Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combined for 65 points to give the Golden State Warriors their fifth consecutive victory on Wednesday as the Cleveland Cavaliers slumped to defeat in the absence of LeBron James.
Reigning NBA MVP Curry scored 35 points while Durant weighed in with 30 as the Warriors launched a four-game road trip with a 127-121 win over the Toronto Raptors.
Durant added nine rebounds and six assists while Klay Thompson finished with 14 points. Draymond Green (11 points) and Andre Iguodala (10) also made double digits as the Warriors improved to 9-2.
The Warriors were made to sweat for victory however, seeing an 18-point fourth quarter lead reduced to just six points before they held on to win.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the game was effectively won in the second quarter, when his team outscored Toronto by 32-15 to forge a 66-53 lead at half-time.
“The second quarter was great, one of the best quarters we have played,” Kerr said.
“That’s probably the only quarter we’ve played tonight the way we want to play. Defense was good, we didn’t foul. We rebounded, and that was obviously the key to the game, that whole stretch. Draymond (Green) was brilliant. The whole quarter, I thought he was great.
“It was a good way to start the (four-game) trip,” Kerr added. “Beating a really, really, good team in a very tough environment.”
While the Warriors celebrated a hard-earned win, Cleveland were given a reminder of how difficult life can be without LeBron James after they went down 103-93 to the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.
James was rested for the game and the Pacers took full advantage to become only the second team to beat the reigning NBA Finals Champions this season.
Paul George had 21 points and 11 rebounds while Jeff Teague added 20 for the Pacers.
“They were a dangerous team, even if LeBron is not in the lineup,” Indiana coach Nate McMillan said. “When our guys got the news he was not playing, my concern was a letdown. Guys were excited about LeBron and the World Champions being in town.
“Our guys did the job defensively, and especially in the first half, we had good ball movement. Tonight, the key was simply to take care of business, even it LeBron is not in uniform.”
Kevin Love topscored for the Cavaliers with 27 points while Kyrie Irving added 24.
“We had our chances,” Love said. “We cut the lead to four or five a couple of times, and it just felt like we either had a bad possession, a turnover and then that lead went to eight or nine points.”
A ‘DANGEROUS’ MAN
The individual performance of the night arguably belonged to Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks, who produced a career-best 35 points in his team’s win over the Detroit Pistons.
The Knicks’ heavy-hitters also weighed in, with Carmelo Anthony scoring 22 points, Derrick Rose adding 16 and Joakim Noah snaffling 15 rebounds.
Rose was left in awe of Porzingis’s performance.
“He is dangerous,” Rose said. “For a second-year player that doesn’t really know the game like that, for him to come out and play the way he plays is incredible. And for him to be 7-foot-3 and move the way that he moves is kind of crazy. A unique, unique player.”
Porzingis meanwhile soaked up the plaudits with modesty, attributing his display to the work of his team-mates.
“Shots were falling. I was playing my game. My teammates were finding me. I was in good position, and my shot felt good,” he said.