Aggressive Curry fuels Warriors’ win over Nets
NEW YORK — With Kevin Durant sitting out, Stephen Curry felt a need to be more aggressive than usual.
It resulted in his most productive showing of the season but also forced the Golden State Warriors’ star guard to watch the final three minutes from the bench.
Curry scored a season-high 39 points to go along with 11 rebounds and seven assists before fouling out with three minutes remaining as the Warriors nearly blew a 28-point lead before holding on for a 118-111 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.
Durant was ruled out Sunday morning with a sprained left ankle, and he missed a game for the second time this season. Without Durant’s 24.9 points per game on the floor, Curry produced his best game of the year before fouling out for the 11th time in the regular season.
“It was a good learning experience for him,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I thought, obviously, he was brilliant in terms of his scoring and shot-making. I thought his second half, he got a little wild.”
Despite his big game, Curry also committed a season-high seven turnovers. Two occurred on offensive fouls in the second half as the Warriors gradually let the Nets back in the game after taking a double-digit late in the first quarter and a 28-point lead early in the third.
Curry fouled out with three minutes left when he was called for a charge on Quincy Acy. He picked up his fifth foul on a charge with seven seconds left in the third.
“You’d love to have those plays back, but I loved the aggressiveness I had on those possessions, and you don’t like to foul out, but it was kind of how I tried to bring that intensity the whole game,” said Curry, who last fouled out Dec. 11 vs. the Houston Rockets. “Just the way it ended was a little different than normal foul trouble.”
Curry finished with his 137th regular-season 30-point game. He shot 14 of 24 from the floor and hit four 3-pointers. Curry also finished with his 19th point/rebound double-double and his 10th career game with 30 points and 10 rebounds.
Golden State held a 107-102 lead when Curry headed to the bench. The Nets cut it to four on a free throw by DeMarre Carroll on the next possession, but a dunk by Shaun Livingston and two baskets by Klay Thompson pushed the lead to 114-106 with 1:29 left.
Brooklyn cut to five on a 3-pointer by Allan Crabbe but could not get any closer, and the Warriors (13-4) went to the line to secure their eighth win in nine games.
“We had to withstand their run, and luckily we did with good execution in the last few minutes after Steph Curry went out,” Kerr said.
Thompson added 23 points and 10 rebounds for his third career-double as Golden State avoided blowing the largest lead in the NBA this season. Thompson also hit a 3-pointer for the 71st straight game.
Omri Casspi started for Durant and contributed 12 points and eight rebounds while reserve Andre Iguodala chipped in 12 as the Warriors shot 51.1 percent overall.
Crabbe scored 20 of his 25 points after the Nets faced a 64-42 halftime deficit. Spencer Dinwiddie added 21 and eight assists as Brooklyn (6-10) shot 35.8 percent and lost for the eighth time in 11 games.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (16 points, 12 rebounds) and Carroll (15 points, 11 rebounds) each had double-doubles for Brooklyn, which scored 42 points in the third quarter, outscored Golden State 69-54 after halftime and took 26 of its 39 free throws in the second half.
“I really can’t explain what happened in the first half, why we came out so spiritless and (with) lack of energy,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Granted, great team and respect. I thought we were kind of frozen by the moment.”
Before the Nets nearly completed their comeback, Golden State’s first half resembled much of its second half in a Saturday rally from a 24-point deficit at Philadelphia. Curry scored 13 points in the first quarter Sunday, 22 by halftime and was up to 26 points when his 19-footer put the Warriors in front 78-50 with 8:27 left in the third.
“I think we came out and they made some shots and we didn’t,” Dinwiddie said. “We started kind of playing from behind for a little bit, and it kind of just got ahold of us for a second.”
NOTES: Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he thought F Kevin Durant sprained his left ankle bumping into C Joel Embiid during the first quarter of Golden State’s 124-116 win at Philadelphia on Saturday. Durant told Kerr he wasn’t sure it happened at that point. ... In an odd scheduling twist, the Nets are visiting Cleveland in their next game after facing the Warriors for the second straight season. The Nets visit Cleveland on Wednesday. Last season, Brooklyn went there on the second night of a back-to-back and lost by 20. ... Brooklyn F Trevor Booker started at center for the third straight game but sprained his left ankle in the first half. He wound up scoreless in nine minutes.