OAKLAND – The local and national TV audiences wanted to get a look at the potential NBA Finals matchup. They instead got a screening of new-age Warriors basketball.
With five Warriors scoring in double figures and the entire team playing spectacular defense, they rolled to a 114-95 win over the imposing Atlanta Hawks.
The Warriors moved to 54-13, with a 7.5-game lead in the Western Conference. The Hawks dropped to 53-15 but still have a massive lead in the Eastern Conference.
Harrison Barnes led all scorers with 25 points in his most impressive game of the season. Behind Barnes was Andre Iguodala with 21 points, Draymond Green with 18, Stephen Curry with 16 and Leandro Barbosa with 13.
Yet it was the defense that dominated. After living for decades with the image of an offense-first, defense-never image that has been hard to shake, the Warriors may finally have shed that for all to see.
They held the Hawks to 35.6-percent shooting. Star big men Al Horford and Paul Millsap finished a combined 10-of-32. Atlanta entered the fourth quarter with a total of only 20 field goals on 63 shots for 31.7 percent.
The victory boosted the Warriors home record to an NBA-best 31-2 and lowered to eight their magic number (Warriors wins or Memphis losses) to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
The Warriors were playing without All-Star guard Klay Thompson, and the Hawks were without All-Star guard Kyle Korver.
Several players delivered in the absence of Thompson, with Iguodala leading the way, but none was a more pleasant surprise than Barnes.
Averaging 7.4 points, on 38.7-percent shooting, over the last five games, he lit up the Hawks with on 11-of-13 (84.6 percent) shooting, including 2-of-3 beyond the arc.
Iguodala also was remarkable, shooting 9-of-12 from the field and adding six assists and three steals in 29 scintillating minutes.
Holding a five-point lead, 50-45, with 2:39 left in the second quarter, the Warriors went on a 9-2 run to close the half with a 59-47 lead. Green dropped in a pair of 3-point bombs during the rally.
The Hawks, who led by as much as five in the first quarter, never got closer than eight (63-55, 9:36 left in the third quarter) the rest of the way.
G Klay Thompson (sprained right ankle) did not play and is scheduled for reexamination next week.
The Warriors return to action Friday night, when they face the New Orleans Pelicans at Oracle Arena.