Warriors roll into February, and Thursday to the White House
NEW YORK (AP) They feel like the dog days of the NBA season, the January games that are months from the ones teams really want to be playing.
Steve Kerr has been part of the some of the league's greatest teams, so he knows how tough January can be.
Yet for his Golden State Warriors, it didn't turn out that tough at all.
''Well, we had ours in late December instead,'' Kerr said. ''So maybe the time frame was a little different.''
They arrive in February at 44-4 and on their way to Washington and the annual champion's trip to the White House. The Warriors went 14-2 in January and closed it with seven straight wins, a dominant stretch that left them ahead of Chicago's 72-win pace in 1995-96.
Golden State had a couple losses and close calls late in December and early January, and though the record points to a team that has barely gotten off track, the Warriors insist there was some slippage.
''There was, but I think we've continued to approach the game the right way and continued to get better and that's what's important,'' All-Star Draymond Green said.
He and Kerr point to the 113-95 loss at Detroit on Jan. 16. The Warriors haven't lost since, with blowout victories over Cleveland, San Antonio and Chicago. A second-half slip against Philadelphia on Saturday, when the Warriors blew a 24-point lead before pulling it out, is the only time they've come close to losing again.
As they reach February and see a break in sight, the Warriors want to really pour it on.
''We didn't play particularly well late December, early January, and then as I mentioned the Detroit game couple of weeks ago seemed to wake us up and we got our edge back and we've been on a good run since then, minus the second half yesterday,'' Kerr said Sunday.
''But overall we've played really well the last couple of weeks and it's a good time to do that because with the All-Star break coming up these are difficult games. Guys get tired and so if you can get on a nice run, especially on the road, play well on the road before the break, you probably get a leg up on the rest of the league, or at least the teams you're competing against, and then you get a chance to get away and recharge the batteries and come back for the stretch run.''
Elsewhere in the NBA this week:
ROLLING RAPTORS: Toronto has won a franchise-best 11 straight games, but with its home arena getting set to host All-Star weekend, the Raptors will have to try to keep it going on the road. They open a six-game trip Monday in Denver and don't play again north of the border until Memphis visits on Feb. 21.
BACK BY THE BAY: The Warriors' 40-game home winning streak ties Orlando for second-longest ever and is just four shy of Chicago's NBA record. The next test is a tough one: Golden State hosts Oklahoma City on Saturday.
DUNCAN'S DEFENSE: Tim Duncan has missed three straight games and will sit out Monday against Orlando with a sore right knee, and his absence has been obvious on what had been by far the league's best defensive team. The Spurs gave up 120 points to Golden State and 117 to Cleveland without their anchor.
DESPERATE FOR THE DESERT: Losers of 14 straight on the road, the Phoenix Suns won't have to think about those woes for a while. They begin a seven-game homestand Tuesday against Toronto and won't be back on the road until Feb. 22 at the Clippers. It's the second-longest homestand in franchise history.
STAT LINE OF THE WEEK
Draymond Green, Golden State, Sunday at New York: 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Green made all nine shots in the Warriors' 116-95 victory, giving him a league-leading nine triple-doubles and tying the franchise record set by Hall of Famer Tom Gola in 1959-60.