OAKLAND – Those curious about how the Warriors will look when operating at peak efficiency now have 48 minutes to ogle in slack-jawed awe.
They weren’t perfect Wednesday night, but they were close enough to glimpse perfection and perhaps even reach out and touch it. Their 149-106 dissection of an incomplete Lakers team was a study in basketball so beautiful it begged for an orchestral soundtrack.
The ball whipped around with stunning precision, as did the players. The Warriors totaled a season-best 10 turnovers while recording 47 assists, a franchise record and the most by any NBA team since November 1991.
Shots were falling through the net at a stunning rate, 52.8 percent from 3-point distance and 61.6 percent overall.
“That’s the beauty of our team is that we have so many passers,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We have so many guys who can make a play and move the ball and that’s why the assist totals are where they are.”
This was the team’s summer dream come to life. When the Warriors added Kevin Durant to a 73-win squad featuring a back-to-back MVP and two other All-Stars, they were seeking a level higher than very good. They were chasing greatness, with a long and active defense generating easy shots for a glut of great shooters.
The Warriors, simply put, were going for the competitive kill. And for the first time in 15 games, 13 of which have ended in victory, their assets were on full and devastating display.
“I had no expectations; I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Durant said of his decision to join the Warriors. “I had a little indication on how we’d play, but for the most part I didn’t know how it was going to work together. I know how to play basketball. I know I’m a great teammate. And those two traits make it a smooth transition. I’m just trying to fit in with the team as much as I can. But I’m still going to go out there and be me.
“It all works when we play for each other and make the right play. Nobody cares who scores the most points, who gets the assists or rebounds We just go out there to play a good game.”
Durant scored 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting, the seventh game he has shot at least 60 percent from the field. Stephen Curry put up a team-best 31 points and Klay Thompson totaled 26. The trio combined to score 85 points on 31-of-47 (66 percent) shooting, including 13 of 23 (56.6 percent) from deep.
This was the Warriors team that from the moment it was assembled in July sent Warriors fans into delirium and shock waves of distress through the NBA.
“The guys we brought on are really unselfish and they have been their whole career,” Thompson said, referring not only to Durant but also to veteran big men David West and Zaza Pachulia. “They only want to do one thing, and that’s to win.”
This Warriors performance is somewhat diminished insofar as it came against a Lakers team that was utterly overmatched without starting guard D’Angelo Russell and starting forward Julius Randle. But playing so exquisitely, regardless of the opponent, is to be commended.
The Warriors didn’t stop at getting an abundance of payback against the Lakers for a 20-point loss to them three weeks ago in Los Angeles. The Warriors took the Lakers to school, taught them a lesson and left them to ponder their own inadequacies.
“That was a beautiful exhibition they put on us out there,” Lakers coach Luke Walton conceded.
It was basketball as Warriors fans imagined, leaving the sellout crowd at Oracle Arena swaying and swooning in amazement.
The Warriors would like to believe they’re settling into the team they want to be. And though it won’t always look so seamless, particularly against sturdier competition, they’re realizing how good they can be as they continue to assimilate.
“The ball was moving and the guys were just playing and they are very comfortable playing together,” Kerr said. “It was fun to watch.”