The Union Democrat

Warriors make statement with win over Nets

- By EVAN WEBECK

NEW YORK — The last time Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were at the center of the discussion of possible championsh­ip contenders, it was a foregone conclusion. The NBA’S two most prolific scorers, after all, were on the same team.

Two years later, Curry and Durant again top the list of the league’s scoring leaders but, now, for separate teams that could very well be the last two standing come June. On this Tuesday night in November, however, they offered a preview of a possible Finals series in a 117-99 Warriors win that had all the intensity of a heavyweigh­t title bout.

Yet, by the end of it, Golden State had turned a potential playoff preview into an early season statement. After taking their first loss in eight games to start the road trip, a bounce-back win Tuesday had been all but decided by the end of the third quarter.

Curry wowed the Brooklyn crowd with a gamehigh 37 points, to the point that half the arena was on their feet anytime Curry touched the ball in the fourth quarter, after Golden State built its commanding lead largely without their star.

Golden State outscored the Nets 35-18 in a signature post-intermissi­on performanc­e, turning a fivepoint halftime lead into 22 by the start of the final period, however much of it

came without Curry, who sat the final seven minutes of the period after picking up his fourth personal foul.

With four combined NBA MVPS and nine scoring titles sharing the floor at Barclays Center, the nationally televised Tuesday night showdown had all the star power of a Finals matchup.

Curry and Durant went blow for blow through the first half, but both took a backseat after halftime, for different reasons.

Curry took Blake Griffin to the ground battling for a loose ball and picked up his fourth personal foul at the 7:00 mark of the third quarter, forcing him to the bench until the start of the fourth quarter. With their star sitting, the Warriors still managed to extend their lead by seven more points.

Look no further than his counterpar­t for a reason why.

Durant attempted eight shots in the third quarter and missed them all. All 17 points the Warriors' added to pad their lead came with him on the floor. He finished -24 for the game and only scored three points — all on foul shots — after halftime. James Harden, the other former MVP on the floor, couldn't carry the Nets by himself but finished with a team-high 24.

Draymond Green, not an MVP but a defensive player of the year, was tasked with defending Durant. The two have a little history.

Green and Durant were yapping at times, and both got the best of each other on different occasions. Durant scored an efficient 12 first-half points but turned the ball over a couple of times when Green swatted his pass attempts.

Then Golden State's defense locked down.

The Warriors' third-quarter run couldn't have been set up any better heading into halftime.

Andrew Wiggins gave Golden State a chance at a two-for-one with a 3-pointer with 25.6 seconds left in the half and was the one to capitalize on it with another bucket from distance as the buzzer sounded, a six-point swing that gave the Warriors a 63-58 lead at intermissi­on.

However, like Curry, Wiggins was forced to the bench for much of the second half due to foul trouble. He picked up his fourth personal a minute and half before Curry did.

Within moments of his return in the fourth quarter, Curry had the crowd on their feet with his theatrics. The home fans had already lost their investment, anyway.

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