Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors found their offence in time to keep their perfect record.
Curry scored 21 of his 24 points in the second half, and the Warriors beat the Sacramento Kings 103-94 on Saturday night.
Golden State (7-0) are off to their best start since moving to California. The defending NBA champions are two wins away from matching the Philadelphia Warriors’ 9-0 franchise-best start in 1960/61.
The Warriors were averaging nearly 118 points coming into the night, but they were held to a season-low total. They shot 41 per cent overall and missed 31-of-39 three-point attempts.
“We couldn’t get our shots to go in tonight – it happens,” interim coach Luke Walton said. “But we found a way to grind it out. We had some wide open looks that wouldn’t go down. It was one of those random nights.”
It certainly was an unusual night for Curry, who was averaging 35.5 points on 56.9 per cent shooting coming into the game. He was 8-for-18 from the field, including a 2-for-10 performance from three-point range, but managed to score some big baskets in the second half.
Curry had 11 points in the third quarter and 10 more in the fourth when the Warriors used a 16-5 run to pull away for the win.
“Never too high, never too low; that’s my motto,” Curry said. “I’m not expecting to shoot lights out every game.”
Klay Thompson scored 18 points and Andre Iguodala had 14 for Golden State, who have won 74 of their last 89 games dating to last season. Harrison Barnes scored 13 points on 4-for-17 shooting.
Marco Bellinelli and Rudy Gay each scored 22 points for the Kings, losers of five straight. Rajon Rondo had 14 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists for his 23rd career regular-season triple double, and Kosta Koufos finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“I thought our leader was Rondo. He was first class and incredibly into the game,” coach George Karl said. “His defence on Curry was first class. I just wished we had a little more gas in the tank to finish off the game.”
Sacramento played without leading scorer and rebounder DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles strain) for a fourth straight game. Darren Collison was sidelined by a hamstring strain.
The Kings were 6-17 last season without Cousins, who has career averages of 18.9 points and 10.6 rebounds.
“I would love to have DeMarcus back. That’s my running mate,” Gay said, who shot 10-of-25 and had four of the Kings’ 21 turnovers. “We need him back. That’s the reason why I’ve been playing terribly.”
Elsewhere in the NBA
Houston Rockets 109, Los Angeles Clippers 105
Seven games into the season, the Houston Rockets have already experienced more ups and downs than most teams. They lost their first three games and have turned things around to win four in a row.
Much of it is due to James Harden, who scored a season-high 46 points in his second straight game over 40 to help the Rockets beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-105 Saturday night.
Harden made 13-of-14 free throws and was 5-of-10 from three-point range a night after he scored 43 in a 116-110 win at Sacramento.
“We got some open shots and I was just being aggressive,” Harden said. “These last couple games when we have been playing well, our defence has led to easy buckets in transition for our offense, so that’s what we have to hang our hat on.”
Blake Griffin had 35 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who played without Chris Paul. The star point guard sat out with a sore right groin as Los Angeles lost at home for the first time in four games.
“We needed to make things tougher for James,” Griffin said. “We needed to make him drive, but he’s good at that just like he’s a good shooter. He had it going and we need to do a better job by committee.”
Marcus Thornton added 16 points, and Dwight Howard had 20 points and 20 rebounds for the Rockets.
Atlanta Hawks 114, Washington Wizards 99
Kent Bazemore scored a career-high 25 points, and the Hawks earned their seventh consecutive victory.
Paul Millsap had 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Atlanta, and Al Horford scored 14 points. Jeff Teague finished with 10 points, eight assists and five steals.
Otto Porter paced the Wizards with a career-high 23 points, but Washington committed 26 turnovers and were unable to stop Atlanta while they scored 39 points in the final quarter.
John Wall had 19 points and 12 assists for the Wizards, while teammate Bradley Beal was held to a season-low 11 points and committed eight turnovers.
Utah Jazz 89, Memphis Grizzlies 79
Trey Burke scored 24 points, including a career-high six three-pointers, and Utah held on for the win.
The Jazz improved to 4-2 for their best start to a season since 2008/09.
Utah’s Gordon Hayward had his best game of the season, finishing with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists while shooting 6-for-10 from the field. Derrick Favors had 12 points, 16 rebounds and three steals.
Memphis (3-4) had their worst shooting night of the season against the No 1 defence in the NBA, going 30-for-91 from the field. Mike Conley had 20 points and five assists.
San Antonio Spurs 114, Charlotte Hornets 94
Kawhi Leonard scored 23 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 and the Spurs pulled away for the win.
San Antonio made eight three-pointers in the second half of their highest scoring game of the season. Patty Mills scored 15 points and Manu Ginobili added 13 for the Spurs, who have won both of their home games.
After going 1-for-7 on three-pointers in the first half, San Antonio used their long-range shooting to go on a 20-2 run in the third quarter.
Following a three-point play by Leonard, San Antonio made four consecutive three-pointers while building an 86-73 lead.
Kemba Walker scored 27 points for Charlotte, who had won two in a row. Al Jefferson added 13 points.
Dallas Mavericks 107, New Orleans Pelicans 98
Deron Williams had 16 of his 19 points in the second half and Dirk Nowitzki scored nine of his 18 in the fourth quarter as the Mavericks kept the Pelicans winless.
The Mavericks won their first game at home in three tries and dropped the Pelicans, who dressed only nine players, to 0-6.
Wesley Matthews snapped a 72-all tie with two free throws to key a 7-0 run that he finished with a three-point play. Nowitzki answered a Toney Douglas three-pointer with one of his own and then dipped underneath Dante Cunningham on a post-up move to put the Mavericks up 84-75.
Anthony Davis had 25 points for New Orleans, while Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson added 21 apiece.
Minnesota Timberwolves 102, Chicago Bulls 93 (overtime)
Andrew Wiggins scored 31 points, leading the Timberwolves to the road win.
Karl-Anthony Towns added 17 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots for Minnesota, who had lost two in a row. Fellow rookie Nemanja Bjelica also scored 17.
The Timberwolves outscored the Bulls 9-0 in the extra session, marking the first time in franchise history Chicago failed to score in an overtime period.
Towns’s layup made it 98-93 with 2:32 to go, and then the No 1 overall draft pick set up Tayshaun Prince for a layup with 30 seconds remaining.
Pau Gasol had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Chicago, who were coming off a 104-98 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night. Tony Snell scored 14 points.
Milwaukee Bucks 94, Brooklyn Nets 86
Greg Monroe had 20 points and eight rebounds, powering Milwaukee to the win.
Monroe shot 8-of-16 from the floor and contributed his only two assists down the stretch for the Bucks, who handed the Nets their seventh straight loss to start the season.
Jerryd Bayless had 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting and 10 rebounds, and Khris Middleton chipped in with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Milwaukee has won four in a row after starting 0-3 for the first time since 1976/77.
Brook Lopez had 20 points for Brooklyn, and Thaddeus Young finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Orlando Magic 105, Philadelphia 76ers 97
Elfrid Payton scored 20 points, and the balanced Magic had seven players score in double figures in their third victory in four games.
Evan Fournier had 17 points for Orlando, and Victor Oladipo finished with 15 on 6-for-18 shooting. Dewayne Dedmon added 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel was ejected with 1:51 left in the third quarter after getting into a tussle with Orlando’s Jason Smith, who was called for an offensive foul for elbowing Noel in the ribs. Noel finished with just two points – 12 below his season average.
Isaiah Canaan scored 23 points for the winless Sixers, going 6-for-12 from three-point range.
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