OAKLAND — With the Golden State Warriors staring at a 23-9 deficit halfway through the first quarter on Saturday night, head coach Steve Kerr signaled for a timeout.
Following the brief break — the second stoppage Kerr had requested during his club’s plodding start — the Warriors pulverized the Milwaukee Bucks 54-21 during the balance of the opening half, on the way to a 117-92 dismantling of their guests.
“The second [timeout] was just to remind them to settle down [and] that they were going to be fine,” Kerr explained. “[It’s a] long game. I think we were down 14 … but I liked the way we were playing actually — just nothing was going our way. So that was my message: ‘Just stay with it and it will come back around.’”
The resounding win pushes the Warriors’ record to 55-14 and gives the team a 2.5-game cushion over the San Antonio Spurs after the West’s second-best squad lost to the Memphis Grizzlies earlier in the night.
Stephen Curry, who accounted for a game-high 28 points, poured in 18 of them during the furious first half, sinking four of his six 3-point attempts — including one he knocked down from the midcourt logo.
“He rises to the occasion on the big stage,” Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said. “There’s a lot of people who enjoy watching him, and I’m one of them.”
Kerr admitted that Curry has looked rejuvenated during the club’s now-concluded three-game homestand, following a grueling stretch away from Oracle Arena.
“Thank god I rested him last week [against the Spurs],” Kerr cracked. “Steph was great. He was great.”
Offensively, the second quarter was the Dubs’ most impressive stanza of the season. The team hit 14 of 17 shots, good for a 82.4 field-goal percentage, the highest this year.
“Our guys look fresher,” Kerr said. “And hopefully we can carry this momentum on the road.”
With a two-city trip — a back-to-back in Oklahoma City and Dallas — beginning on Monday night, the bench Dubs also produced a stunning performance. Andre Iguodala was +19, JaVale McGee was +18, Shaun Livingston was +13 and Matt Barnes was tied for the team lead at + 22.
“Matt played phenomenal tonight,” said Klay Thompson, who went for 21 points. “It looked like ‘We Believe’ Matt Barnes and we expect to keep doing that.”