Now that the Warriors have gotten the trivial stuff out of the way — an NBA record 16-0 start — they can focus on something really, really big.
That would be the 33 consecutive wins that the Los Angeles Lakers reeled off in the 1971-72 season, which remains the mother and grandmother of all team records four decades later.
To understand the magnitude of The Streak, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and company didn’t lose a game from Nov. 5 to Jan. 8, a span of 65 days or more than two months. More impressive yet, they had only one close call — a nine-point overtime win over the Phoenix Suns in early December.
Well, what about it, Warriors owner Joe Lacob?
“The one we want is No. 17,” Lacob told Balls after No. 16 earlier this week.
But 16 is almost half way to 33, right?
“We gotta get the next one!” Lacob pounded on a door frame as if to knock on wood.
So you’re sayin’ there’s a chance?
“You never know,” Lacob flashed a smile before he headed to the next victory party.
To think that any team can go unscathed for 40 percent of an 82-game regular season is nuts. But if any team is capable of it, then the Warriors have the talent and depth and determination to do it.
Still, interim coach Luke Walton said, “I don’t see that happening looking at the schedule we have. The players are going to get start getting rested soon on back-to-backs, so we’re not going to be having our normal rotation out there. We’re just not going to make shots at some point.”
Balls doesn’t see it, either. On Monday, the Warriors will begin a seven-game, 13-day road trip that includes a pair of back-to-back tests. All it will take is one bad half, one bad quarter, one bad possession to wreck the dream.
“Is it likely? No,” Walton conceded. “But am I going to say it’s not possible? Of course not. Anything’s possible … If we get to 31, we’re playing our guys. We’re going for 33.”
In that case, the Champs would tie the record against the Denver Nuggets at Oracle Arena on New Year’s Day, and, boy, wouldn’t Jack London Square be geeked up for that one.
THIS JUST IN: In case you missed it, Walton had a very important announcement for the rest of the league.
”Eventually, we will lose,” he said.
SEVENTEEN TO GO … The Warriors will lose eventually, Balls tends to agree, but who dat gonna beat dem Champs?
A quickie preview of their schedule ahead:
At Phoenix: Next.
Sacramento: Smile, George Karl!
At Utah: May have to break a sweat here.
At Charlotte: Potential toughie — owner Michael Jordan’s supporting cast is 6-1 at home right now.
At Toronto: Danger alert! The Raptors let the Champs off the ropes in Oakland, you know.
At Brooklyn: The Nets can’t possibly be better than the last time.
At Indiana: Could be a close call — but only if Pacers prez Larry Bird suits up.
At Boston: Celtics are better but not good enough.
At Milwaukee: Danger alert! Final game of the road trip and the second of a back-to-back to boot.
Phoenix: Back home after three days off. Next.
Milwaukee: Coach Jason Kidd wouldn’t beat his old favorite team, would he? Nah.
Cleveland: So what excuse will player-coach LeBron James have this time?
At Dallas: An irate Mark Cuban lobbies for a talent cap.
At Houston: Dwight Coward sits out because of Macroglossia (hey, Google it).
Denver: Thirty-three in a row? Lacob offers to buy a round for everyone of age in the arena.
STANFORD IS A BIG FAN: What to make of the wacko College Football Playoff picture? Allow Balls to break it down one week at a time, as the coaches say.
Clemson, Alabama are in solid position to claim CFP berths. So is the Big Ten, which has three teams among the top eight — No. 4 Iowa, No. 5 Michigan State and No. 8 Ohio State. That leaves No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 7 Baylor as the main obstacles between Stanford and a playoff spot.
Stanford can eliminate a banged-up, road-weary Notre Dame team this weekend. On the heels of a long trip to Boston last week, the Irish will have to make an even longer to the West Coast. Good luck with that.
Oklahoma (10-1) has a showdown with Oklahoma State (10-1) on the road. A one-sided loss would drop the Sooners behind Stanford, but it also could move the No. 11 Cowboys ahead of the Cardinal. Best hope: OSU wins on a 12-lateral touchdown that should have been called back.
Baylor (9-1) has a date at No. 19 TCU (9-2) and will be without injured quarterback Jarrett Stidham for the rest of the season. If you’re a Stanford fan, the Horned Frogs are your third favorite team this weekend — right after the one that plays Cal, of course.
OH, NEVER MIND: The Athletics brought back one of the guys who got away on Wednesday, and their fans will be thrilled to know that he’s Yoenis Ces —
Sorry, it’s 31-year-old retread Brett Lowrie, who was acquired from the Houston Astros in return for a minor league pitcher and copy of “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.”
“Jed is a very good player,” general manager David Forst broke the news. “He was very good here, he had a good year in Houston. It was a good opportunity for us.”
Here’s the A’s definition of a good year: .222 batting average, nine homers and more than three months on the disabled list because of a bum thumb.
THE LIST: Ball’s best bets against the spread in Week 12 of the NFL season:
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-3 1/2): Wouldn’t Alex Smith look good in a 49ers’ unie right now?
New Orleans Saints (+3) at Houston Texans: A new d-coordinator turns the ‘Aints around for one week at least.
Raiders (-2) at Tennessee Titans: Pride and Poise face a must-win situation against a Titans team that has yet to win at home.
Minnesota Vikings (+ 2 1/2) at Atlanta Falcons: Like the Vikings to win this one outright.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) at Indianapolis Colts: Is rookie Jameis Winston a lot better than many thought at the start? Could be.
Last week: 3-2. Season: 34-21 (.618).
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