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  • MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ / Associated Press

    Warriors power forward David Lee dribbles past the Hornets' Anthony Davis during Golden State's victory in Oakland on Tuesday night. Golden State's success this season is drawing attention.

  • JOSHUA C. CRUEY / Orlando Sentinel

    The addition of veteran players like Carl Landry (7), shown battling the Orlando Magic's Andrew Nicholson on Friday, has been key in the Warriors' turnaround.

Lately, it seems the Warriors are making all the right moves

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 - 1:39 pm

OAKLAND – The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week took a peek into the locker room and noticed the media lurking.

"Looks like the locker room is getting more crowded these days," said Warriors power forward David Lee.

Yes, there is a lot more attention on Golden State.

The Warriors, who have been battling the Kings in recent seasons to see who would finish last in the Pacific Division, are one of the league's big surprises this season.

At 17-8, the Warriors are second to the Los Angeles Clippers in the Pacific.

The Warriors finished a game ahead of the Kings last season to avoid being last in the division.

But the improved health of guard Stephen Curry, good veteran additions (Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry) and the solid play of recent draft picks such as Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green have the Warriors ascending.

All this while last season's big acquisition, center Andrew Bogut, is still recovering from ankle surgery.

Lately it seems the Warriors are making all the right moves.

"When we sign players, when we trade for players and when we draft players, we try to focus on not only their basketball abilities but who they are," said Warriors general manager Bob Myers. "Are they going to work hard and are they going to compete? And hopefully that translates to the floor. It has in the short term and hopefully it does in the long term."

The short term has been good. The Warriors are coming off a 6-1 trip with Lee earning conference honors for last week. He had at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in every game on the trip. The last player to do that on a trip seven games or longer was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972 on a nine-game trip for Milwaukee.

Warriors coach Mark Jackson said it's OK for his players to enjoy the attention they've received, but "you can't fall in love with it."

"I'm not the coach that will tell them not to pay attention to it," Jackson said. "They worked their tails off and they deserve exactly what they are getting right now – but don't be satisfied."

The Warriors have been playing a brand of basketball the fans in Oakland are enjoying. The commitment to defense is evident with the Warriors entering Tuesday fifth in field-goal percentage defense (43.2 percent).

On offense, the Warriors are sharing, too, ranking eighth at 22.5 assists per game.

"It starts from the top to the bottom," said Landry, who played for the Kings for parts of two seasons from 2010-11. "Ownership as well as GM and coaches, they're all about winning. They're all on the same page."

Myers sought to add players with playoff experience to a team that was limited on postseason experience among its core players.

But he also wanted players that would fit in and also add leadership.

"Chemistry, in my opinion, is underrated and undervalued in the NBA," Myers said. "You see a lot of the successful teams, they've been together a long time. They've got great leadership and great character guys. And we're a long way from being considered a great team, but we are incrementally trying to improve the team with the right kind of people."

There's still a lot of basketball left in the season, and things could change. Aware of that, the Warriors are looking to guard against complacency.

But if this keeps up, they would find themselves in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

That's when the "We Believe" Warriors upset the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

"I got a group of guys that understand the mission and that we have done nothing," Jackson said. "We've done nothing. We are not going to be tricked into falling in love with ourselves."

Based on the attention the Warriors are receiving, there is plenty of love coming from everywhere else.

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