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SportWarriors return to pass-happy blueprint in rout of Hawks

06:05  04 december  2018
06:05  04 december  2018 Source:   sfchronicle.com

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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) goes to the basket as Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) looks on during the second half of an It is no coincidence that the last time the Warriors dished out 30 assists before Monday was the night in which Stephen Curry sustained a groin injury

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Warriors return to pass-happy blueprint in rout of Hawks© John Bazemore / Associated Press Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) scores during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) ATLANTA — The Warriors opened the season 10-1, only to suddenly endure injuries to key players, a rift between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, and a rash of losses.

In its 128-111 win Monday night over the Hawks at State Farm Arena, Golden State finally returned to the pass-happy, free-flowing style that has defined its three championship runs in the past four years. That it came against one of the NBA’s worst teams hardly seemed to matter for a Golden State franchise eager to recapture its usual dominance.

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The Cavaliers were hosting the Atlanta Hawks during the 2009-10 season, and the ball found Varejao with the shot clock winding down late in the fourth quarter. “They tried to cheat me out of it,” McAdoo said. In any case, it was a confidence builder before the Warriors faced the Knicks the following day.

BOX SCORE: WARRIORS 128, HAWKS 111

In Stephen Curry’s first game back Saturday from a groin injury that sidelined him three weeks, the Warriors looked disjointed, failing to find a rhythm as they fell in Detroit. In Atlanta, Curry seemed more at ease as he scored 18 of his 30 points in the first quarter to help power his team to a 19-point lead.

The Hawks got back within striking distance, only for Golden State’s immense talent to take over in the third quarter. Atlanta didn’t threaten after digging 91-67 hole with 2:31 left in the third. For the final four-plus minutes, the Warriors were free to watch from the bench as reserves polished off the team’s first win in three games.

More important than the final score was how Golden State got it.

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Over the past four weeks, injuries and off-court distractions had thrown the Warriors out of sync, prompting them to deviate from their movement-heavy blueprint and over-rely on Kevin Durant in isolation situations. In Curry’s second game back from his extended absence, Golden State pushed the tempo, spread the floor and made the extra pass.

In addition to getting a big night from Curry, the Warriors saw Klay Thompson pair his 27 points with eight rebounds and Durant need only 13 shots to score 28 points. Kevon Looney, who started at center a day after the team announced that Damion Jones had suffered a potentially season-ending pectoral injury, scored a career-high 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting.

Golden State shot 58 percent from the field, including 13-for-24 (52.2 percent) from three-point range, and hit 13 of its 24 free throws. The Warriors’ first miss from the foul line came late in the third quarter.

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Perhaps most telling was that Golden State dished out 33 assists, marking its first time eclipsing the 30-assist mark since a Nov. 8 loss to the Bucks. It is no coincidence that the defeat to Milwaukee was the game in which Curry strained his left groin. Without Curry to orchestrate their offense, the Warriors labored through far too many stagnant stretches for their liking.

Though the Hawks are deep into a rebuild, Golden State began to resemble the team it wants to be Monday. It only helps that Draymond Green, who has been hobbled by a sprained right toe much of the past four weeks, is set to return sometime next week. DeMarcus Cousins (torn left Achilles tendon) could be back before New Year’s Day.

Connor Letourneau is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: cletourneau@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @Con_Chron

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Injury trouble, an on-court spat and a four-game losing streak for the first time in the Steve Kerr era — it’s been an eventful start to the season for the Warriors. And yet, despite all of the drama, they’re once again rounding into championship form. At 20-10, Golden State is right behind the Nuggets (20-9) for the best record in the Western Conference and the Raptors (23-9) for the top mark in the NBA. The Warriors have won five of their last six games, and they should only improve heading into the new year.

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