Warriors still perfect after an imperfect game
10:05 AM
Art Spander in Luke Walton, Raptors, Stephen Curry, Warriors, articles, basketball

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — They’re going to lose one of these nights. Maybe Thursday on the road against the Clippers. Maybe Friday at home against the Chicago Bulls. Nobody goes through an NBA schedule, 82 games, unbeaten.

But so far, the Warriors, with a lot of talent and a little luck, are without a loss through 12 games.

That ties the modern-era record for the fourth-best start in recent history — no, we’re not counting the 1948-49 Washington Capitals. The ’93-94 Houston Rockets began 15-0 (as did the Caps), the ’57-58 Celtics and ’02-03 Dallas Mavericks went 14-0, while the ’82-83 Seattle SuperSonics, now the OKC Thunder, won their first 12, as have the ’15-16 Warriors.

The W’s remained perfect with an imperfect 115-110 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night, and as the very perceptive Luke Walton, the anointed interim coach, so astutely pointed out after it was time to exhale, sure, it was sloppier than usual. Who cared?

We’re spoiled. We’re so used to watching the Warriors get control in the second quarter or maybe the third — all right, the OT win over the Brooklyn was the exception — that when something happens like that against the Raptors we, media and fans, are not quite sure how to act. Not that we outliers are alone.

“We’re all spoiled,” Walton agreed in wonderful candor. “Not just you (meaning the demonic critics from the fourth estate). We keep winning. Our guys are so good. That’s our style. Our guys have a special gift to make big plays, and it’s not just one or two of them.

“We weren’t happy with the way the game was turning in the second half, but we were thrilled the way we stepped up to finish it to get another win.”

Walton, of course, has done nothing but win since he was designated as the temporary replacement for Steve Kerr, who since directing the Warriors to a championship last season has, because of back surgery and complications, been unable to coach a game.

But if the administration changed, the performance is mostly unchanged.

Against Toronto, Stephen Curry had 37 points in 39 minutes, and nine assists. Klay Thompson had 19 points (but only one in the second half). The W’s shot a competent 53 percent.

However, Toronto, which chooses to play what is known as deliberate basketball and thus draws fouls, took 39 free throws and made 30, while the W’s were a mere 18 of 27 from the line. The W’s, who prefer running, which they are able to do after the opponent misses a shot, were restricted to walking. Yes, they had an 18-point lead a few seconds before halftime, but they also were tied with under six minutes left. Unnerving.

“We’d love to keep pushing up the ball,” said Walton. “We started Steph in the fourth quarter and thought we could build up our lead. But you’re going to have sloppy games like this.”

The Warriors had Andrew Bogut at center for the first time since he incurred a concussion, but they didn’t have Shaun Livingston as sub at guard — he has hip problems — and that’s why Curry had to play so long. But great teams, and we’ll include the Warriors in that category after winning a title and their first 12 games the following season, manage to succeed.

“We didn’t feel like we played great tonight,” said Bogut, the designated interviewee. “We played good in spurts. It’s a positive sign for us.”

Not that the other 11 games have been very negative.

But Curry said the Warriors expect more of themselves, and even though they finished in the right place the trip was strenuous.

“They’re good,” he said of the Raptors. “There’s a lot of talent in this league. Tough games are good to experience. But we hold ourselves to a certain standard. We didn’t put any pressure on them defensively, and when we were sloppy on a couple of pressures, they came to life.”

Asked what went wrong — a bit strong when you’re undefeated — Walton shrugged and reminded, “The first half we were phenomenal. We had 21 assists at the half with only seven turnovers.

“We are putting together nice halves and finishing games nice, but we have gotten away from the overall great game of basketball.”

Article originally appeared on Art Spander (http://artspander.com/).
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