W's to be supremely tested by Thunder at Oracle

W's to be supremely tested by Thunder at Oracle
January 23, 2013, 1:30 pm
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The Warriors are finishing a 12-game stretch of schedule that includes 11 opponents with records of .500 or greater. (AP)

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Programming note: Thunder-Warriors coverage kicks off tonight with Warriors Pregame Live at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area 

Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson doesn’t sway too far from one of his favorite slogans: “We know who we are.”

The coach doesn’t seem to lose focus of his team’s identity, even with the league-best Thunder visiting.

Jackson maintained his consistent stance on Tuesday: “It’s not a measuring stick, we already put that back in the tool drawer.”

Sure, wins represent equal weight in the standings, but of course some games are greater statements than others. The Warriors’ victory on Monday against the Clippers gave the Warriors (25-15) the season series, three games to one. That was a measuring-stick win.

With the Thunder (33-9), a win would certainly be a way of determining the Warriors’ legitimacy as a contender.

It won’t be easy. Oklahoma City features Kevin Durant, arguably the league’s greatest scorer who is averaging 29.5 points per game and Russell Westbrook, one of the league’s top point guards at 23 points and 8.2 assists per game.

Those are tough matchups for any team.

“The reason why they are successful is because they’ve got two guys that put the foot on the gas pedal at all times and can carry that team,” Jackson said. “They have two superstars, one guy that is an all-time great in Durant and Westbrook who is a great basketball player.

“It’s a tough matchup, this league has not seen anything like Kevin Durant – ever.”

Continuing high-level play
The Warriors, after losing five of six games, have now won two in a row. The Warriors continue their best start since 1991-92 when they began with a record of 26-13.

Golden State has not been 10 games over .500 this far into a season since the 2007-08 season that ended at 48-34.

The Warriors are finishing a 12-game stretch of schedule that includes 11 opponents with records of .500 or greater. That stretch ends on the road on Friday and Saturday at the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks, respectively.

Decision time on All-Stars
Before the Warriors take the court against two of the league’s elite superstars, the team will know whether or not either of their guys will be identified as stars.

With the league’s best record in town, the Oklahoma City Thunder, led by Durant and Westbrook, the Warriors will find out on Thursday whether or not Stephen Curry or David Lee will be named to the 2012-13 All-Star team.

The Warriors could have their first All-Star since 1997 when reserves are announced Thursday at 4 p.m. on TNT. Seven reserves will be selected for each conference to play at the All-Star Game in Houston on Feb. 17.

Both Curry and Lee would have legitimate beefs with NBA coaches if they are not voted to represent the Warriors, owners of the fifth best record in the Western Conference.

Warriors coach Mark Jackson has referenced how much both of his leading scorers deserve the honor. At practice on Tuesday, he made one final push.

“To me it would be criminal, for lack of a better word, if those guys didn’t make it,” Jackson said. “They both deserve it and at the time it will be announced we’ll be 10 games over .500.

“You want to reward what’s right, and what Steph Curry and David Lee have done this year is what’s right,” Jackson said. “I think it’s doing a disservice to the game of basketball and what those guys have done here to not have them in Houston.”

Curry is leading the NBA in three-point percentage (46.4 percent) for players with two or more attempts. He is seventh in the league in scoring at 20.7 points per game and adds 6.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds.

Curry’s numbers are among the game’s elite, as he is one of only three players this season with averages of at least 20 points, six assists and four rebounds. The others? LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. 

David Lee also has a good shot at earning a reserve spot. He is No. 12 in the league in scoring at 19.6 points per game and is seventh in the league in rebounding at 10.8 per game.

Jackson was asked whether he thought politics played into whom is selected as all-stars.

“We know who the jurors are, and if they do not get voted in, I think you’ve got to question the process,” Jackson said. “I am not going to go all Dr. King on them, but at the same time you’ve got to stand for what’s right. These guys have changed this whole organization, they have led, they have sacrificed, they have defended; they have competed. If the Lakers can get two guys, we already know something has got to be done.”

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