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Warriors focus totally on repeating as champs

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green acts as a mentor to Pistons rookie Stanley Johnson. He gives him encouragement, picks him up when things are down and is trying to teach him the intricacies of playing in the NBA.

Green (Michigan State) has also lectured Johnson about the Warriors record breaking 16-0 run to begin the season. This season is not about setting the record for most wins in a season or running up scores. It is about repeating as NBA champions.

“I know they are worried about the regular season, but Draymond said their only goal is to win a championship,” Johnson said. “I know it is not about winning 70 games or winning 20 in a row. How they get through the first season doesn’t matter. They just want to win a championship.”

The Warriors (16-0) hope to become the first team to win its first 17 games when they travel to Phoenix to play the Suns tonight. They broke a record held by the 1948-49 Washington Capitals and 1993-94 Houston Rockets, who won their first 15 games of the season.

However, the Rockets are at the halfway point of the all-time win streak in a season of 33 held by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. That team finished 69-13 and won its first NBA title in Los Angeles.

The Warriors broke the record in typical fashion, crushing the Los Angeles Lakers, 111-77, earlier this week. It was an evening of records and celebration, even though the team kept its postgame celebration to a minimum. That goes with the “championship or bust” theme.

However, the record breaking win was special. Coach Steve Kerr spoke with the team before the game. He’s out with a back injury, and the team is being coached by Luke Walton. By the way, Kerr gets credit for each win.

Here are some mind-boggling numbers recorded by the Warriors.

20: Their current regular season win streak. They won the last four of the 2014-2015 season.

15.6: The average margin of victory this season.

52: The largest lead of the season, recorded against the Memphis Grizzlies.

43: The number of games the Warriors have scored 100 or more points at home.

27: Home winning streak.

73: The number the Warriors are gunning for. The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls hold the mark for most victories in a season with 72. Michael Jordan, whom many consider to be the best player in history, led that team. Steph Curry, who is enjoying a MVP season, is being compared to him.

Curry is averaging 32.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists. His scoring and rebounding totals are career highs. He is also shooting 52.1 percent from the floor and 43.1 percent from the field.

Klay Thompson (16.2), Harrison Barnes (13.8) and Green (12.7, 7.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game) average double-digit scoring, and Finals MVP Andre Iguodala (9.1 points and 4.6 rebounds) continues to play a big role with the team.

None of those numbers matter to Green. He pretty much told Bay area media the same that he told Johnson.

“We’re trying to win another championship,” he said. “That’s what we’re fueled by. I think we’ve gotten greedy but a good greedy. I think it’s way better to be greedy for success than hung over on success.”

The Pistons were victim number eight, losing 109-95 in Oakland. However, they played the Warriors tough before falling apart at the end.

The teams will go at it again Jan. 16 at The Palace, the same night the franchise retires the number of Ben Wallace. It should be an electrically charged evening.

“We know we’ve got to play them again and when the opportunity arises we look forward to competing and proving we are better than we were the last game,” said guard Reggie Jackson.

Jackson said it would have been easy for the Warriors to relax coming into the season as NBA champions. However, the Warriors were mostly a disrespected champion by teams like the Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers, who believed they could have beaten them.

“So far they’ve impressed a lot of people,” Jackson said. “They won their title, got their rings but they are still a hungry team. This record they have is impressive. It is mind boggling that they come out and compete and play so hard. It is something the rest of the league is striving to play like, kind of free form. They are in the mindset where they are not necessarily playing their opponent but doing the best they can be.”

The Pistons give their props to the Warriors. But they plan on winning when the Warriors visit in January.

“They are beatable,” Johnson said. “They are a super team but they are not invincible. They expect a game every night. But they know if they don’t win a championship all this doesn’t matter.”

That comes straight from mentor Draymond Green.