The Golden State Warriors spent most of the second half Monday night trying to break free from the Miami Heat.
The defending NBA champions would stretch it to double-digits before Miami would come storming back to make it a game again. The Warriors finally got the separation they sought, but it wasn’t until reigning MVP Stephen Curry sunk the dagger, a three-point shot with 26.9 left.
Behind Curry’s 31 points and plenty of help from the other members of Golden State’s Big 3 – Draymond Green (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Klay Thompson (17 points, 7 rebounds) – the Warriors held off a strong overall performance from Miami to win its 36th consecutive regular season home game, 111-103, at Oracle Arena.
“If we compete this way, good things will happen,” said Dwyane Wade, who shook off a strained left shoulder and led Miami with 20 points and a season-high 11 assists. “And I think that’s the thing with this team – what we’re trying to show each other, what the leaders are trying to make sure we say to guys that haven’t been in this position before. Just compete in this league and give yourself a chance and we have a good enough team we can win certain ballgames.
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“So hopefully we can do that for the rest of the road trip. Go into these buildings, compete and give ourselves a chance and we’ll be fine.”
Golden State (36-2) led by as many as 13 points after Curry made his the third of his four three-pointers with 4:52 remaining. But Miami (22-16) twice trimmed the deficit to six points including with 45.5 seconds left on a pair of Wade free throws before Curry’s clincher.
Wade led six Heat scorers in double figures. Chris Bosh added 15 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Gerald Green had 15 points off the bench and Luol Deng had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson, who grew up in the Bay Area, finished with13 points each.
Hassan Whiteside missed his second game this season with discomfort in his right knee and the Heat hardly missed him. In fact, with the sleeker Bosh in the middle, the Heat seemed better prepared to handle Golden State’s fast-paced, up-and-down style.
Golden State, the best offensive team in the NBA, shot 47.7 percent and was only 7 of 23 from beyond the three-point line. But they pulled away from the Heat behind their fast break time and time again. Whenever Wade missed on a drive to the basket or Dragic or someone else argued with officials over a call that wasn’t made, the Warriors got out on the break and scored.
“Right out of the gate they just ran for some easy ones in the third quarter,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “If you argue a call or you if you fall down, if it’s a numbers situation, they have a way of making you pay for one of those mistakes.”
With Whiteside out, rookie Justise Winslow earned his first start and guarded Klay Thompson early. Thompson had four points at the half, but picked it up in the second half.
Golden State led 56-54 at the half, but there was a lot to like for the Heat over the first two quarters.
Miami turned the ball over just twice and had 17 assists on its first 22 baskets. The Warriors, who got 18 first-half points from Curry, shot only 46.3 percent and were 2 of 9 from three-point range. Wade had 12 points and six assists and Bosh had 13 points and five rebounds.
Bosh and Wade didn’t score a point in the third quarter. Twice the Warriors expanded their lead to 10 points on Miami in the quarter and twice the Heat rallied including with a 7-0 run to close the quarter.
But the Warriors took control back early in the fourth. With Dragic, Udonis Haslem, Green and rookies Josh Richardson and Winslow on the floor, Golden State opened the quarter on a 8-2 run behind six points from Marreese Speights.
“They’re very unselfish,” Bosh said. “They’re pretty much like the Spurs. If you make one mistake they’re hitting guys at the perfect time. They’re either being aggressive or putting it on the floor and everybody one through five is a playmaker. That makes it super tough.
“We can get better. I’m glad we were able to see all these situations. We just have to really keep going have the mental toughness, the concentration and effort we had tonight every night.”
The Heat, now 1-2 on the road trip, continues its six-game West Coast trip Wednesday against the Clippers.