Basketball: Golden State Warriors dialled in for comeback after poor half

The Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant shielding the ball from the Brooklyn Nets' Jeremy Lin during their 117-101 comeback win on Thursday. Durant led the Warriors with 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
The Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant shielding the ball from the Brooklyn Nets' Jeremy Lin during their 117-101 comeback win on Thursday. Durant led the Warriors with 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • In the first half, the Golden State Warriors were checking their phones and not focusing on their attention to detail on defence.

That was what it felt like to their coach Steve Kerr, as he described the difference in how the Warriors concentrated on their defence in the second half.

"Transition defence was horrible in the first half," Kerr said.

"Just our overall attention span was bad. We struggled in the first half but locked in in the second half. Guys put their phones down and started to defend, so that was good."

Kevin Durant scored 26 points as Golden State clamped down defensively in the second half and rallied from a 16-point deficit to earn a 117-101 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Thursday.

"Just our energy level," he said of the differences in the defence. "We played with a little more force to start the second half."

Klay Thompson added 23 points for the Warriors (26-4) and Stephen Curry contributed 15 points despite shooting six of 19, including just three of 13 from three- point range. Thompson and Curry also combined for nine steals.

Golden State's Zaza Pachulia contributed 15 points and 14 rebounds. Durant added nine boards and seven assists.

Brook Lopez scored 23 of his 28 points in the first half for struggling Brooklyn (7-21), who lost their fourth straight game.

Sean Kilpatrick added 14 and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson contributed 13 for the Nets.

"I thought they turned up their intensity, they turned up their energy," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. "They were really aggressive on the defensive end and we have to do a better job of protecting the ball."

At the American Airlines Arena, Shaquille O'Neal fulfilled a promise in 2006 to bring the Miami Heat their first NBA championship, and on Thursday, the Heat thanked their former star centre by retiring his No. 32 jersey.

The jersey was lifted to the rafters in an emotional but sometimes light-hearted half-time ceremony, as the Heat rallied from a 19-point second-quarter deficit to beat another of O'Neal's former teams, the Los Angeles Lakers, 115-107 and snap a three-game losing skid.

O'Neal thanked Heat boss Pat Riley as well as his team-mates, especially star guard Dwyane Wade, who became the other half of the club's one-two scoring punch.

"When you win championships, it becomes contagious. I felt like I still had a lot to give, I just needed another piece. D-Wade was that piece," O'Neal said.

"It was already his team so I wasn't going to redecorate the Christmas tree."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra added that Miami got an emotional lift from listening to Shaq's acceptance speech.

"It was like going down memory lane. It felt like 2006," he said.

"Shaq engaged the entire crowd with incredible class."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

DETROIT V GOLDEN STATE

Singtel TV Ch110, 8.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2016, with the headline 'Warriors dialled in for comeback after poor half'. Print Edition | Subscribe