Golden State Warriors shrug off Miami Heat's challenge

By Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange   |   Jan. 11, 2017 at 9:05 AM
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- When it comes to his next contract negotiation, or perhaps future consideration as a Most Valuable Player candidate, there is one stat Golden State shooting guard Klay Thompson won't want to cite.

The Warriors won the past six games he missed.

Golden State ran that streak to a half-dozen over the past three seasons Tuesday night when point guard Stephen Curry compiled 24 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in a hard-fought, 107-95 victory over the road-weary and injury-plagued Miami Heat.

"It was a little different with certain possessions," Curry said of playing without his All-Star sidekick. "We just had to be patient -- let the game kind of come to us, and over the course of 48 minutes, just figure it out. That's kind of what happened."

Kevin Durant chipped in with a game-high-tying 28 points as the Warriors (33-6) were able to overcome Heat center Hassan Whiteside's 28 points and 20 rebounds. Golden State recorded a fifth straight win over Miami.

"You have to be able to take advantage," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the Warriors countering Whiteside with a smaller lineup. "These are the expectations we have for him. He's shown it many times this year. When he plays at an extremely high level, we're a different basketball team."

Playing for the fifth time on a six-game trip, the Heat led by as many as 10 points in the first half and were up 54-53 at halftime on the strength of a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double by Whiteside in the first 24 minutes.

However, Durant opened the third period with a 3-pointer, and Golden State never trailed again, although the Heat wouldn't go away.

"I give them a lot of credit. They play hard every possession," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of the Heat. "Hassan Whiteside is a handful. They are a good team ... better than their record shows."

Down 13 early in the fourth quarter, the Heat got four hoops from Whiteside and a 3-pointer from backup James Johnson in a 14-4 burst that closed the gap to 85-82 with 6:35 to go.

Golden State made the last push, however, getting 2- and 3-point hoops from reserve guard Ian Clark to extend the margin, and then 2- and 3-pointers from Curry inside 2:00 to pull away to 102-89.

Clark, who saw 22 minutes of action in part because Thompson wasn't available due to an illness, had 10 points.

"He's a huge part of what we do," Durant said of Thompson. "We'd love to have him out there. Hopefully he's rested up and ready for the next game."

The absence was just Thompson's ninth in the past five seasons. The Warriors lost the first three times without him, but they since figured out a winning formula.

Draymond Green contributed 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Warriors, who have won two in a row since blowing a 24-point lead in a home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.

The Warriors shot 45.3 percent from the field and 40.7 percent on threes, hitting 11 of 27 from beyond the arc.

Twelve of Curry's points came on 4-for-11 3-point shooting.

Whiteside connected on 13 of his 17 shots for the Heat (11-29), who complete their 11-day trip Friday night at Milwaukee.

The 20-20 game was the fifth of his career, and the first time he scored as many as 28 points in any such game. He now has 26 double-doubles in Miami's 40 games this season.

"They don't have many weaknesses," Whiteside said of the Warriors. "I'm going to exploit rebounding. My teammates really helped me tonight throwing lobs. Dion (Waiters) and James (Johnson) made it easy for me."

Tyler Johnson had 18 points, Goran Dragic 17 and James Johnson 14 for the Heat, who have lost four of five to start the trip.

Miami shot 42.7 percent from the field but misfired on 24 of its 30 3-point attempts.

NOTES:

-- Despite Miami C Hassan Whiteside's 20-rebound game, the Warriors outrebounded the Heat 48-45. Golden State is now 20-0 this season when outrebounding the opponent.

-- The Warriors improved to 11-1 against Eastern Conference teams this season.

-- PG Stephen Curry and SF Kevin Durant are the only Warriors to have played all 39 games.

-- The Heat, meanwhile, lead the league with 157 games missed due to injury or illness.

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