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9:12AM

S.F. Examiner: At last, Warriors are the team in The City

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

Eight years it’s been since the Warriors, finally out their funk and into the playoffs, passed out T-shirts with the slogan, “We Believe.” The phrase wasn’t wrong, just premature.

The Warriors are the new boys of winter and spring. They’re the Giants under a roof and under a full head of steam. They’ve got the indoor in crowd, sellouts every night, celebs from the A-list, including boxing champ Floyd Mayweather the other night.

Read the full story here.

© 2015 The San Francisco Examiner 

10:18AM

S.F. Examiner: Success breeds even more success for Warriors

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

We have grown accustomed to the Warriors' success now, even demanding of it. One winning streak after another. Two brilliant backcourt artists, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Nirvana. At last.

The Warriors with the best record in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics -- nemeses since eternity -- trapped in the wasteland where the Warriors once resided.

Read the full story here.

© 2015 The San Francisco Examiner 

10:08AM

Klay makes a 40-point splash, brother

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — The kid is almost too cool, but that’s hardly an indictable offense. Klay Thompson knows who he is, and exactly what he’s supposed to do.

That he wasn’t traded for Kevin Love, or anyone else, proves the people in charge of the Warriors also know who Thompson is. And very well what he may become.

The man scored 40 points Wednesday night, so easily it was almost obscene. Whoosh, whoosh. Swish, swish. “Credit to my teammates,” said Thompson. “They got me the ball.”

But Thompson, half of the so-called Splash Brothers — is he Splish or Splash, and yes, it does bring back memories of that long-ago Bobby Darin song — got the ball where it’s supposed to be, in the net.

He also helped get the W’s where they’re supposed to be, in the win column, 117-102 over the Indiana Pacers.

There’s more to life than digits, but sometimes the numbers cannot be ignored. First, Klay’s 40, second highest in his NBA career to the 41 on opening night. Next, the 21 by the other Splasher, Stephen Curry, who at 6:22 of the first quarter made his 1,000th 3-pointer, sooner (this is his sixth season) than anyone else ever. Next, the 15 assists by Curry. Next the 18 points by Marreese Speights.

And maybe more importantly, after their fifth straight victory (piddling, yes, after 16 in a row a few weeks back), a 28-5 record. Chew on that: 28-5. Reminds you of the old Celtics or old Lakers.

The new Lakers, crushed Wednesday night by the Clippers, remind you that success in sports is temporary. So enjoy it while you may. And for the normal sellout crowd of 19,596 at Oracle, the victory was particularly enjoyable.

In what the mavens call a trap game, the losing Pacers between the winning Raptors and Cavaliers (even if Cleveland will be without LeBron James), the Warriors began lethargically and imperfectly. They were down 11 before tying it up 50-50 at halftime. After that, it was all Thompson and the W’s.

“A great win,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “One of my favorite wins of the year.” We’ll not ask him to rank the other 27, but his exuberance is understandable. You’re down 11, and nothing is going right. Then it all turns out well.

Also not to be neglected was the return of 7-foot center Andrew Bogut, who after a hint or two by Kerr during his pre-game talk to the media, in the opening quarter sent Bogut into a game for the first time since early December. He was out 12 games, knee troubles — as opposed to ankle troubles previously.

Surely, Kerr’s labeling the game one of his favorites had a great deal to do with the return of the big Australian, who along with David Lee, also healed from an injury, will be a necessity when the playoffs arrive and basketball resembles a wrestling match.

“We were tested big time,” said Kerr. “We had to figure out things as we went.”

What the 24-year-old Thompson, in his fourth season, figured out quickly enough was that he had the rhythm and the touch, making 14 of 25 field goal attempts, 6 of 11 on threes. “I had good balance,” he said. And excellent teammates.

“I’ve got to thank them,” he said. “I was going under a lot of screens, and I was getting a ton of open looks. I missed a few, but I knew they were going to go down eventually. I got a couple of easy buckets to the rim as a result of Bogut’s passing and Andre (Iguodala’s) cutting.”

