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9:20AM

Warriors 'not a surprise' in crushing the Grizz

By Art Spander

OAKLAND, Calif. — About the only thing that didn’t happen Monday was Dusty Baker taking over as the Niners' starting quarterback. But Blaine Gabbert is. And Dusty is about to become manager of the Washington Nationals. And, of course, Stephen Curry had another huge game — as did the unbeaten Warriors.

Down Santa Clara way, the 49ers, in either a fit of panic or of desperation, benched their QB, Colin Kaepernick, which, yes, was man-bite-dog news. Up here at the Oracle, where Curry finished with 30 despite not playing a single second in the fourth quarter and the W’s built up a 52-point lead in the third quarter, it was dog-bite-man stuff.

In other words, tell us when something remarkable happens, which these days doesn’t really describe any Warriors performance, even when they crush the Memphis Grizzlies, 119-69.

The Dubs are 4-0 now, every win against a playoff team, and their next game, Wednesday, is against the Los Angeles Clippers, who have a history with the Warriors. Meaning rough play. But Golden State didn’t take the NBA championship last season by backing away from anyone, rough or not so.

There’s a tradition of teams coming out the year after they win the title and playing better than ever — the Portland Trail Blazers of Bill Walton, father of W’s interim coach, Luke, did that — and wow, are the Warriors on a roll.

“We can’t wait to start in March or April,” said Draymond Green. “We got to start now.” They’ve started, and there’s no indication they’ll ever stop, and one of the reasons is they know how to stop the other team.

For the third time the in four games, Curry had a quarter of 20 points or more, getting 21 in the third. But it was at the other end of the court the Warriors grabbed the game, holding the Grizz to 12 points in the second quarter and 15 in the third. When a team scores only 27 points in 24 minutes, it has no chance. Memphis had no chance.

“It’s not a surprise we’re playing this well,” said Walton, who has replaced the ailing Steve Kerr for as long as needed. “This is what these guys do.” That sounds like one of those commercials. If you’re on the Warriors, who play to near perfection, that’s what you do.

“Our defense was fine in the first quarter,” Walton said, referring to a 22-21 deficit. “The message at the start of the second quarter was more that we needed to play with a faster pace. Twenty one points in a quarter is not points for us. The second unit was great again tonight. They came in with a smaller lineup and got some stops and we started pushing it, and they got some energy.”

They defended (Memphis shot 27 percent for the game), they rebounded (65 to Memphis’ 44) and they swept down the floor in waves as the sellout crowd of 19,596 joined in with roars and screeches. “Get Loud,” orders the matrix board over center court. As if the advice as necessary.

Walton was comparatively quiet in the postgame interview, but his words were meaningful. He gave high praise to Green — “Draymond has been awesome; that’s why we pay him $82 million” — and to Festus Ezeli, starting at center in place of Andrew Bogut, who has a concussion.

Green had 11 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three blocked shots. Ezeli had 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.

“This is a championship team,” Memphis forward Zach Randolph said of the Warriors, who held him to four points, “but they’re not 40, 50 points better than us. We know that.”

They were Monday night, and Walton who played on the champion Lakers in their glory days, said it’s not a surprise the Warriors have come out of the gate like, well, American Pharoah.

“When we play at a level like this,” said Walton, “we are very, very hard to beat.”

So far they’ve been impossible to beat.

“I’m impressed that we’ve started this well, and hopefully we just continue to do it," Walton said. "Confidence has always been something that our guys have, but it’s a fine line because you are also getting everybody’s best shot. But there’s also a little bit of an intimidation factor. When we start making shots and locking up on defense, it can cause some teams to fold.”

9:03AM

A ringing endorsement for the champion Warriors

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — The game? Oh yeah, the game, won by the Warriors in a romp. Even thought they scored only 14 points in the second quarter. Even though Stephen Curry didn’t score much in the second half. Even though head coach Steve Kerr made only a cameo appearance.

But on this night of championship rings and deafening cheers, when the W’s celebrated one season — the one in which they were the best team in the NBA — and began another, when despite all the predictions about Cleveland and Oklahoma City the Warriors may again turn out to be the best team, the game was almost beside the point.

If not beside Curry’s 40 points, 24 of which he scored in the first period, after those rings, not much smaller than the mag wheels of a Ferrari and loaded with diamonds, finally had been taken away and the basketballs brought out.

Sure, on Tuesday night the W’s 111-95 victory at The Oracle was accepted with pleasure, because if there’s one thing any franchise in any sport doesn’t want to do, it’s slip on its reputation when everyone is watching. Especially because Luke Walton, sitting in for the wiling Kerr, was interim coaching his first game.

