By Jerry Feitelberg
Still smarting after a one-point loss at the hands of the reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day, the Golden State Warriors (28-6) returned home to face the second-best team in the East, the Toronto Raptors (22-9). Trying to establish themselves as an elite team, the Raptors trailed by as few as five points in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors’ shot-blocking defense proved too much for Toronto in a 121-111 Golden State win.
The Warriors ran the Raptors off the court in the first quarter. The Warriors scored 42 points and held Toronto to just 17. Klay Thompson led the Dubs with 12, but Steph Curry and Kevin Durant also contributed. Toronto won the second quarter as they closed the gap to just five trailing 56-51. The Raptors outscored the Dubs 21-6 in the first eight minutes of play but Golden State was able to get back on track as they increased the lead to 17 at the end of the first half 72-55. The Warriors shot a blistering 74.4% from the field in the half. Toronto was held to just 37%. Toronto, however, took fifteen more shots than the Dubs to stay close. Demar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and Terrence Ross, off the bench, scored 49 of Toronto’s 55 points.
The teams played even in the third quarter as Golden State maintained its 17 point lead. The play of the game came when Steph Curry made a behind the back pass to Klay Thompson. Thompson then made a three-point shot from the corner that lit up the crowd. The fourth quarter was an entirely different story. The Raptors played defense and held the Warriors to just 17 points in the quarter. The Dubs led Cleveland by 14, and they blew the lead and lost. The Dubs must have been thinking it was deja vu all over again when the woke up to play great defense and regrouped after Toronto closed to within five 114-109 with 3:01 left in the game. The Dubs held them at bay and won by ten 121-111.
Game Notes- The star of the night was Kevin Durant. Durant scored 22 points but was a monster on defense as he had 17 rebounds and five blocked shots. Draymond Green had a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists to go along with six rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Klay had 21 and Steph led the team with 28. Steph had 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Ian Clark with 9, Andre Iguodala added 11 and Zaza Pachulia knocked down 8. The Warriors had 33 assists in the game to go along with 4 steals and 10 blocks. The one negative was the 20 turnovers that allowed the Raptors to stay close. The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan’s 29, Kyle Lowry’s 27 points and 11 assists, DeMarre Carroll’s 13 and Terrence Ross’ 24. The Warriors extended their NBA record to 119 consecutive games without back to back losses.
The Warriors improve to 28-5 while Toronto drops to 22-9. After the game, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he thought this about the game:”between the turnovers and offensive rebounds, it was a strange first half and a strange game overall.” He said “there was a lot of energy to start the game’ and that “we needed it as we couldn’t sustain the pace.” Rhen asked about the 20 turnovers, Kerr said”twenty was too many. We gotta clean that up.” He thought Steph was great:”he had the ball quite a bit. Had a great game.” However, Kerr was not happy that the game nearly got out of hand and said “we had a lot of bad possessions down the stretch. It could have been worse but as someone once said: “all’s well that ends well.”
The Warriors play the Dallas Mavericks Friday night at Oracle Arena. Former Warriors Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut will be aiming to upset their ex-mates on Friday. Game time will be at 7:30 pm.