Naturally, Curry was not forgotten.

“He just does everything for us,” said Thompson. “He’s so good at finding us. He attracts so much attention on the offensive end, and his defense is underrated.”

Bogut played 14 minutes 41 seconds and had two baskets and eight rebounds, one fewer than teammate Draymond Green. “I played three-on-three (Tuesday) for the first time and felt OK,” said Bogut. “Thought to start giving it a go. Klay was unbelievable offensively, and it’s going to be a staple for us going forward.”

Thompson, raised in southern California, playing undergraduate ball at Washington State, is rarely lost for an answer. He was raised in the business after all, his father drafted No. 1 by the Trail Blazers, then going to L.A.

Someone pointed out it was a shame the dad was trapped commenting on the Lakers’ 114-89 rout by the Clips while the son was throwing them in some 370 miles to the north.

“I’m sure he had a little TV and was watching me,” said Klay.

On Wednesday night, on TV or in person, so were a great many others. Cool.

9:30AM

Warriors: The beacon by the Bay

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — Let’s not get carried away. On second thought, do get carried away. There’s a team in town, in Northern Cal, that has everything going for it: talent, hustle, fortune, a team untouched by so much of the trouble that has beset the others.

It’s the Warriors, of course, and they’re the beacon by the Bay, winners and not whiners, a delightful breath of spring, if you will, in a dreary autumn — and I’m not alluding to the weather.

In Santa Clara it’s one thing after another, a war between Jim Harbaugh and the media — and maybe, quite possibly between Harbaugh and the owner. The Sharks have been less than hoped, if not less than expected, and the Raiders, after losing a game, 52-0, what do you say except, “When does it ever end?”

Yet nobody wants an ending to the Warriors' success. Home again, at last, Tuesday night they extended their streak to 10 wins in a row, beating the Orlando Magic 98-97 at Oracle.

Sure, they should have lost. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said they were lucky, which arguably they were. Still, that’s part of what makes a good team good, a great team great.

They win when they should have lost.

Remember the Celtics in Boston? Remember the 49ers with Joe Montana? You had them. Then, as you cursed fate, they had you, and the opponent mumbled about what might have been.

What the Warriors have is their own Montana. Basketball never will be as big around here as football, so whatever is said or written about Steph Curry — whose 3-pointer (what else) that left his hand with 4.2 seconds was the winner — he never will be elevated to the places occupied by Montana or Jerry Rice.

He’s the man right now, however, maybe ahead of Colin Kaepernick and a notch below Madison Bumgarner. If this were New York or Chicago, cities where basketball and hockey have a history and a legacy, Curry would've already been touted for the Hall of Fame.

The Warriors, however, seem less a landmark, like the Niners and Raiders, the Giants and A’s. The word "afterthought" is a bit strong, but here is a team that at 15-2 is off to its best 17-game start in the 69-year history of the franchise and gets less attention than the Niners’ coaching dilemma.

Sooner or later the Warriors are going to lose, and Tuesday night was the appropriate time. Teams coming off a long road trip, and the Warriors’ was a six-gamer, so often fall flat on their return.

“It’s always been the case in my career,” said Kerr, who although in his first season as a head coach has years of NBA experience as player, general manager and television announcer.

“It’s a tough game when you return,” said Kerr. “Three time zones (from Detroit), and you don’t practice the day before.” And the Magic, who the Warriors defeated a few days ago in Orlando, played, in Kerr’s thinking, “fantastic.”

The Warriors were 3 of 18 on 3-point attempts at one juncture in the fourth quarter. (They finished 8 of 27). The Warriors trailed by nine, 93-84, with 4:27 remaining. Then Klay Thompson hit a couple of deep ones, and suddenly with a minute and a half left, it was 95-95.

Tobias Harris hit a running bank shot with 38 seconds remaining to get the Magic in front once more. The Warriors’ Draymond Green rebounded an Orlando miss with 6.9 seconds, passed to Curry and as everyone expected Curry flashed down the court and scored from 27 feet.

