EditorsNote: adds Curry quote
Stephen Curry poured in 31 of his season-high 49 points in the second half Saturday night, including consecutive hoops to break a late tie, rallying the Golden State Warriors to a 109-105 victory over the Boston Celtics in a nationally televised showdown of conference leaders in Oakland, Calif.
Golden State avenged a 92-88 loss in Boston in November and prevented the Celtics from becoming the first team in the Steve Kerr coaching era to sweep a season series from the Warriors.
The Warriors and Celtics have split their season series each of the past three seasons. The win allowed Golden State (40-10) to go five games ahead of Boston (35-15) in their three-team duel with the Houston Rockets (34-13) for the best record in the NBA.
Making their third stop on a four-game Western swing, the Celtics took a 95-94 lead on a Jaylen Brown interior move with 3:26 to play before Kevin Durant countered with one free throw to produce the game’s final tie at 95-all.
Curry then gave the Warriors the lead for good with a 3-pointer at the 1:43 mark, and followed that with a layup that created a five-point gap with 1:28 to go.
Boston closed within one on a 3-pointer by Terry Rozier with 7.7 seconds left before Curry made four straight free throws to keep the Celtics at arm’s length.
The Warriors trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half and 54-50 at halftime before Curry, hitting four consecutive 3-pointers, almost single-handedly outscored the Celtics in his 18-point third quarter. Golden State posted a 30-19 edge in the period to go up 80-73 entering the fourth.
Curry’s 49 points came on 16-of-24 shooting and 8-of-13 accuracy from 3-point range.
Durant finished with 20 points and Draymond Green recorded a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double for the Warriors, who completed a three-game home sweep of the New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston over the course of five days.
The Warriors outshot the Celtics 45.2 percent to 43.5 percent en route to topping 100 points for the 16th straight game.
Boston’s Kyrie Irving, who had averaged 30 points in his previous three games, went for 37 on 5-for-6 shooting from 3-point range and 13-for-18 accuracy overall.
Curry said postgame of ESPN of facing off with Irving, “We bring the best out of each other. The battles are always fun. He’s an amazing and talented player that can do some crazy things on the floor.
“We had to play good defense tonight. (That’s what the) NBA’s all about. Every night, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Brown totaled 20 points and Al Horford, returning from a concussion, notched a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double for the Celtics. Boston was without key reserve Marcus Smart (laceration on right hand).
Riding the strength of 11 field goals in their first 14 shots, the Celtics didn’t trail until the second minute of the third quarter.
Irving had 19 points and Brown 14 in the first half, during which Boston went up by as many as 10 points on three occasions before settling for a four-point advantage at the break.
—Field Level Media