The Warriors want to believe that they're championship contenders, and by season's end, they just might be. But on Monday night, they got a firsthand look at a team that already has arrived at that lofty status. Every Indiana starter scored at least 14 points, and the team with the league's best record played its usual stifling defense to hold off the Warriors' frantic comeback attempt and claim a 102-94 victory in front of the 56th consecutive sellout crowd at Oracle Arena. "They're a team built for a championship, and you can see that now. We're close, but we're not there yet," said Warriors center Andrew Bogut, who had 10 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots in his 10th double-double of the season. "They've been through what we're going through right now. ... We're aspiring to be that." The game pitted the league's best two teams over the past 15 games, with both teams going 12-3 and producing top-four defensive ratings during the stretch. But on this night, the Pacers looked to be much further along than the Warriors. The Warriors (26-17), who have lost four of their past six games, were hoping to tip off a mostly at-home stretch - nine of 11 games at raucous Oracle Arena - in style with a national TV victory in the NBA's nightcap of a daylong salute to the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Instead, the Pacers (33-7) built a 20-point, third-quarter lead and didn't give into a hard-charging Warriors squad that has seven double-digit comeback victories this season. Stephen Curry opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer that cut the Warriors' deficit to 77-72, and Harrison Barnes added another at the 9:34 mark to cut make it 79-77, Indiana. The Warriors were still down only 94-90 after Klay Thompson (17 points) made a three-pointer with 2:05 remaining, but George Hill answered right back for a 97-90 advantage with 1:37 left. "They made an effort to assert themselves early. I don't know if we didn't show up, but we didn't have any kind of punch early in the game," said Curry, who had game highs of 24 points and nine assists. "Obviously, we showed that we can play with the best in the league, outplaying them the rest of the game ... but we've got to keep learning what it takes to be a consistent team."
Pacers snuff Warriors' comeback
San Francisco Chronicle | Jan 21