blake were potent off the bench, combining for 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting.

David Lee returned after a three-week absence. He started slowly, missing his first five shots, before finding a rhythm. He had 10 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes.

The Warriors resorted to gang rebounding. Curry and Lee each had 10, Bogut snagged nine, Speights eight and Draymond Green seven.

Klay Thompson usually burns the Lakers, who employ his father, Mychal, as a radio analyst. Not this time, as Klay finished with 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting.

The Warriors trounced a team they should have trounced, one night after falling to another team they should have trounced. This victory was pretty only in its result, which the Warriors will take. It puts them in the playoffs, accomplishing the first goal of the regular season. It also was another brilliant display of Curry's ability to take over games. They should be pleased. They are. They should not be satisfied. They aren't. That's about right.

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