Still, it was the ceremonies, which properly included everyone from owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber to Alvin Gentry, who last season was a Warriors assistant coach and this year is the Pelicans' head coach, that dominated the evening. After all, when you go 40 years between crowns, you make the most of it.

“I’m more excited than nervous,” said Walton before the game. Maybe his famous dad, Bill, was more nervous than excited. But father, mother and a brother, Chris, were there for Luke’s debut — and Curry’s continuing brilliance.

Steph was the NBA’s MVP the season past — as we were reminded by the chants of 19,596 enthralled people. And despite journos of the East Coast establishment contending the honor will go to LeBron James this season of 2015-16, Curry may again be the MVP. He was 14 of 26 from the floor (5 of 12 on three-pointers) and had seven assists and six rebounds.

Curry said it wasn’t easy getting back to the routine after he and teammates had become lords of the rings, but the team had received fair warning from Kerr, who picked up titles and rings with the Bulls, and Walton, a member of two Lakers championship teams.

“They warned us before,” said Curry, “and we tried to turn the pace quickly once the lights came back on. We were pretty focused and tried to make the simple play early, shots went in and we didn’t look back.”

They did look distressed for maybe a moment — well, the crowd sounded distressed — when the Pelicans actually went ahead by a point, 44-43, with 7:31 left in the half. But, zap, the W’s were again ahead by 11, and that was that.

The Warriors organization made the most of the night. It not only trotted out all the people associated with last year’s team, other than David Lee, who was traded, but it delved into history. Sharing the joy were  Howie Dallmar Jr., whose late father was a member of the 1946-47 champ Philly Warriors (and, of course, the longtime Stanford coach); Walt Davis, who was on the 1955-56 champion Philly Warriors; and Rick Barry, star of the 1974-75 champion Golden State Warriors.

“Wear those rings with pride,” was Barry’s message to the current players. “I was so impressed with Steve Kerr, who had never coached before last year. Now they have to remember not to try and do more than they could do. Accept the roles and win.”

They did on Tuesday night. For the most part.

“We need to play better,” said Curry, “and we will play better. But it’s obviously a good start. You just want to get a win and have some good moments. 

“You want to have that whole ceremony, the ring, the banner. Then you’ve got to turn the page on a new season, new journey. We were able to feed off the adrenaline rush from the ceremony and get off to a good start.”

While Luke Walton coached, Kerr, with spinal fluid problems, watched on TV in the locker room.

“Luke was prepared,” said Curry, no less prepared. “His preparation kicked in. He was calm and made some good calls.”

The Warriors and their fans had to like the call from Alvin Gentry, who helped build them a year ago and now must build the Pelicans.

“You know,” Gentry said of the Warriors, “they’re a great basketball team. They’re the world champs, and they got off to a great start.”

Hard to debate either thought.

9:39AM

S.F. Examiner: Warriors vs. LeBron: Rematch in ’16?

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

This one was for Purvis Short and Sonny Parker, and even for Todd Fuller, who unintentionally became the scapegoat of previous failings.

This one was for Baron Davis, who eight years ago showed us what was possible.

This one was for the Golden State Warriors and their relentless followers — past, present and future, and yes, with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes still babes, the future would seem every bit as exciting as these most recent 11 days in June.

Read the full story here.

©2015 The San Francisco Examiner

9:29AM

S.F. Examiner: For Cleveland and St. Mary’s, 'Delly’ shuts down the MVP

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

OAKLAND — He was hardly a surprise, this Matthew Dellavedova, who had a very large part in the Warriors' very large loss to the Cavaliers on Sunday night. He played his college ball maybe 20 miles from the Oracle, at St. Mary's, a gritty, talented kid who set scoring records and had his number retired.

That he went undrafted is yet another indication the guys who run the NBA are far from perfect. The man is physical and determined. In Game 2, his job was to slow down Stephen Curry, an assignment that left Dellavedova unfazed and Curry disenchanted.

Read the full story here.

© 2015 The San Francisco Examiner 

9:25AM

S.F. Examiner: Mysterious Harden bows out with abysmal (13 turnovers) night

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

OAKLAND — There they were, the MVP and the almost MVP, hugging. For one man, Stephen Curry, it was congratulatory, and for the other, James Harden, it was comforting. The end had arrived for Harden and the Houston Rockets. There were no more games to play.

The Warriors, led by Curry, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, had beaten the Rockets, 104-90, in the Western Conference Finals Wednesday night before a sellout crowd that sent cheers cascading down the tiers of Oracle Arena in ear-splitting glory. It is on to the finals for the golden men of Golden State. It is on to the summer, Houston.

Read the full story here.

© 2015 The San Francisco Examiner 

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