Curry scores 44, Warriors hold off late rally by Clippers (Feb 23, 2018)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Stephen Curry swished a beautiful buzzer-beater from way back early and hit another timely 3-pointer late on the way to scoring 44, and the Golden State Warriors returned from the All-Star break and had to hold off the Los Angeles Clippers 134-127 on Thursday night.

Kevin Durant had 21 points and eight assists, Klay Thompson added 19 points, and Draymond Green contributed 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Curry shot 14 for 19, including 8 of 11 from deep, in his third 40-point game of the season.

Coach Steve Kerr challenged the defending champions to begin games better on the defensive end, which they did. Then the Clippers nearly came back with a surge down the stretch in what became an entertaining back-and-forth in the closing minutes.

The Warriors led 104-93 on David West‘s two free throws with 11:31 to play before a 9-0 Clippers cut it to two.

Curry let it fly from nearly halfcourt to end the first quarter, both his furthest 3 of the season and first as time expired. Those have been his signature shots in recent seasons, so the sellout crowd went crazy.

The two-time NBA MVP made another 3 just before halftime, then Los Angeles’ Danilo Gallinari drained a 47-footer at the buzzer to get the Clippers within 70-58 at the break.

Tobias Harris scored 22 points, Gallinari wound up with 15 and DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 14 rebounds for Los Angeles, which had won five of six.

The Warriors are now 7-1 this season in the next game against an opponent after losing the first meeting. The Clippers beat Golden State 126-106 on Jan. 10 at Oracle Arena.

Thompson made two quick 3s to become the 10th Warriors player to reach 10,000 career points in the regular season, and his first 3 moved him past Joe Barry Carroll (9,996 points) for 10th place on the franchise’s career scoring list.

Golden State lost at Portland before the break but improved to 13-1 following a loss this season.

The Warriors, who shot 66.7 percent in the first quarter to take charge, have dropped back-to-back games only seven times in Kerr’s four seasons.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Williams had a season-high 11 assists. … Los Angeles shot just 11 for 31 from 3-point range. … The Clippers lost for only the sixth time in their last 19 games.

Warriors: C JaVale McGee earned his fifth start of the season for the Warriors and had six points and four rebounds in place of Zaza Pachulia. … Kerr spent four nights in Hawaii for the All-Star break with his wife and two of his three kids. … The Warriors had gone into the All-Star break with the best winning percentage the past three seasons until Houston held that spot this year. … Patrick McCaw missed his second straight game with a sprained left thumb, while Jordan Bell sat out a 13th in a row with inflammation in his left ankle.

ANALYTICS ASSIST

Kerr used the resources of analytics guru Sammy Gelfand throughout the break to determine the Warriors aren’t defending nearly as well in the first five minutes of games than a year ago.

”Sammy Gelfand did not get an All-Star break,” Kerr said, explaining the biggest issue as, ”We’re just not trying hard enough.”

UP NEXT

Clippers: Visit Phoenix on Friday.

Warriors: Host Oklahoma City on Saturday after the Thunder won at Golden State 125-105 on Feb. 6.

More AP NBA: apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

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