Amid scoring highlights, defense keeps Warriors rolling
LOS ANGELES, USA – The Golden State Warriors may have been known to pour in the points, but coach Steve Kerr would rather talk about his team’s rock solid defense this time.
"I was really proud of our defensive effort," said Kerr after the two-time defending champion Warriors won their seventh straight with a 116-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, November 2 (Saturday, November 3, Manila time).
"I thought our fourth-quarter defense was tremendous."
Trailing after 3 quarters, the Warriors turned the game around by outscoring the Timberwolves, 33-12, in the final 12 minutes.
But what made Kerr proud was how they held down Minnesota to just a dozen points in the 4th quarter after an incredible start that even saw the Timberwolves committing just one turnover in the first 3 quarters.
Of course, there's still no discounting the Warriors' scoring firepower as Durant delivered 33 points and 13 rebounds and Curry contributed 28 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.
Klay Thompson also scored 22 points and hit consecutive three-pointers 50 seconds apart early in the 4th quarter to give Golden State a 91-89 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
Andrew Wiggins scored a team-high 22 points for the Timberwolves, who were also outrebounded 61-39.
Kevin Durant pours in 33 PTS to guide the @warriors to the win and a 9-1 record!#DubNation 116 | #AllEyesNorth 99— NBA (@NBA) November 3, 2018
Steph Curry: 28 PTS, 9 REB, 7 AST
Klay Thompson: 22 PTS, 4 3PM
Draymond Green: 9 PTS, 11 AST, 9 REB, 3 BLK pic.twitter.com/vu0Mfb8Igi
Derrick Rose played 5 minutes in the first quarter and scored 3 points but then came out of the game with a sore ankle.
The injury came two nights after the 2011 MVP scored a career-high 50 points in a victory against Utah. He will be looked at by team doctors on Saturday.
Before the game, Kerr said injured DeMarcus Cousins is still a long way from returning.
"I love how far he's come, but I don't want people to get the idea that he's getting close to coming back," Kerr said. "It's still going to be some time."
Elsewhere, Kawhi Leonard delivered 19 points as the Toronto Raptors extended their best start in franchise history by beating the hapless Phoenix Suns 107-98.
Jonas Valanciunas scored 16 points and Serge Ibaka tallied 15 for the Raptors, who improved to 8-1.
Leonard led a balanced Toronto attack but he also jammed his foot with two minutes remaining in the 4th but he doesn't believe it is going to be a problem.
"I think it’s going to be all right, nothing major. I just pushed off on it and kind of rolled it and I wanted to get it looked at," Leonard said.
Kyle Lowry had 11 points and 12 assists in the win for Toronto who started the season 7-2 in 2014 and in 2016.
The Raptors used a 14-2 fourth-quarter surge to take down the Suns who got 17 points and 18 rebounds from number one overall draft pick Deandre Ayton.
Isaiah Canaan scored 19 and Devin Booker, who returned after missing 3 games, scored 18 for Phoenix who have lost seven straight after winning their season opener.
The Suns led for most of the first half to take a 52-48 lead into halftime.
Kawhi Leonard (19 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST) and Kyle Lowry (11 PTS, 12 AST, 6 REB) get the @Raptors to 8-1 with the road W!#WeTheNorth 107 | #TimeToRise 98— NBA (@NBA) November 3, 2018
Valanciunas: 16 PTS, 7 REB, 4 BLK
Deandre Ayton: 17 PTS, 18 REB pic.twitter.com/JzO5OZZskr
In New York, Chris Paul tallied 32 points and 11 rebounds as the Houston Rockets busted out of a slump with a 119-111 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
The Rockets snapped a four-game losing skid which has coincided with the absence of NBA MVP James Harden from the lineup.
Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 28 points, Clint Capela finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Eric Gordon contributed 21 points for the Rockets, who had stumbled to a 1-5 season start after winning 65 games and falling a game short of the NBA finals last season.
Harden set to return
"Third quarter was where they got their break," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said.
"We've had some issues there before and it felt like they came out more aggressive and I thought we missed some shots. They picked up their defense. It felt that."
Harden is expected to return on Saturday. He missed his third straight game with a strained left hamstring and coach Mike D'Antoni said he would probably return for the second half of a back-to-back series with Chicago.
The 34-year-old Anthony was coming off a game against Portland where he shot two-of-12 from the field.
Caris LeVert scored 29 points for the Nets, who got off to an impressive start before the Rockets took control.
Oklahoma City Thunder def. Washington Wizards, 134-111
New York Knicks, def. Dallas Mavericks, 118-106
Houston Rockets def. Brooklyn Nets, 119-111
LA Clippers def. Orlando Magic, 120-95
Toronto Raptors def. Phoenix Suns, 107-98
Memphis Grizzlies def. Utah Jazz, 110-100
Indiana Pacers def. Chicago Bulls, 107-105