Warriors' Harrison Barnes says 72 wins is 'that magical number'


Harrison Barnes was sidelined for the end of the streak, when his Warriors’ undefeated days ended Saturday in their 25th game of the season. But even after missing eight games with a sprained ankle, he still gets the spoils of victory.

Barnes hosted a surprise "Sports Matter" holiday shopping event Tuesday in which he gave 21 girls' basketball players $150 gift cards to Dick’s Sporting Goods in Daly City, Calif. The members of the Boys and Girls Club's "She Got Game" program were appreciative — and excited to meet a starter for the hottest team in town.

"The winning streak helped a lot,” Barnes told Sporting News after the event. “To be able to see this kids and see how fired up they are, you know it's not only who you may be, but also the team that you're with. They're excited with what we've done as a team."

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Barnes’ ankle still is sore, and he declined to put a timetable on his return. The Warriors miss him, though, even as they boast a 7-1 record without him.

Brandon Rush, an otherwise seldom-used reserve who had sat out of half of the team’s first 16 games with Barnes healthy, has started at small forward in his place. And when All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson missed a game, the Warriors bumped newcomer Ian Clark into the lineup.

Barnes says that’s not such a bad thing.

"It helps a lot, not only to get those guys minutes and allow them to play a lot, but also, look, when you go into the playoffs, injuries happen,” he said. “Guys may not be 100 percent, guys may not be able to play, guys may get into foul trouble. So being able to experiment with different lineups, having guys play extended minutes, that's always going to help us."

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ould not have happened without ever-deepening bench

That all will be an issue for Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who also is sitting out these days as he deals with complications from back surgery. Kerr is expected to join the Warriors well before the season’s end, though he does not have a timetable, either.

Barnes and Kerr share one mindset, though: They would not mind etching their names in the record book. At 24-1, the Warriors have drawn all sorts of comparisons to the 1995-96 Bulls, who went an NBA-record 72-10 with Kerr as their backup point guard.

"I don't know how other guys feel, but to me, being able to win 67 games last year, that just meant so much,” Barnes said. “A year ago, we thought 50 games was a lot. The fact that we hit 50 wins was so big! Then to hit 67, it's like, 'Man, we got to 67 games, and think about the games we let slip away? Could we have gotten to 72?' Seventy-two is like that magical number, so if you can get to that point, it'd be special. And it's a little competition, too, because Coach Kerr was on that team."

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Still, Barnes insists the locker room has stayed the same, after the championship, after the winning streak, after all the awards and accolades. He has, too, even in his dining habits — regardless of E. coli and norovirus warnings.

"I actually have a Chipotle card,” Barnes said, “so I'm right there with (former North Carolina teammate John Henson of the Bucks) — hashtag stay strong, know what I'm saying — for Chipotle!"