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OAKLAND -- Unlike so many games during their ongoing win streak, when the Warriors stepped onto the court feeling rightfully superior, their 11th consecutive victory was powered in part by their own anxiety.
The Warriors felt the Pelicans could come into Oracle Arena on Thursday and put up a real fight, with star forward Anthony Davis capable of inflicting serious damage.
So, after a curiously slow start, the Warriors starters retreated to the bench, watched the reserves ratchet up the energy to a level the starters matched upon their return.
The result was a 112-85 win that was their most complete performance since their 21-point victory over the Lakers on Nov. 16.
[RECAP: Warriors soar to 11th straight win]
"I know over the last five or six games we haven't played like that,'' coach Steve Kerr said. "Part of it was that we were challenged by this team because they are hard to guard and very talented. It was good for us to feel, as my old coach Gregg Popovich would call it, appropriate fear, where you come into a game and you know if you don't play well that you are in trouble."
The Warriors were in trouble for all of about 13 minutes, when they trailed by eight (30-22) one minute into the second quarter. The reserves on the court reeled off a 12-0 run that put the Warriors up for good.
The starters returned and, fully engaged, blew the Pelicans off the floor. The Warriors went up 53-40 at the half and New Orleans never got any closer.
"We knew this was going to be a little tougher game,'' forward Draymond Green said. "You may look at the score and say it wasn’t, but it definitely was.
"This was the first real test we've had in a few weeks. So to come out and respond the way we did was huge and a step in the right direction."
The Warriors own the league's best record, 16-2, and earned a share of the franchise-record win streak of 11 set in 1971-72. They overcame a Pelicans team that, aside from the magnificent Anthony Davis (30 points, 15 rebounds) put up little resistance after halftime.
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"It feels great,'' said Klay Thompson, who finished with a team-high 23 points. "I won't sell it short. It's only December, but you've got to enjoy every minute in this league. We're on top right now and that's where we plan to stay."
THE GOOD: The Warriors bench that spurred the win outscored its New Orleans counterparts 31-18, with Marreese Speights finishing with 12 in 17 minutes.
Once again, Harrison Barnes was quietly productive: 17 points (on 7-of-12 shooting) and 10 rebounds. He's been impressive averaging 9.0 rebounds over his last 10 games.
Stephen Curry's latest MVP statement: 19 points, 11 assists and four steals.
Draymond Green had a 14-point, 14-rebound night and, to be sure, did a commendable job battling Davis, who is a force of nature.
Andrew Bogut blocked four shots, hiking his total to 17 over the last four games.
Thompson shot 7-of-9 after the first quarter.
THE BAD: Um, well, there was Thompson's 1-of-8 shooting in the first quarter.
The Warriors, who shoot 78 percent from the foul line, were uncharacteristically errant, going 8-of-17 (47.1 percent). How bad was it? Andre Iguodala, fouled on a 3-point shot, missed all three free throws.
THE TAKE: For most of this win streak, the Warriors have been cruising past vastly inferior teams. They've turned it on when necessary, especially on defense, and always found a way. Fearing the possibility of defeat, they woke up early this time, holding New Orleans to 26.1 shooting in the second quarter.
They stayed awake the rest of the night, put another win in the bag and will go to Chicago, a very real threat, hoping to pocket their 12th win in a row and have the franchise record for themselves.