For most of the first half of the season, the Warriors set their bar impressively high, routinely winning games by double-digit margins, often by more than 20.
But only once in February had they reached that rout threshold – before cruising past it again Friday night in a 113-89 victory over the suddenly hapless Raptors at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
It was, for the Warriors, a very satisfying response to a 110-99 loss to the Cavaliers in a highly anticipated matchup of powerhouses on Thursday in Cleveland.
The rout was the result of terrific Warriors defense, particularly early, combined with a shockingly uninspired performance from the Raptors starting lineup.
How bad was Toronto? The starting lineup scored 33 points on 11-of-35 shooting and, moreover, combined for one assist. One.
How good were the Warriors? Everybody who dressed not only got into the game but also played at least seven minutes.
"Our team has done a good job of responding to losses. Not just losses, but lackluster play," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We know there are going to be games where that happens, because it's the NBA and it's a grind.
"But the good teams don't allow that to happen multiple times in a row. We were just responding to a disappointing night last night and maybe a disappointing four or five games defensively."
The Warriors (45-11) came out of the locker room in a sprint. They took leads of 22-5, 45-23 and 54-29 in the first half. With Draymond Green as the primary energy source, the Warriors quickly washed away memories of their loss on Thursday.
That the Raptors were 1-of-19 on the first quarter was partly about their own ineptitude and partly about the Warriors getting back to the kind of defense that carried them through the first half of the season.
"We just wanted to get stops and get back to defense that we're used to," said Stephen Curry, who finished with 22 point (8-of-13 shooting), six rebounds and five assists.
"We were on edge," Kerr said. "We were making every rotation, making every switch, rebounding. Some of it was some missed shots by them, but our defensive intensity was back where it needs to be."
Green played most of the game at fast-forward speed. He finished with 17 points, nine assists, three blocked shots, two assists and two steals. He recorded two blocks and a steal in the first 11 minutes.
"Draymond was fantastic," Kerr said. "Really, everybody was on point defensively, and oftentimes it's Draymond who's kind of the linchpin for our defense. He's the guy who sets the tone with his intensity and his intelligence. He made some great plays, forced some turnovers, got some long rebounds and that led to some easy transition baskets. That got us off to a great start."
Green's 3-point shooting made another welcome appearance. In the 10 games prior to the All-Star break, Green shot 23.5 percent (8-of-34) from deep. After making 3-of-5 on Friday, he's shooting 43.5 percent (10-of-23) since the break.
When Green is making an impact on defense and offense, the Warriors usually win.
When Klay Thompson and Curry are shooting well – they combined for 47 points on 17-of-31 shooting – the Warriors almost always win.
When an opponent is so egregious, as the Raptors (37-22) were on Friday, the Warriors not only win but also spend most of the fourth quarter grinning and giggling.
A 24-point victory gives a team a right to do that.
By raising their road record to 21-9, the Warriors clinched a winning record away from Oracle Arena – and the first time in franchise history they've posted successive winning seasons. They were 24-17 on the road last season.
This was the Warriors' 33rd double-digit win, also a franchise record.
The Warriors outrebounded the Raptors 47-42, snapping a string of six games in which they lost the battle on the glass.
Shaun Livingston massaged Toronto for 11 points and eight assists in 21 minutes.
Andre Iguodala sat out, simply to rest, and was not needed.
Festus Ezeli was ejected after a third-quarter altercation with Raptors forward Tyler Hansbrough and likely will face discipline from the NBA.
Reserve guard Justin Holiday, given an opportunity in the absence of Iguodala, missed all seven of his shots.
Coming off the letdown on Lake Erie, the Warriors needed a feel-good game. They played well enough to win, and the Raptors played poorly enough to invite a blowout. It all came together.
Still to be determined, though, is whether the Warriors have recovered their defensive mojo. It is impossible to know how much of this performance can be attributed to Warriors excellence and how much was related to Raptors deficiencies.