Warriors believe, beat Bucks
By Marcus Thompson II
MILWAUKEE - The Warriors are starting to believe.
In their best performance of the young season Tuesday, against their best opponent thus far, they handled the Milwaukee Bucks 110-103 at the Bradley Center.
They competed as if they expected to win, not just hoped. They played like they're starting to understand how good they can be. The announced crowd of 14,712 witnessed repeated key stops, crucial rebounds and clutch shots from the Warriors (3-1).
Forward Troy Murphy knocked down several of the big shots, hitting four three-pointers en route to 25 points. He hit a crucial 17-footer with just over a minute remaining.
"They're starting to see that if they do the things we're trying to get them to do, we can be successful,'' said Coach Mike Montgomery, who has the Warriors off to their best start since going 5-0 to open the 1994-95 season.
"It's just a matter of experience and seeing (results), and I think they're starting to feel it a little bit.''
A lot of their confidence comes from their backcourt, Baron Davis and Jason Richardson, which dominated Bucks guards T.J. Ford and Michael Redd.
Richardson finished with 23 points on 8-for-16 shooting and 14 rebounds in 42 minutes. Davis put up 20 points and 15 assists in 36 minutes.
Ford, a lightning-quick point guard, figured to be a tough task for Davis, who is hobbled by a strained left hamstring. But Ford finished with eight points on 3-for-14 shooting and 11 assists. Redd, who entered the game third in the league in scoring at 31.3 points per game, had 21 points on 9-for-17 shooting.
Richardson set the tone early. He had a double-double with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Davis took over later, totaling 13 points and eight assists in the second half. He was especially effective down the stretch, negating Ford's quickness advantage by posting up.
"We have the top backcourt in the league,'' Murphy said.
Several players have also attributed their rise in confidence to defensive improvements, especially an ability to tighten up down the stretch.
"Defensively, I like how we're approaching this road trip as far as playing as hard as we possibly can,'' Davis said. ``We do have some miscues. We're just still trying to find our rhythm as a team. It's going to take some time. We're not always where we're supposed to be. We're not always on the same page at the same time. But we're learning, we're growing together.''
The Warriors still haven't found their rhythm offensively and rarely get out on the break. They still need to tighten the defensive rotation and cut down the number of open shots they allow.
But they're starting to believe they can win.
"It's a belief in progress,'' guard Derek Fisher said. "Wins like (Tuesday's) help build that belief and that confidence that you can win against good teams in their building. Road wins always give you that extra belief.''
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