Warriors step up to win as Green sits out

OAKLAND (California) • The last time Draymond Green missed a game, the Golden State Warriors began a tailspin into a runner-up finish in the NBA Finals.

This time, they are streaking in the other direction.

Stephen Curry poured in 17 of his game-high 34 points in the third quarter on Saturday as the Warriors, finally adjusting to the absence of Green, broke open a close game en route to a 115-102 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In a game between two teams that also played the night before, the Warriors held the Timberwolves to a total of 40 points in the middle two periods, erasing an early deficit and paving the way for an 11th consecutive victory.

The Golden State win came without Green, who sprained his left ankle in Friday's road victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

"You just have to do it a different way," Curry said of winning without Green. "As the game went on, (the offensive flow) seemed very, very similar to the way we're used to playing. It was good to see that."

Minnesota, who won at Phoenix on Friday night, were within 80-71 with 2min 30sec left in the third period before Curry single-handedly outscored the visitors 10-2 to end the quarter, propelling Golden State to a commanding 90-73 lead.

Curry hit four consecutive shots during the flurry, including a pair of three-pointers.

"We were pretty solid defensively most of the night," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of the difference in the game. "Steph went nuts and did his thing."

The reigning NBA Most Valuable Player had four three-pointers in his sixth 30-point game of the season.

"For a lot of guys, you would say that maybe those weren't good (shots)," Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said of Curry's long-range assortment. "For Curry, those are great shots. I don't know how to defend that."

Curry also led the Warriors with six assists on a night when they totalled 25 and thus had their streak of 10 straight games with at least 30 snapped. The run equalled the second-longest in NBA history.

"Mainly, it was just not having Draymond out there," Kerr said of the fewer-than-usual assists during the game.

"It changed our ball movement and the force that we played with. He's handling the ball so often for us that you take him out of there, it changes things."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2016, with the headline 'Warriors step up to win as Green sits out'. Print Edition | Subscribe