“I was thinking, ‘Don’t call timeout,’” said Kerr. “Steph Curry in the open floor is going to get a better shot than anything I could draw up. It’s what Steph does. He bailed us out.”

Somebody always does on excellent teams. Which is why they’re excellent. And exciting.

Curry saved the streak. Curry and Thompson and Green. They saved the Warriors, who as the Niners flail and the Raiders fail, are saving this autumn.

“Every night you have a game that proves something,” said Curry. He finished with 22, high for the Warriors, five fewer than Orlando’s Victor Oladipo.

What this game proved is, even when they are less than their best, the Warriors have the resources to win. They are on a roll, and as December begins a promise in an otherwise disappointing time for Bay Area teams.

9:39AM

Warriors have the look of a contender

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — The owner, Joe Lacob, walked out of the tunnel that goes from the court to the locker room and said to nobody in particular, “I feel better now.” Of course.

The Warriors had won, had stopped a mini-losing streak at two games. Still, with the team he has, Lacob should always feel good.

As should the Warriors fans.

This team has the look of, well, it’s tough to say champion, what with San Antonio and Cleveland very much a part off the NBA, but a definite contender, a team that will not crash out until very late in the playoffs. If at all.

The two guys we have declared as the heart and shooting soul of the W’s, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the “Splash Brothers,” were imperfect Thursday night. But with Andrew Bogut at his very best and Draymond Green quite magnificent, the result at Oracle Arena was anything but imperfect, a 107-99 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

And so the W’s, after a 5-0 start and consecutive defeats, are 6-2. Asked if he was pleased that with his stars not exactly starring (Thompson was only 8 of 22 from the floor, although he had a game-high 25 points) the team could win, Kerr chose not to be that specific.

“I am pleased anytime we win,” was his answer, implying it didn’t matter how or who.

It did matter that the 7-foot Bogut, unfettered and healthy, had 11 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.

“Bogey,” said Kerr, “was terrific. He can dominate defensively at the rim. He can rebound and he’s a terrific passer. That’s why we run the offense the way we do, with all those dribble handoffs.

“We need him to roll to the rim hard and get fouled. It was good to see him get to the line a little bit (3 of 5 on free throws) and get in the paint.”

He got to the Nets. Bogut doesn’t have a great touch, but he has great emotion and intensity. His dunks set off the crowd, which didn’t get going until about a third of the way into the second quarter once the Warriors got going.

The game was tied, 44-44, with a bit under eight minutes in the half, then, wham — or in deference to Bogut, should we say “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi”? — the Warriors were in front, 66-55.

“One of our goals this year,” said Kerr, “is to dominate the home court. The crowd was fantastic. It took us a while to get going. I think the whole key to getting the crowd involved is defense. Once you get the stops and get rebounds you can get out and run, and then the crowd gets into it.”

The first half, the Warriors had 18 assists and only three — three, count them — turnovers. That’s the stuff of a winner.

“We have a deep team,” said Curry, who finished with 17 points (for him, we say “only" 17 points). “Any night, someone can step up and make the right play.”

Like Bogut, or Green, who had 17 points and was three of eight on three-pointers.

“Our job,” said Curry, the captain, “is to be aggressive, create offense and make the right play. We need that second and third punch.”

Kerr contends that even with a winning record the Warriors are a work in progress. After all, the season’s only a couple weeks old. “We’ll get better,” he said, knowing full well every other team in the league will also — other than the sad-sack Philadelphia 76ers, that is.

“We are still adjusting and finding our identity,” said Kerr. “I want them to be explosive but a little less wild. That can be done, but it’s tricky.

“You don’t want to take away their spirit, but you have to be smart too. For the most part tonight it was pretty good, 30 assists and 11 turnovers. We missed some shots we normally make, and we had some open ones. What I tell our guys is that we are six weeks into this as a staff, and as a team we are just scratching the surface of what we are going to be.”

Which is one of the top teams in pro basketball.