OAKLAND – This is the one, the game Steve Kerr and his staff can hold up as the example for how they want the Warriors to play.
Not every team will be as cooperatively compliant as the Charlotte Hornets, but that's not the point. The Warriors are out to improve themselves, and on Saturday night they gave themselves an idea of what they should be.
Their 112-87 rout of the Hornets was extraordinarily competent for all but the final minutes, which were turned over to the guys who don't get much run – those who try do as much as possible, as quickly as possible, because they know they can't blow a 34-point lead.
"That was a great effort – for 3[1/2] quarters anyway,'' Kerr said. "That was our best effort of the year. We really put it together. The defense was terrific and that really fueled our offense.''
The Warriors (7-2) held Charlotte to 36.8-percent shooting in the first half, 38.7 percent through three quarters. They punished the Hornets in the paint (42-26 through three, 48-30 for the game) and owned them on the glass, with a 51-41 rebounding advantage.
The Hornets, who played Friday night in Phoenix, offered some initial resistance but capitulated under a withering assault over the final seven minutes of the second quarter, which the Warriors finished with a 28-12 run.
"You have to have a certain energy level and readiness to play, especially against a team as good as them, which we didn't have,'' Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said.
Any energy the Hornets might have had was sapped by the Warriors, who so thoroughly dominated the night that Kerr was able to played every healthy member of his roster.
Klay Thompson led the scoring with 21 points, Andrew Bogut snagged nine rebounds and Stephen Curry finished with 19 points, nine assists and one turnover, leading Kerr to describe it as "kind of the perfect point guard game.''
The Warriors had 30 assists and 15 turnovers – only nine through the first three quarters. Ten different Warriors played at least 12 minutes, and all but three scored.
"We're heading in the right direction in terms of our offensive execution,'' Kerr understated.
It was a feel-good win, beating a team that swept two from the Warriors last season.
"We owe this team one,'' Thompson said. "They've had our number the past couple years.''
"They swept us last year, so there was a focus for us to come out from the start,'' Bogut said. "After the first quarter, they were never in the game.''
THE GOOD: Just about everything except the final, sloppy minutes when the Hornets "cut'' the deficit from 34 to 25.
Harrison Barnes once again was fabulous, scoring in double figures for the fourth consecutive game. He was 7-of-11 from the floor Saturday and is shooting 60 percent during that stretch.
Marreese Speights scored 13 points in 14 minutes. He's shooting 68 percent over his last three games.
Andrew Bogut was better than Al Jefferson, overall, so the Hornets had no chance.
Thompson (21) and Curry (19) combined for 40 points, 14 assists, nine rebounds and three turnovers.
Shaun Livingston took yet another step toward being the player he can be, hitting 4-of-6 shots and finishing with 8 points.
THE BAD: The final few minutes, as members from the far end of the bench played out the clock looking very much like they don't often get on the floor.
Andre Iguodala's shot remains unavailable. He missed all for of his attempts (0-for-4) and had missed 15 of his last 18 shots.
THE TAKE: The Warriors started well and finished so strong, so early, that it didn't hurt them to be reckless in the final minutes. The game was never in doubt, against a team that did not come to win. With the hot shooting, the low turnovers, the solid defense and sound rebounding the Warriors took care of business. That's a measureable sign of progress insofar as they didn't always do that last season.