x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Curry, with 38 points, credits ‘the will to win’ as Warriors snap slump against Trail Blazers

Stephen Curry scored 38 points, dished eight assists and grabbed seven rebounds as Golden State broke a three-game losing streak at home to beat Portland 103-88 on Sunday night.

Stephen Curry is averaging 24.1 points per game for Golden State this season. Matt Strasen / AP
Stephen Curry is averaging 24.1 points per game for Golden State this season. Matt Strasen / AP

OAKLAND, United States // Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson has been pleading with his players to improve their defensive effort and efficiency for most of the last two weeks.

They finally answered his call.

Stephen Curry had 38 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and the Warriors used a smothering defence to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 103-88 on Sunday night.

“Just what the doctor ordered,” Jackson said.

Curry, the Western Conference’s newly elected All-Star starting point guard, shot 13-of-23 from the floor while wearing shiny gold shoes to carry the offensive load. The Warriors did it all on defence together, though, building a 22-point lead midway through the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

Golden State outshot Portland 41.8 per cent to 33.7 per cent and forced 15 turnovers while committing only nine. It was a season low in points and shooting percentage and it tied the largest margin of defeat for the Blazers, who entered averaging an NBA-best 109.5 points.

“Just the will to win,” Curry said. “We understand that’s been one of our problems – just letting teams kind of cake walk around on the offensive end doing whatever they want to do early in the game.”

Damian Lillard had 16 points and four assists, and Wesley Matthews scored 21 for the Blazers, who had a quick turnaround after beating Minnesota in Portland on Saturday night.

The Blazers had not been held below 40 per cent shooting all season. The defeat equalled a 116-101 loss to Houston on November 5 for Portland’s most lopsided margin.

“That was a rough game,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “The first half both teams played pretty well, but the second half we didn’t have much going at the offensive end. Golden State did a nice job with its defence. It was just one of those nights where we just didn’t have enough at the offensive end.”

David Lee added 17 points and 12 rebounds while playing with a sprained left shoulder, and Klay Thompson scored 17 for a Warriors team that had lost three straight at home.

Jackson has been waiting for his team to correct their defensive deficiencies of late, even after victories. Golden State allowed an average of 92.8 points during a 10-game winning streak before dropping five of their last seven overall, allowing 108.4 points in those contests, including an average of 115 in the five losses.

The Warriors never let the Blazers get comfortable. LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 11 rebounds and 10 points on 2-of-14 shooting, didn’t score until 2:18 remained in the second quarter.

“Just one of those nights where I couldn’t get going and I didn’t find a rhythm,” Aldridge said.

And the only time Aldridge started to get going, the Warriors responded.

Andrew Bogut got into a skirmish with Aldridge after the whistle in the third quarter, then Aldridge tossed the ball at the Warriors centre. Officials called a technical foul on both players.

The Warriors responded with a 16-2 run, with Curry connecting from outside and Lee cleaning up on the inside. Golden State held a 76-67 lead entering the fourth quarter, when they quickly turned the game into a rout.

“What I like is we paid attention to detail,” Jackson said. “We didn’t have any game-plan breakdown. We battled. We competed. We made multiple-effort plays and we continued it all night long.”

Golden State started the final quarter on a 12-2 run to take control. Lee’s layup put the Warriors up 91-69 with 7:18 remaining, leaving little drama late.

Portland pulled to 94-85 on Matthews’ free throws with 2:56 to play. Curry then connected on a jumper and a three-pointer sandwiched around a free throw by Lillard to send most of the sellout crowd of 19,596 heading to the exits early – and happy.

Curry, who doesn’t usually guard opposing point guards, checked Lillard most of the game and never let the Oakland native find his stroke.

“We can score the ball, but it stinks to come in the locker room and you see everybody had big nights, we just isolate the offensive end but we end up losing and it’s all for nothing,” Curry said. “Games like this when you get a win and figure out how to close it out and get stops, it makes what we can do as a team on the offensive end that much more special.”

OTHER SUNDAY RESULTS

Heat 113, Spurs 101

In a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals, guard Dwyane Wade returned from the injured list and the Miami Heat easily defeated the San Antonio Spurs.

Heat forwards Chris Bosh (24 points) and LeBron James (18 points) starred as Miami improved their home record to 19-3.

Wade, who had missed four straight games due to knee soreness, came off the bench for the first time since 2008 and had eight points for Miami (32-12).

San Antonio (33-11) were led by centre Tim Duncan, who had 23 points.

Mavericks 116, Pistons 106

Dirk Nowitzki scored 28 points to help Dallas defeat the Detroit Pistons.

The Mavericks (26-20) snapped a two-game losing streak while the Pistons (17-27) have lost four straight.

Detroit guard Brandon Jennings paced the visitors with 26 points.

Knicks 110, Lakers 103

Carmelo Anthony followed up his record-breaking scoring performance with 35 points as the New York Knicks beat the Los Angeles Lakers.

Anthony scored a Madison Square Garden record 62 against Charlotte on Friday. His encore helped New York (17-27) earn their second win in a row immediately following a five-game losing streak.

The Lakers (16-29) received a team-high 24 points from guard Jodie Meeks, who shot 8-for-13 overall and 6-for-8 from three-point range.

Pelicans 100, Magic 92

Tyreke Evans scored 13 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter and forward Anthony Davis scored 22 points, grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds and blocked seven shots to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to victory.

The Pelicans (18-25), who have won three of their last four games, iced the game with a 9-4 run. The Magic (12-33), who lost their eighth consecutive road game, were led by Arron Afflalo with a game-high 25 points.

Suns 99, Cavaliers 90

Markieff Morris came off the bench to score 27 points and grab 15 rebounds, leading the Phoenix Suns to a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Goran Dragic added 15 points for Phoenix (25-18).

All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving had a team-high 24 points and a game-high nine assists for the Cavaliers (16-28).

Nets 85, Celtics 79

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett played through an emotional return to Boston, scoring six points apiece but getting enough help from their Brooklyn teammates for the Nets to hold off the Celtics.

Cornerstones of Boston’s 2008 NBA championship team, Pierce and Garnett were traded to the Nets (20-22) in the off-season. Both players were cheered and honoured during the night.

Boston’s (15-31) Rajon Rondo finished with 13 points, eight assists and eight rebounds against his former teammates.

Nuggets 125, Kings 117

Ty Lawson scored a game-high 27 points to lead six Nuggets in double figures, and Denver ran past the Sacramento Kings.

Lawson scored 20 points in the second half and combined with Russian centre Timofey Mozgov to score every Denver point during a 14-8 third-quarter run that gave the Nuggets (22-21) the lead for good.

Isaiah Thomas scored 22 points to lead the Kings (15-28), who played without leading scorers DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay for the second consecutive game.