Heat put up close fight, come up short against NBA-best Warriors
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Without Klay Thompson and all he does to keep a defense honest, the Golden State Warriors struggled to produce the zippy passing that regularly leads to open perimeter looks and easy baskets in the paint.
It all came together in the closing minutes — just in time.
Stephen Curry had 24 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, Kevin Durant added 28 points and Golden State finished in its typical, impressive fashion to beat the Miami Heat 107-95 on Tuesday night in another victory when the Warriors were hardly at their best.
Durant also had eight rebounds and Draymond Green contributed 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists with no fouls in the Warriors’ fifth straight win against the Heat and eighth in 10, including three in a row at home.
“I was rushing early on, I rushed five shots,” said Durant, who missed his first five attempts. “My first five shots were terrible looks. It was just bad to watch, for sure. I settled in and told myself I don’t have to make up for Klay being out.”
Thompson had the night off for rest after he played through illness the past two games. Coach Steve Kerr said he was worn down — and Golden State sure missed him.
“I thought it took us a while,” Kerr said. “We’re so used to Klay running off screens, and he’s such a threat, he puts so much pressure on the defense with his shooting, so without him, it was a different feel, different look.”
Hassan Whiteside had 28 points and 20 rebounds for the Heat, who were outscored 26-14 in the third quarter after leading 54-53 at halftime.
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Rookie Patrick McCaw made his first career start in Thompson’s place and contributed a key 3-pointer in the third that put the Warriors ahead 67-60.
While they finished with 28 assists, that lively passing game the Warriors have with Thompson on the court wasn’t quite as crisp — though one pretty sequence of several quick touches led to Ian Clark’s key 3 on a pass from Andre Iguodala with 5:44 to go. Iguodala later dished to Clark again for a layup.
“They just run and bodies are just moving,” Miami’s Dion Waiters said. “You look up and you think you have a stop here, a guy comes from here, he’s swinging it.”
Curry was 8-for-21 shooting and hit just 4 of 11 3-pointers as the Warriors shot 11 for 27 from beyond the arc and 45.3 percent overall. The two-time reigning NBA MVP fell short of a fourth straight game with 30 or more points.
Golden State, which played its lone road game in 10 on Sunday with a bus trip to nearby Sacramento, again struggled to find an offensive flow while missing everything from layups to open 3s during stretches.
Miami lost its third straight game and dropped to 1-4 on this six-game trip as coach Erik Spoelstra works to help his team find “our identity on both ends of the court and doing it more consistently.”
Whiteside’s alley-oop dunk with 7:15 remaining pulled the Heat within 85-80 and forced a Warriors timeout. Tyler Johnson scored to make it a three-point game before the Warriors closed it out.
Kerr was asked about visiting the White House with Donald Trump as President if the Warriors were to win a championship.
“I certainly hope that we have to have that decision to make next year,” he said. “I’ll move on to the next question.”
Heat: Whiteside has eight or more rebounds in a career-high and franchise-best 50 straight games. … The Heat have held opponents below 50 percent from the field in 33 of 40 games. … Luke Babbitt returned after sitting out against the Clippers on Sunday with an illness, but he was limited in 18 minutes.
Warriors: Clark notched his eighth game scoring in double figures. … Golden State outscored Miami 21-9 on fast-break points in the first half. … Since 2014-15, Golden State is 33-2 at home against the Eastern Conference and 5-0 this season.
Heat: At Milwaukee on Friday night to wrap up this trip after beating the Bucks 96-73 on Nov. 17. The Warriors visit Miami on Jan. 23.
Warriors: Host Detroit on Thursday night for the middle game of a three-game home stretch vs. Eastern Conference opponents, including Monday’s matchup against LeBron James and the champion Cavaliers.