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Warriors send message with Eastern road rampage

Champs plant doubt in East's top teams with rout in Chicago

POSTED: Jan 21, 2016 1:22 AM ET

By Steve Aschburner

BY Steve Aschburner


Draymond Green was flat on his back, his bell rung, his head throbbing, for as long as it took the Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Bulls to run down to the far end of the floor and back again. Steph Curry said he expected to see Green up, shaking off the blow he'd taken from Bulls forward Taj Gibson on the Warriors' previous possession early in the third quarter.

But nope, he still was down, laid out when the heel of Gibson's hand and Green's left eye collided on the Golden State player's move to the basket. If you squinted, kind of like Green was squinting, you could almost see the birdies circling and tweeting above him, cartoon-style.

"I didn't know what was going on," Green said later. "My head was just hurting. I had a little small headache. [It] was like I had got into a fight. I remember getting hit like that before when I was a kid. Didn't feel too good."

Green, after adjourning to the visitors' training room, was able to shake off the impact, re-position his contact lens, pass the NBA's mandatory concussion protocol and sprint back to Golden State's bench. At the first break of the fourth quarter, he was back in the game, no worse for wear.

Mostly, Green wound up with sympathy pain, because the whack he suffered at Gibson's hand was roughly equivalent to the whacks Golden State put upside the heads of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Bulls in a span of barely 48 hours.

Against the Eastern Conference's best and arguably second-best teams, the Warriors trounced Cleveland and Chicago by a combined 257-192. They scored more and won by more against their Finals foe from June (132-98), but held down and defended better (125-94) against a Bulls team that someone, somewhere, still considers on the fringe of the league's elite.

In the two games, Golden State dished 71 assists on 96 field goals and turned over the ball only 18 times. It made 31 of 72 3-point shots and out-fast-breaked the Cavaliers and the Bulls 38-10. Curry scored 60 points in 62 minutes and was a plus-70 overall.

Both games were offered up for network television consumption. Both packed as much suspense and as many plot-twists as late-night infomercials. These were straightforward drubbings, one long movie edited into two shorter, similar flicks. Like "Kill Bill 1" and "Kill Bill 2," except "Kill 'Bron" and "Kill Bulls."

Road Warriors
The Warriors became just the 5th team in NBA history to win consecutive road games by 30 or more points
Team First Last
Golden State Warriors January 18, 2016 January 20, 2016
San Antonio Spurs * March 25, 2007 March 26, 2007
Los Angeles Lakers March 8, 1989 March 10, 1989
Seattle SuperSonics October 12, 1971 October 15, 1971
Milwaukee Bucks * Febraury 14, 1971 Febraury 16, 1971
* Won Championship

"One hundred percent," Steph Curry said, when asked if Wednesday's romp was an extension of Monday's.

And for those, the Warriors could thank Saturday's romp, which took place in Auburn Hills, Mich., and which saw the Detroit Pistons doing the romping.

Golden State suffered through its worst loss of the season -- at least stylistically -- that night, 113-95. The ball stuck on offense (just 18 assists, 10 below their average) and the resulting shots didn't cooperate (36.2 percent shooting). The defense got shredded for 38 points in the second quarter, a rare see-how-you-like-it experience for the guys who constantly do that to others. Detroit was ready and its crowd was amped and determined to celebrate former Piston center Ben Wallace's jersey retirement in style.

Well, all that Deeee-troit, Bassss-ketball did the Warriors a favor. And the Cavs and Bulls a grave disservice.

"Sometimes you're at home for a while and you forget how hard it is to win on the road in the NBA," interim head coach Luke Walton said after Wednesday's game. "You fly across the country, no practice, they're getting ready to play the NBA champs. They played harder than us that night. They executed. We just weren't sharp that night.

"That happens to every team, every season. There's no team that doesn't have nights like that. We just had a bad night. And our guys ... responded very well after not playing well. I think they got embarrassed by Detroit kicking our butts and they kind of refocused and locked in."

We're a mature team and I kind of felt like we've had that chip back on our shoulder. I think it kind of fell off a little bit.

– Warriors' forward Draymond Green

The Golden State coaches and even the players knew and had spoken of slippage, how the crisp, seamless ball they had played in dominating the first two months of the season had gone a little flat. Great had given way to good enough, and Detroit called them on it.

So the Warriors turned around and happily shined a similar bright light on Cleveland and Chicago, giving each 48 minutes of ugly video from which they can reset.

LeBron James talked after Monday's spanking about how far his club has to go before it can legitimately contend for the title Golden State holds. Derrick Rose, after a time-capsule performance that wasn't nearly enough, dropped words Wednesday like "embarrassing" and "ugly," his Bulls team spun around again for the 10th or 11th time this season.

Then there were the champs, their "A" game reclaimed, a couple of nasty seeds planted in the brains of East opponents who still aim to challenge them.

"We're a mature team," Green said, "and I kind of felt like we've had that chip back on our shoulder. I think it kind of fell off a little bit. We've been playing with it the last two games and it's exciting."

Green knows exciting. Before the game, he and Curry were stretching on the scorers table when the lights went out at United Center and the Bulls launched into their familiar, dramatic introductions, featuring the Alan Parsons Project tune "Sirius" that served as the soundtrack to the Michael Jordan era title teams. It was goose bumps time.

"I looked at Steph when that -- I don't know what the song's called, I call it 'the Jordan song,' " Green said. "Every time I hear it, I think Michael Jordan. 'No. 23, Michael Jordan' has to be said. That's what the song is to me. I looked at Steph and I'm just like, 'Yo!' And he looked back like, 'Man.'

"That song gets me every time. It's exciting. It's always fun to come here and play and 'You hear that, man?' I just think back to those days watching Jordan, watching 'Space Jam,' all that stuff. It's amazing."

The Warriors are at a point now where they're becoming authorities on amazing and goose bumps.

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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