The Golden State Warriors had to get defensive and grind out a win — and coach Steve Kerr appreciated that kind of push for the defending NBA champs, Associated Press reported.
“It’s a good feeling to know if we focus on taking care of the basketball and playing solid defense and focus in on that end really hopefully regardless of how our offense is we’re going to be in good position to win games,” Stephen Curry said.
“Tonight was kind of a testament to that.”
Draymond Green scored 18 points with a season-high four 3s to go with nine rebounds as the defending NBA champions won for the seventh time in their last eight games, including three straight in lopsided fashion on their recent road trip.
The Warriors had scored 100 points in every regular-season game since their second-to-last matchup last season, a 105-99 defeat to Utah as the regulars rested or played limited minutes ahead of the playoffs. Golden State is 3-11 over the past three seasons when held below 100 points.
“I thought it was our best defensive effort of the year,” Kerr said.
“It was a grind-it-out game and I thought we did a good job of staying with it. We held them to 80 points. That’s kind of a playoff style win where you have to grind it out, nothing’s easy.”
Curry added 16 points and Klay Thompson 13. The Warriors shot just 36.8 percent and 11 for 32 from deep. Durant added six assists and three blocks, making all 10 of his free throws as the Warriors shot 22 of 24 from the line.
“I just feel that’s East Coast basketball. If we want to be a great team we’ve got to play different ways,” Durant said. “It’s a good test for us.”
James Johnson scored 21 points off the bench and Goran Dragic contributed 19 points for Miami a night after squeaking out a 104-101 road win against the Clippers.
Thompson missed his first four 3-point tries before connecting late in the first half as Golden State took a 50-37 lead into intermission. Curry was 1 for 9 in the first half and Durant 3 for 8 — and they went a combined 0 for 7 from deep — before Golden State got going a bit after halftime.
Curry was hit with a technical at the 3:20 mark of the first quarter for an elbow to Tyler Johnson while the Golden State star drove to the basket.
Both teams were cold shooting in the early going — Golden State 29.2 percent in the first quarter to 38.1 by Miami, which committed seven of its 23 turnovers in the period.