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Warriors' turnaround sparked by defense

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 1, 2013 at 10:55 pm •  Published: January 1, 2013
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Jackson believes players started to embrace his approach once they realized the previous ways didn't translate into wins.

Golden State is 19-2 when outrebounding an opponent, and 6-1 when holding teams below 40 percent shooting this season. Only two teams — Oklahoma City and Sacramento — have shot more than 50 percent against the Warriors, who lost both of those games.

Golden State finished December with a 12-4 record, including a 6-1 road trip highlighted by a win at the defending champion Miami Heat, and won at least 20 games before New Year's Day for the first time since 1980. The Warriors also tied the 1961-62 team — when the franchise was still in Philadelphia — with 12 wins in December.

They are 11-6 on the road, already equaling the amount of wins away from home during last season's shortened schedule. Only San Antonio, with 12 roads wins, has more this season.

Not bad for a franchise that has made the playoffs just once since 1994.

"They witnessed where relying on the offensive end got them," Jackson said. "That's with all due respect. There was some success, but it wasn't success that was able to be sustained. Preaching to them, defensively, if you get it done, people are going to have to deal with you. And not just this year, but for a long time to come."

Perhaps the most surprising part of the new Warriors' way is that they're doing it with two of the team's best defensive players out with injuries.

Andrew Bogut, expected to be the new franchise center, has played in only four games and is out indefinitely while he recovers from the lingering effects of surgery on his left ankle. Small forward Brandon Rush, who Jackson had called his best perimeter defender, was lost for the season after tearing two ligaments in his left knee the second game of the year.

"I'm extremely proud of this group," Jackson said. "I really believe that bigger things lie ahead than what we just accomplished."

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Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP