Basketball

Curry sizzles with a 49

Two-time MVP scores season-high tally to help Warriors beat Celtics in battle of conference leaders

Stephen Curry scored 31 of his season-high 49 points in the second half yesterday morning (Singapore time) to rally the Golden State Warriors to a 109-105 victory over the Boston Celtics.

In the process of winning the nationally televised showdown of conference leaders, Golden State avenged a 92-88 loss in Boston last November and prevented the Celtics from becoming the first team in the Steve Kerr coaching era to sweep a season series from the Warriors.

The Warriors and Celtics have split their season series in each of the past three seasons.

The win allowed Golden State (40-10) to go five games ahead of Boston (35-15) in their three-team duel with the Houston Rockets (34-13) for the NBA's best record.

Making their third stop on a four-game Western swing, the Celtics took a 95-94 lead on a Jaylen Brown interior move with 3:26 to play before Kevin Durant countered with one free-throw to produce the game's final tie at 95-95.

Curry then gave the Warriors the lead for good with a three-pointer at the 1:43 mark, and followed that with a lay-up that created a five-point gap with 1:28 to go.

Boston closed within one on a three-pointer by Terry Rozier with 7.7 seconds left before Curry made four straight free-throws to keep the Celtics at arm's length.

The Warriors trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half and 54-50 at half-time before Curry, hitting four consecutive three-pointers, almost single-handedly outscored the Celtics in his 18-point third quarter.

Golden State posted a 30-19 edge in the period to lead 80-73 entering the fourth.

Curry's 49 points came on 16-of-24 shooting and eight-of-13 accuracy from three-point range.

SWEEP

Durant finished with 20 points and Draymond Green recorded a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double for the Warriors, who completed a three-game home sweep of the New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston over five days.

The Warriors outshot the Celtics 45.2 per cent to 43.5 per cent en route to topping 100 points for the 16th straight game.

Boston's Kyrie Irving, who had averaged 30 points in his previous three games, went for 37 on five-for-six shooting from three-point range and 13-for-18 accuracy overall.

Curry said on ESPN that facing off with Irving brings the best out of both players.

He said: "We bring the best out of each other. The battles are always fun.

"He's an amazing and talented player that can do some crazy things on the floor.

"We had to play good defence tonight. (That's what the) NBA's all about. Every night, you never know what's going to happen."

Brown totalled 20 points and Al Horford, returning from a concussion, notched a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double for the Celtics.

Boston were without key reserve Marcus Smart (laceration on right hand).

Riding the strength of 11 field goals in their first 14 shots, the Celtics didn't trail until the second minute of the third quarter.

Irving had 19 points and Brown 14 in the first half, during which Boston went up by as many as 10 points on three occasions before settling for a four-point advantage at the break.

Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony scored his 25,000th career point, Russell Westbrook notched a triple-double, and Oklahoma City posted their seventh straight victory by topping hosts Detroit 121-108.

Anthony finished with 21 points and became the 21st player in NBA history to hit that mark, as well as the 25th in NBA and ABA combined history.

Westbrook racked up 31 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. Paul George supplied 26 points and Steven Adams added 13 points and seven rebounds. - REUTERS

OTHER RESULTS:

  • Indiana 114 Orlando 112
  • Atlanta 104 Washington 129
  • Miami 95 Charlotte 91
  • Denver 91 Dallas 89
  • Minnesota 111 Brooklyn 97