Raptors outgun Wizards, Durant shines as Warriors snap losing skid
By Agence France-Presse
Kevin Durant scored 32 points as the two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors halted their worst losing streak in over five years with a 125-97 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
“We made shots tonight. It brings energy into the building. I am glad we got a win finally,” said Durant. “We were pressing, forcing ourselves to win a game and we just relaxed tonight.”
Klay Thompson delivered 31 points and Durant also had eight assists, seven rebounds and shot 13 of 21 from the field for the Warriors, who had lost four straight games.
Thompson hit five of his first seven shots and grabbed a season-high eight boards for the undermanned Warriors, who were playing without star guard Stephen Curry.
Curry was involved in a multi-car accident earlier in the day that left him uninjured but damaged his Porsche Panamera sports car. Curry sat out Friday because of a strained left groin and Draymond Green also remained sidelined because of a sore right toe.
Jusuf Nurkic had 22 points and eight rebounds and CJ McCollum chipped in 19 points for Portland.
– Raptors defeat Wizards –
Elsewhere, Kawhi Leonard scored 27 points and flirted with a triple double as the NBA-leading Toronto Raptors set a franchise record for wins in the first 20 games of the season with a 125-107 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday.
Leonard also added 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Raptors won their fourth straight contest to improve to 16-4 overall.
Kyle Lowry and OG Anunoby each scored 15 points and Fred VanVleet had 13 for the Raptors, who ended a two game losing skid at home but still have eight wins in their last 10 at the Scotiabank Arena.
The Raptors were powered by their best three point shooting night of the season, converting a season-high 17 from beyond the arc.
Danny Green, Anunoby and VanVleet each made three three pointers as Toronto shot 43.6 percent from three point range, its highest percentage of the season.
“When we get those games where we can shoot the ball well, it’s a big advantage,” said Lowry.
Beal scored 20 points and Otto Porter had 17 for the Wizards, who are 2-7 on the road.
Wizards guard John Wall shot just five of 13, going one for seven from three-point range. Wall scored 11 points and had a game-high 11 assists.
Washington attempted a season-high 46 shots from long range, making just nine.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks was impressed with the Raptors’ style of play.
“They’re hard to beat,” Brooks said. “You’ve got to really be on-point defensively because they have so many good three-point shooters and ball-movers and smart basketball players.”
– ‘Mental game’ –
Also, Danilo Gallinari sank all nine of his free throws en route to a 20-point performance as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 112-107 in overtime.
The Grizzlies were up by eight points with two minutes to go and appeared to be headed to victory but Gallinari drained three clutch free throws with three seconds left in regulation to force the overtime.
“I don’t know if his blood pressure ever goes up or down,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “He is one of the best, if not the best free-throw shooter in the league.”
Gallinari improved to 95.5 percent from the charity stripe on the season.
“It’s something I can say I’m pretty good at. It’s a mental game at the free throw line,” he said.
Montrezl Harrell finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds and Lou Williams had 15 points for the Clippers, who outscored Memphis 11-3 to close the fourth quarter. Harrell had five points in the overtime as the Clippers won their eighth straight at home.
Memphis’ Marc Gasol overcame a slow start to lead all scorers with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Gasol’s first basket didn’t come until just under five minutes left in the second quarter.
Rookie Jaren Jackson added 20 points and Mike Conley 19 for the Grizzlies. (AFP)