OAKLAND – This one was, for the Warriors, a case of a game playing out on the court as it does on paper. It was, to be kind, the result of a grotesquely unfair matchup.
Their 126-86 pulverizing of the profoundly awful 76ers Tuesday night was a matter of simple superiority at work. What was particularly noteworthy, though, was the way the Warriors finished the game.
They punctuated it with an authoritative performance by a bench squad that typically has given back much of the lead the starters have built.
"I was really pleased with the ball movement," coach Steve Kerr said. "What made me most happy was the way our reserves closed the game. We've had some blowout wins where we didn’t close it right and got lethargic. Our guys really played through the final 12 minutes."
[INSTANT REPLAY: Speights, Warriors crush 76ers]
When Kerr emptied the bench to start the fourth quarter, with the Warriors (25-5) up 96-63, the backups came in and stayed on the accelerator, outscoring Philadelphia 30-23 in the fourth quarter.
The starters were expected to dominate, so it was especially satisfying to see the reserves maintain the momentum. Guard Leandro Barbosa, practically a forgotten man in recent weeks, scored 6 of his season-high 17 points in the fourth. And power forward David Lee, still rounding into shape, put in 6 of his season-high 13.
"Phenomenal," said Draymond Green, a former reserve now starting in place of Lee. "Those guys are continuing to work. Every day they're putting in work and to see them put it together was good.
"This was a game where we wanted to get everybody on the floor, and we were able to do that. And everybody took advantage of their time."
The Warriors won the battle of benches, 58-38. In addition to Barbosa and Lee, Justin Holiday scored 11 points. Ognjen Kuzmic scored 6 points in nine minutes. Every active Warrior played, and they all scored except Brandon Rush, who dished out three assists in seven minutes.
"It means a lot to the team that when guys who don't get much playing time really, really grind every day and stay after (practice) and get their shots up after the game and get their conditioning," Kerr said. "It means a lot to the fiber of the team, but it also showed up tonight with all that working paying off."
Marreese Speights takes particular pleasure in tormenting his former team. After torching them for 32 points in 26 minutes off the bench last season, he started Tuesday and scorched the Sixers for a game-high 23 points in 24 minutes.
"It's nothing against them; it's more for Doug Collins," Speights said of his former coach and adversary in Philly.
Collins is gone, replaced by Brett Brown last season. Not that it matters to Speights. He sees the uniform, and he snarls. He was not alone Tuesday night. His fellow starters snarled with him, and so did – for once – the reserves.
The ball movement was outstanding. The evidence: 38 assists (a season-high) on 46 baskets. Six players, including all five starters, had at least three.
Speights, who had tumbled from the clouds back to earth, cranked up his offense. He had 14 points (7-of-10 shooting) in 14 first-half minutes and finished 9-of-13.
Barbosa, surpassed by Holiday in the playing rotation, showed signs of fighting back, scoring 11 points in his first five minutes off the bench.
Green submitted another comprehensive outing: 10 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three blocks in 29 minutes.
Not much to see here, but we'll point out that the Warriors were outrebounded (48-42) – but offset that by forcing 28 76ers turnovers, off which they scored 43 points.
This one was, with the exception of the first couple minutes, a relatively complete victory, with the Warriors spending their last game of this calendar year exercising total control over the worst team in the NBA. It was the way it ought to be insofar as the Warriors own the best record in the league.