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Mark Jackson turned around a woebegone franchise by sweeping away countless books dedicated to offense, as prepared by offensive wizard Don Nelson, and replacing them with tomes devoted to defense.
Jackson's move made the Warriors infinitely more formidable on one end but considerably less potent on the other.
So here comes Steve Kerr, thumbing through the entire library. He's peeking at Nelson's volumes about offense, which focus on matchups and pace and passing. He's peeking at Jackson's manuals on defense, which focus on such techniques as switching and shading.
But Kerr also has what he brought to the job. He has his own ideas, many of which come from seeds planted by such mentors as Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson and Lute Olson. Kerr also brought in a bona fide defensive specialist, Ron Adams, as an assistant.
The ultimate payoff is yet to come, but the research and application has become startlingly evident during the Warriors' 12-game win streak, which shattered a 43-year-old franchise record.
While so many eyes turn toward the offense, admiring its complex beauty, defense is becoming a Warriors touchstone.
"They've figured out that defensively we're very good, so if we just take care of the ball and defend every night, then we've got a chance to win," Kerr said after a 112-102 win over the Bulls on Saturday. "That's been the constant during this streak."
"As long as we take care of the ball and defend, which we've done throughout the streak, we know we're skilled enough to find somebody to make some shots. Tonight it was Draymond (Green). But we've got a lot of guys who can fill it up."
Though the depth of Warriors capable of scoring – nine Warriors average double figures on a per-48-minutes basis – forces defenses to scuffle and scramble, it's the Warriors defense that has been the constant. When it's not marvelous, it's good, often turning close games into runaway victories. In most of these 12 games there is a quarter, typically the fourth, when the Warriors simply suffocate opponents.
The Bulls, victim No. 12, shot 43.4 percent for the game but 29.2 percent in the fourth quarter, when the Warriors needed less than two minutes to expand a two-point lead to 10.
The Pelicans, victim No. 11, shot 41.6 percent for the game but 26.1 percent in the second quarter, when the Warriors took a double-digit lead they never lost.
The Magic, victim No. 10, shot 44.8 percent but made only two baskets inside the final four minutes, a span during which they missed four shots and committed two turnovers.
The Pistons shot 36.3 percent for the game, 36.4 in the final quarter. The Hornets shot 43.7 percent for the game, 28.6 in the final quarter. The Magic shot 41.4 for the game, 21.7 percent in the third quarter, when the Warriors pushed their lead from 10 points to 27.
In winning at Miami, the Warriors held the Heat to 17.6 percent shooting in the fourth quarter. Two days earlier, they held the Thunder to 31.8 percent for the second half. There was Utah's 25.0 percent first quarter, from which the Jazz never recovered.
This is the kind of stuff that pleases Prof. Adams, who devotes most of his time to studying tendencies and one-on-one consultation with specific players. Stephen Curry is one of his star pupils.
"If we play the way we're supposed to play, move the ball and show up defensively with our mental focus and effort," Curry said, "we feel like we're the best team in the league and can control games from start to finish."
Offense gets the glory. It's the food of highlights. But defense, utterly neglected by the Warriors only a few years ago, is feeding this historic win streak.