Playing without injured Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors snapped Houston’s nine-game win streak and avoided being swept this season by the Rockets with a 106-104 road victory Wednesday.
Klay Thompson scored a game-high 30 points while DeMarcus Cousins netted a season-high 27 points plus team-highs of eight rebounds and seven assists and Stephen Curry contributed 24 points in a crucial victory for the defending champions.
“When Kevin is out, we don’t have the luxury of throwing to him and getting 30 points,” Thompson said. “We had to throw it to ‘Boogie’ (Collins) in the post and he came through for us in a big way. He propelled us to a victory tonight.”
Durant, a two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, was sidelined by a right ankle sprain suffered in a Sunday loss to Phoenix.
READ ALSO: NBA roundup: LeBron returns, lifts Lakers
But the Warriors, a Western Conference-best 46-21, bounced back behind 3-point sharpshooter Thompson, who hit 12-of-23 from the floor including 5-of-10 from beyond the arc.
“Whether Kevin is out here or not, I play the same way,” Thompson said. “I try to keep moving and being a force.”
Cousins, signed as an injured free agent in July, has had to blend with the Warriors powerhouse lineup since returning in January from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
But Cousins established himself as a physical inside force who could give Houston fits in a playoff series.
“We made a concerted effort to feed him in the post,” Curry said. “Nothing he does out there should surprise anybody.”
Houston, which led Golden State 3-2 in last year’s Western Conference finals before falling in seven games, had won the first three meetings of the season with Golden State but could not become the first team to sweep the Warriors since Steve Kerr became coach of the club and their run of four consecutive NBA Finals runs began.
“It’s a good win for us,” Kerr said. “We’ve got 15 games left for us to figure out the combinations. This was a good night.”
NBA scoring leader James Harden netted 29 points and added 10 assists to lead the Rockets (42-26), who also got 24 points from Chris Paul and 13 points and 13 rebounds from Clint Capela.
Paul sank two free throws with 47 seconds remaining to pull Houston within 104-100, then completed a 3-point play after being fouled by Andre Iguodala to pull the Rockets within 104-103 with 10 seconds remaining.
Curry sank two free throws with eight seconds to play to boost the lead and the Warriors fouled Harden to send him to the free throw line.
Harden sank the first to create the final margin, but missed the second only to have Iguodala chase down the rebound and tap the ball to unguarded Thompson, who tossed it in the air as the final horn sounded.
– Westbrook leads OKC win –
Russell Westbrook unleashed his 26th triple double of the season and led a second-half surge that lifted the Oklahoma City Thunder over visiting Brooklyn 108-96.
Westbrook finished with 31 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and three steals while the Thunder’s Paul George and Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie each added 25 points.
The Nets led 52-42 at half-time but could not silence the Thunder in the second half.
“My job is to bring the energy every night. It was my fault in the first half,” Westbrook said. “I knew I needed to pick it up in the second half.”
Justise Winslow scored 16 points to lead seven double-figure scorers for Miami in a 108-74 rout of visiting Detroit.
The Pistons, led by 13 points from Blake Griffin, were outscored 33-8 in the third quarter, the Heat opening the second half with a 21-0 run.
Miami improved to 32-35, tightening the Heat’s grip on the eighth and last Eastern Conference playoff berth to two games over Orlando and Charlotte with Washington 3.5 adrift.
Bradley Beal scored 23 points and Thomas Bryant came off the bench to add 21 points and 10 rebounds as the Washington Wizards beat visiting Orlando 100-90.
Atlanta’s John Collins scored 27 points to lead the Hawks over visiting Memphis 132-111 while Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points to lead Utah’s 114-97 victory at Phoenix.