OAKLAND (California) • Having watched his team beat three quality outfits over a four-day stretch, the Golden State Warriors' interim coach Luke Walton prepared for perhaps his toughest task of the season late on Friday.
His job - attempting to convince his team that the Denver Nuggets provide a legitimate barrier between the Warriors and National Basketball Association history.
Golden State moved within one win of sole possession of the all-time record for victories to open a season for a reigning champion, using two late three-pointers by small forward Harrison Barnes to secure a hard-fought, 106-94 triumph over the Chicago Bulls for their 14th consecutive win.
The victory, on the heels of wins over Toronto on Tuesday and the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, allowed Golden State to equal the season-opening mark of the 1957-58 Boston Celtics.
The Warriors will seek to better the Celtics' mark tonight in Denver.
"At this point, you do (think about the record)," Warriors power forward Draymond Green admitted. "All you're doing now is thinking about winning one game. That's what we'd be doing anyway."
Golden State's 18th consecutive regular-season win dating back to last year came at the expense of the Bulls. They were the last team to beat the Warriors at home in the regular season, a 113-111 overtime triumph on Jan 27.
"We battled them the whole game," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "If we battle like that, we're going to win a lot of basketball games this year."
The Warriors' triumph resulted from a 17-5 finish after point guard Stephen Curry's third three-pointer broke the game's 17th tie and put Golden State up for good at 92-89 with 5min 26sec to go.
The difference was just 96-92 before Barnes buried the first of his three-pointers with 1:15 to go, making it a seven-point game.
Then, after Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic lost the ball trying to draw a foul on a shot at the other end, Barnes bombed in another three, this one pushing the advantage to 102-92 with just 41.2 seconds left.
"Every single night, when it's a close game and it's time to win, no matter how they've played, these guys step up," Walton said. "When it's winning time, it's incredible how well our guys rise to the occasion and bring home the win."
Curry, despite missing eight of his 11 three-point attempts, had 27 points to lead the Warriors, who improved to 8-0 at home this season and 26-0 in regular-season games since the Bulls' last visit.
Barnes hit three of his six three-point attempts on a 20-point night. He also tied Green for the team lead with nine rebounds.
"It's a motivational tool for us," Warriors back-up Shaun Livingston said of the season-opening streak.
"For us, it's something special. It's history. We can mark our place."
Guard Jimmy Butler had a game-high 28 points for the Bulls (8-4).