Never quite in total command yet always seeming to dictate the direction of the game, the Warriors labored their way to a 126-118 victory over the Wizards on Thursday at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C.
Stephen Curry scored 38 points and Kevin Durant had 21, as the Warriors overcame their own sloppiness to win their ninth consecutive game, the longest win streak in the NBA this season.
The 3-balls weren’t falling (7-of-20), so the Warriors (35-14) carved up the Wizards elsewhere in shooting 56.8 percent.
Here are three takeaways from the first of a three-game swing through the Eastern Conference:
The Marvelous Mr. Curry
Though Klay Thompson at his best burns opponents into submission, Curry proved once again that he is more likely to be the guy who will smooth out the team’s rough spots.
Each time the Wizards threatened to catch up, Curry was there to shove them back in place, usually by scoring but sometimes by breaking down the defense with his mere presence.
He scored 13 points in the third quarter to keep the Wizards at bay, and when they got within two in the fourth, Curry re-entered and the lead was back to eight in less than a minute.
Curry poured in 38 points on 14-of-24 shooting, including 2-of-8 from deep. On a night when Thompson and Durant were 13-of-31, Curry was the difference on the scoreboard.
Though his off-the-dribble forays were slow and clumsy — and will remain so for a while — most everything else DeMarcus Cousins does is right on time.
Often using his size to bully his way in the post, Cousins finished with 17 points (8-of-12 shooting, 1-of-1 beyond the arc), six rebounds, three assists and one block. His finished a minus-8 over 24 minutes, his highest minutes total thus far.
As a bonus, he also picked up his first technical foul as a member of the active roster for being a bit too aggressive when disengaging from a tie-up with Washington center Thomas Bryant.
Bench recovers splendidly after brief struggle
The Warriors opened the fourth quarter with Curry and Durant on the bench and a 104-92 lead. When Washington went on a 14-4 run over the next four minutes, cutting the margin to two, the Warriors never blinked.
Though Curry and Durant were back in a flash, others were crucial in pushing the lead back to double digits.
Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, Kevon Looney and Alfonzo McKinnie all made huge plays inside the final five minutes
Iguodala was a team-best plus-19 over 25 minutes, Looney was plus-14 over 17 minutes.