NBA: In East-West battle, Stephen Curry and Warriors ‘make a statement’ and stomp Raptors

Golden State, with the best record in the West, handed it to Toronto - the East's best team - 126-105 on Friday night as Stephen Curry and Draymond Green fuelled a dominant showing.

Stephen Curry is averaging 23.1 points per game for the Warriors this season. John G Mabanglo / EPA / January 2, 2015
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Forced to go small, the Golden State Warriors keep coming up big.

East or West, they are the best team in the NBA right now – and they want everyone to know it.

Stephen Curry had 32 points and 12 assists, Draymond Green got his first career triple-double and the Warriors rolled past the Toronto Raptors 126-105 on Friday night in a matchup of conference leaders.

“One thing we always say when we’re playing against a team like this is, ‘This is a team we could possibly play later on in the year’,” Green said. “Try to make a statement.”

Did they ever.

Green finished with 16 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, and three others scored in double digits to help the NBA-best Warriors (26-5) wear down the Raptors (24-9) in the second half. Golden State started the third quarter on a 23-5 run and thwarted the Raptors’ brief rally with contributions from all over.

“I went in the locker room and just told them, ‘I don’t have much to say other than wow’,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

Toronto’s loss allowed Atlanta to move into first in the East.

Greivis Vasquez scored 25 points, and Kyle Lowry had 22 points and eight assists for the Raptors, who lost consecutive road games for the first time this season. Toronto fell to 2-3 on their six-game trip, which ends at Phoenix on Sunday.

Golden State kept up their blistering pace without a true centre as Andrew Bogut (right knee) and backup Festus Ezeli (left ankle) continue to recover from nagging injuries.

Kerr mixed and matched smaller line-ups – using Green and Marreese Speights down low and sometimes nothing but forwards on the floor – to push the pace and maximise his team’s versatility.

The Warriors outshot Toronto 53.3 per cent to 46.5 per cent. They also tied a season-low with nine turnovers, while the Raptors had 17.

“That’s a well-oiled machine. Their small line-up is one of the best in the league,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

The Warriors went 5-for-6 from three-point range in the first quarter to take a 40-31 lead. It was the most points Golden State has scored and the most the Raptors have allowed in the first quarter this season.

Even with the Warriors putting on an offensive spectacle, Toronto didn’t go away easily.

Lowry overcame early foul trouble and Vasquez hit four threes in the first half to help the Raptors regroup from a 14-point deficit. Golden State led just 66-61 at intermission.

“When we feel threated,” Speights said, “we always play better.”

Just as they have so often during the best start in franchise history, the Warriors leaned on their defence and their leading man to pull away behind one big burst.

Curry capped the spurt by throwing down a hard dunk as Lowry tried to block him from behind. Curry screamed as Lowry tried to inbound the ball and the announced sellout crowd of 19,596 roared to its feet – along with several teammates.

“I couldn’t stop screaming when he did that either,” Green said.

The Raptors, playing without all-star guard DeMar DeRozan (torn muscle in left groin) for the 16th straight game, closed to 110-101 before Curry finished with a flurry – scoring 10 points in a three-minute span.

The Warriors also got key contributions from Speights (26 points and eight rebounds), Klay Thompson (20 points), David Lee (12 points and seven rebounds) and Justin Holiday (nine points).

“Their small ball really got to us,” Lowry said. “I think they kind of just went up and down a little bit too fast at a pace we didn’t really want.”

AROUND THE NBA

Mavericks 119 (24-10) Celtics 101 (11-19)

Rajon Rondo scored the Mavericks’ first 10 points in his return to Boston and finished with a season-high 29.

Rondo had a career-high five three-pointers and also finished with six rebounds and five assists in his first game at TD Garden in an opponent’s uniform. The rebuilding Celtics traded the four-time all-star to Dallas last month.

Monta Ellis scored 22 points, Dirk Nowitzki had 17 and Tyson Chandler collected 16 rebounds to help the Mavericks to their fourth consecutive victory.

Avery Bradley scored 22 points for the Celtics, and Tyler Zeller had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Thunder 109 (17-17), Wizards 102 (22-10)

Kevin Durant scored 34 points to help Oklahoma City get the win.

Durant was 12-for-18 from the field in just 32 minutes, including a 4-for-7 performance from three-point range.

Russell Westbrook had 22 points and six assists for the Thunder, who reached .500 for the first time this season. Oklahoma City shot 53 per cent from the field to win for the fourth time in five games.

Bradley Beal had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Washington, who have lost two in a row. Andre Miller added a season-high 15 points, and John Wall had 14 points and 12 assists, but he made just 5-of-13 shots.

Hawks 98 (24-8), Jazz 92 (11-22)

Jeff Teague scored 25 points, and surging Atlanta picked up another victory.

