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Pieces starting to fit together for surging Warriors

By Jahmal Corner

By Jahmal Corner

LOS Angeles (Reuters) - The Golden State Warriors are growing more comfortable and confident with each game, bad news for teams trying to slow the best squad in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Having shed the initial awkwardness of trying to blend four All-Stars into one unit, the Warriors are now free-flowing toward their championship expectations.

“We’ve figured out a flow, an understanding of how we can be our best when everybody is aggressive and everyone is locked in on both ends of the floor,” Golden State guard Stephen Curry told Reuters after his team dispatched the Los Angeles Clippers 133-120 on Thursday.

“With so many new guys you have to let that develop. The last two months it’s been awesome.”

The litmus test for Golden State’s success is not just winning -- they have captured 12 of their last 13 games -- but how they thrive together. The league-best Warriors (43-7) are putting up 118.4 points per night, the most in the NBA for 25 years, with a flair and fun that could rival the Harlem Globetrotters.

Passes zip from one side of the floor to the other, players move endlessly, and the team’s bench revels in each play with celebratory dances.

“You know the ball is going to come back around (because) we move it so well,” said Golden State high-scoring forward Kevin Durant.

At the center of the team’s synergy is the growing partnership between superstars Curry and Durant.

When the Warriors added free agent Durant, acquired from Oklahoma City in the off-season, to a group coming off a record 73-win campaign and second straight NBA Finals appearance, they did so at the risk of dulling two-times NBA most valuable player Curry.

Those fears seemed to emerge on the team’s Christmas Day loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers when Durant commanded the offense while Curry noted postgame that he only managed 11 shot attempts.

Since then, Curry (25.4 points-per-game this season) has resumed his standard aggression and shooting artistry while Durant (26.1 points) has picked his spots with sublime efficiency, making 54 percent of his field goal attempts.

“Even though Steph was playing great anyway, now he’s just playing and not worried about stepping on anyone’s toes,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

“(Sometimes when you have multiple stars) everyone is trying to stay out of each other’s way instead of playing. What you find happens is guys figure out there’s enough room for everybody.”

And that includes fellow All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, who are quietly contributing, while big man newcomers Zaza Pachulia, David West and JaVale McGee have filled important roles.

LeBron James and the Cavaliers are the defending champions, but while they publicly covet additional play-makers, the Warriors are peaking. Their recent surge may be only the beginning, though it's worth offering a cautionary note that they set an NBA record for regular-season wins last year, without converting that into a championship.

“(The chemistry) is going to continue to get better,” Curry said.

(Editing by Andrew Both)