SU­PER­STARS ALIGN

WAR­RIORS Du­rant, Thomp­son, Curry de­liver in clutch in tense win over Heat

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Mark Med­ina mme­d­[email protected]­yare­anews­group.com

OAK­LAND >> The War­riors fin­ished with a 120-118 vic­tory over the Mi­ami Heat on Sun­day at Or­a­cle for pri­mar­ily the same rea­son they have won two con­sec­u­tive NBA cham­pi­onships.

Kevin Du­rant, Klay Thomp­son and Stephen Curry are re­ally good at play­ing bas­ket­ball. Du­rant scored 39 points on 16-of-24 shoot­ing, de­spite go­ing only 1 of 7 from dis­tance. Thomp­son had 29 points on a 11-of-21 clip over­all and 6-of-13 mark from the perime­ter. Curry added 25 points while go­ing 9 of 18 from the field and 5 of 10 from dis­tance.

Tech­ni­cally, De­Mar­cus Cousins made a pair of foul shots to give the War­riors a 120-118 lead with 5.4 sec­onds left. Then, Heat guard Dion Waiters missed a 28-footer at the buzzer. But the War­riors (40-15) col­lected their 15th win out of the past 16 games mostly by lean­ing on their top scor­ers.

Af­ter the War­riors com­mit­ted

two costly turnovers. Du­rant drilled his first 3 of the night to tie the game at 118 with 44 sec­onds left. Though Curry went 1-of-4 from the field in the first quar­ter, he went 8 of 14 the rest of the way. And af­ter al­low­ing Du­rant and Curry to han­dle most of the work­load through the first three quar­ters, Thomp­son scored 14 fourth-quar­ter points.

The War­riors achieved this of­fen­sive utopia by en­sur­ing bal­ance in shot at­tempts to Du­rant (24), Thomp­son (21).

The Heat (25-29) fea­tured Josh Richard­son (37), Waiters (24), Jus­tise Winslow (22) and Dwyane Wade (10) log­ging dou­ble fig­ures. They com­bined to go 18 of 43 from 3-point range.

• War­riors veteran re­serve An­dre Iguo­dala missed Sun­day’s game be­cause of left ham-

string tight­ness.

War­riors coach Steve Kerr said that Iguo­dala’s ham­string “flared up” toward end of the Fri­day’s win in Phoenix.

“He felt a lit­tle tweak in there,” Kerr said. “So we’re go­ing to play it safe.”

The War­riors have al­ways been cau­tious with any ail­ments the 34-yearold Iguo­dala has. He has missed a com­bined five games this sea­son be­cause of right hip tight­ness (three), left calf tight­ness (one) and rest (one).

Iguo­dala has av­er­aged 5.8 points on 49.1 per­cent shoot­ing and 3.3 as­sists in 23.4 min­utes through 49 games. He has also logged dou­ble fig­ures in eight games.

• For per­haps the first time in his NBA ca­reer, Dray­mond Green does not feel snubbed over some­thing that im­plies he has not played his best bas­ket­ball.

Green will not com­pete in the NBA All-Star game next Sun­day in Char­lotte, N.C. It marks the end of a three-year run for the War­riors’ in­tense de­fender and ver­sa­tile play­maker be­ing part of the league’s event re­served for its most elite play­ers. Un­like his re­ac­tion to be­ing left off the NBA’s All-De­fen­sive team last sea­son, Green con­sid­ers the All-Star ex­clu­sion as of­fer­ing “zero” source of mo­ti­va­tion.

“I had al­ready planned my va­ca­tion any­way. I haven’t played well enough to make the All-Star team,” Green said. “I know that. I’m ex­cited to go on va­ca­tion with my fam­ily.”

He hopes to have what he called a “men­tal re­set” that he be­lieves will both help him be­come an All­Star player again and help the War­riors win their fourth NBA cham­pi­onship in five years. Af­ter all, the be­gin­ning of Green’s sea­son hardly played out as he en­vi­sioned. He missed a com­bined 15 games this sea­son, in­clud­ing 13 be­cause of an in­jured right toe, an­other to rest and a one-game sus­pen­sion for his well-chron­i­cled ar­gu­ment with Du­rant.

Since then, Kerr has pin­pointed Green as the main rea­son for the War­riors had won 14 of 15 head­ing into Sun­day’s game. Dur­ing that stretch, Green has av­er­aged 8.1 as­sists, 7.1 re­bounds and only 1.9 turnovers.

Be­cause of that, Green ap­peared to have an out- side chance to make the All­Star team along with Du­rant, Curry and Thomp­son for the third con­sec­u­tive year. Kerr ad­mit­ted hav­ing doubts, though.

So did Green. “When you make the All­Star game, it’s based on the sea­son. You can’t find your rhythm and then put two or three weeks or a month of good bas­ket­ball,” Green said. “Guys have been play­ing well all sea­son. So they should be re­warded for that.”

Green ar­gued that should have in­cluded Six­ers guard To­bias Har­ris, who av­er­aged 20.0 points on 49.6 per­cent shoot­ing this sea­son with the Clip­pers be­fore deal­ing him to Philadel­phia as part of a move to clear cap space and col­lect draft picks be­fore Thurs­day’s trade dead­line. Utah Jazz cen­ter Rudy Gobert also be­lieved he should have it too be­cause of the same de­fen­sive pres­ence that won him last sea­son’s De­fen­sive Player of the Year award. So much that he cried about the snub on cam­era.

Green im­me­di­ately poked fun at Gobert in a tweet. Re­cently, Green only elab­o­rated about the dig at Gobert by say­ing “the guy is pas­sion­ate.” Green spoke more in depth, though, on what sparked the tweet in the first place.

“There’s a lot of peo­ple in the world that’s re­ally dumb. They re­ally thought I thought I should’ve made the All-Star game,” Green said. “Maybe peo­ple can’t self eval­u­ate. If peo­ple can’t self eval­u­ate? For some­one who can’t self eval­u­ate them­selves, then they think that, ‘Wow, Dray­mond thinks he’s play­ing amaz­ing.’ Then they think I can’t self eval­u­ate.”

In­stead, Green said he made va­ca­tion plans dur­ing All-Star week­end with enough con­fi­dence that he would not have to can­cel them.

“I just haven’t played well enough. Ob­vi­ously the ma­jor­ity of the time most peo­ple are build­ing their All-Star case, I was kind of build­ing con­di­tion­ing,” Green said. “So it hap­pens. But I’ll be back. I’m not trip­ping. There were a lot of guys play­ing well.”

ARIC CRABB — STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

War­riors cen­ter De­Mar­cus Cousins guards Mi­ami Heat for­ward Bam Ade­bayo dur­ing the first half of Sun­day evening’s thrilling vic­tory.

ARIC CRABB — STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

War­riors for­ward Kevin Du­rant, who led the way with 39 points, is guarded by the Mi­ami Heat’s Jus­tise Winslow.

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