Warriors pull out home win over Heat.
11 straight points down the stretch for Golden State
Basketball is Kevin Durant’s release, one of the few things that calms his mind.
Over the past week-plus, as speculation amplified about his pending free agency this summer, Durant found solace on the hardwood. In the Warriors’ 120-118 win Sunday night over the Miami Heat at Oracle Arena, Durant again made sure that all the outside noise didn’t affect his performance.
“This game was predictably tough, in terms of how they play and their style,” Stephen Curry said. “KD made big shot after big shot down the stretch. I just think we had to be a little bit more methodical about shots we were trying to get.”
After Miami guard Justise Winslow hit a long jumper with 4:14 left to knot the game
107-107, Durant saw his cue, oscillating between forays to the rim, midrange jumpers and 3-pointers. His step-back 29footer with 44.1 seconds remaining evened the score at 118-118.
Moments later, when Durant missed a go-ahead 3-point try, DeMarcus Cousins corralled the offensive rebound, drew contact and hit both foul shots. Dion Waiters’ last-gasp try from beyond the arc clanged off the rim, and Bam Adebayo missed a tip as Golden State escaped with its 15th win in the past 16 games.
Eleven of the Warriors’ final 13 points came from Durant, who finished with a game-high 39. Though he shot 1-for-7 from 3-point range, Durant made up for it by going 15-for-17 inside the arc, including 7-for-8 on midrange jumpers.
During his postgame news conference, Miami head coach Eric Spoelstra was frustrated by two things: He believed that Durant double-dribbled before his final 3-point attempt, and Miami attempted only eight foul shots to Golden State’s 26.
“That should be a violation, and you can't miss those calls,” Spoelstra said of Durant’s double-dribble. “But we had our chances. It was back and forth.”
After taking Saturday off, Golden State held no shootaround Sunday morning ahead of its 5:30 p.m. game. As Durant put it, Miami was “excited to play against us, and we treated it like it was a Sunday walk in the park.”
The Heat raced to a 26-7 lead before the Warriors finally jolted out of their malaise. Curry chipped in 12 of his 25 points in the second quarter. Before Durant took control in crunch time, Klay Thompson scored 14 of his 29 points within the first seven minutes of the fourth.
Golden State was outrebounded 50-36, including 19-7 on the offensive glass, and attempted 21 fewer shots than Miami. However, the Warriors made stops when it mattered most and shot 53.7 percent from the field.
After the game, Draymond Green conceded that the NBA’s dog days have arrived for Golden State. The addition of Cousins last month helped the Warriors guard against the midJanuary doldrums that plague most teams. But now, less than a week before the All-Star break, the Warriors are having a tougher time opening games with energy. Two nights before its rough start against the Heat, Golden State dug a 17point, first-quarter hole at Phoenix.
Perhaps the best remedy for the grind of the NBA season is an immense talent advantage. With Sunday’s win, the Warriors are 8-0 when starting Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Cousins.
No one has been more consistent than Durant, who has scored 20 or more points in 41 of his past 43 games. Not even Wednesday’s postgame news conference, in which he spent three minutes railing against reporters for coverage of his pending free agency, has derailed his season.
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Kerr said. “Unbelievably talented, and he loves the game. … He just loses himself in the game, and I thought he did a good job of that tonight.”
“He’s one of the best players in the world. Unbelievably talented, and he loves the game. … He just loses himself in the game, and I thought he did a good job of that tonight.”
Steve Kerr, Warriors head coach, on forward Kevin Durant
The Warriors’ Kevin Durant shoots over Miami’s Justise Winslow to tie the game at 118.
Klay Thompson gestures after hitting a 3-pointer in the second half, when he scored 20 of his 29 points against the Heat.
The Warriors’ Draymond Green (23) and Shaun Livingston (right) hug Miami’s Dwyane Wade after Golden State’s victory. Wade is expected to retire after the season, his 16th in the NBA.