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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.

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