The Hawks have won three straight and 19-of-22. Paul Millsap had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Al Horford scored 13 points in Atlanta’s sixth consecutive win over a Western Conference opponent.

Gordon Hayward scored 18 points and reserve Dante Exum added 13 points for the Jazz. Utah were swept in the season series against Atlanta for a second consecutive year.

Pelicans 111 (17-16), Rockets 83 (22-10)

Ryan Anderson scored 22 points and Tyreke Evans added 21, leading New Orleans to the runaway win.

Dante Cunningham added 13 points for New Orleans, who opened a double-digit lead in the second quarter and led by as much as 32 in the second half.

Omer Asik grabbed 11 rebounds, and Anthony Davis accounted for three of the Pelicans’ eight blocked shots.

Dwight Howard scored 12 points and James Harden had 11 for Houston, all in the first half. With his starters ineffective early in the third quarter, coach Kevin McHale opted to play reserves during most of the second half, a move apparently designed to send a message while resting prominent players in advance of Houston’s game on Saturday night against Miami.

Grizzlies 109 (24-8), Lakers 106 (10-23)

Mike Conley had 19 points and nine assists, Marc Gasol scored 18 points and the Grizzlies edged the Lakers.

Five players scored in double digits for the Southwest Division-leading Grizzlies, who maintained their one-game lead over Dallas while beating the Lakers for the ninth time in the last 11 meetings and fifth time in a row. Beno Udrih, the sixth and last player off the Memphis bench, had 16 points in 19 minutes.

Ed Davis and reserve Jeremy Lin each had 20 points for Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, but missed a potential tying three-pointer at the buzzer.

Cavaliers 91 (19-14), Hornets 87 (10-24)

Kevin Love scored 27 points, Kyrie Irving had 23 and Cleveland snapped a three-game losing streak.

Tristan Thompson added 14 points and 14 rebounds as the Cavaliers won their first game since announcing LeBron James would miss two weeks with knee and back strains. Dion Waiters finished with 17 points.

Love returned to the line-up after missing one start with back spasms and played 38 minutes. He was 9-of-15 from the field and helped the Cavaliers take control of the game with three straight three-pointers in the third quarter.

Gerald Henderson led Charlotte with 14 points. The Hornets have lost five in a row.

Nets 100 (16-16), Magic 98 (13-23)

Mason Plumlee had 18 points and nine rebounds, and Brooklyn earned their third straight victory.

Brook Lopez and Deron Williams added 16 points apiece. The win gets the Nets back to .500 for the first time since November.

The Nets shot well most of the night and led by as many as 26 points in the second half. The Magic rallied in fourth quarter, and got within two points with 3.8 seconds to play on a three-pointer by Elfrid Payton.

But they weren’t able to foul again as Brooklyn successfully ran out the clock.

Victor Oladipo led seven Orlando players in double figures with 17 points. Payton had 16 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

Suns 112 (19-16), 76ers 96 (4-27)

Gerald Green and Markieff Morris each scored 21 points, and Phoenix pulled away in the fourth quarter.

With the Suns struggling against the NBA-worst Sixers, Green hit a three-pointer in an 11-2 run to start the fourth and Phoenix grabbed control to snap a two-game losing streak.

Tony Wroten scored 28 points for the Sixers, who trailed 80-79 with a minute left in the third quarter. But a poor final period sent them to their 27th loss in 31 games.

There was an NBA first late in the game when Markieff and Marcus Morris played with teammates Goran and Zoran Dragic for the Suns. It was the first time two sets of brothers played for a team at the same time.

Pistons 97 (9-23), Knicks 81 (5-30)

Brandon Jennings scored 29 points, and Detroit stretched their win streak to four games.

Jodie Meeks had 15 points for the Pistons, and Andre Drummond finished with seven points and 17 rebounds.

JR Smith led the Knicks with 22 points. Cole Aldrich added 11 points and 14 rebounds.

New York have lost 10 in a row.

The Knicks played without Carmelo Anthony, who was sidelined by a sore left knee. Anthony is averaging a team-best 23.9 points per game.

Pacers 94 (13-21), Bucks 91 (17-17)

CJ Miles scored 22 points and Roy Hibbert had 18, leading balanced Indiana to the victory.

The Pacers had five players score in double figures in their fifth win in seven games. Luis Scola had 14 points, and Rodney Stuckey finished with 11.

Indiana trailed by seven at the break, but held Milwaukee to 15 points in the third and went ahead to stay in the final period.

The Bucks pulled within three with 5.2 seconds remaining, but Solomon Hill made two foul shots to help the Pacers hold on.

Brandon Knight had 20 points for Milwaukee, and John Henson finished with 14. Zaza Pachulia had 12 points and 14 rebounds.

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