Spurs add to Warriors’ woes, James burns Heat with 51 points
By Agence France-Presse
The Golden State Warriors’ malaise deepened Sunday with a third straight NBA defeat, the two-time defending champions falling 104-92 to the Spurs in San Antonio.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 24 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for the Spurs, who thwarted the Warriors’ late rally bid, keeping the champions winless in a three-game swing through Texas.
It’s just the third time since coach Steve Kerr took the helm at Golden State in 2014 that the Warriors have lost three games on the trot.
They were held to a season-low in points in a 107-86 loss to Houston on Thursday — after which Kerr admitted the team was both physically and “spiritually” banged-up — a reference to superstar Stephen Curry’s groin injury and the spat between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant that saw Green suspended by the team for one game.
A day after a disappointing loss to the Mavericks in Dallas, the Warriors still couldn’t find their rhythm, losing for the fifth time in seven games.
“We’ve got to get back to our team identity,” Kerr said, saying they couldn’t give in to frustration despite the injury absences of Curry and Green — who was again sidelined by a sprained toe.
“Everyone has to come together,” Kerr said. “You can’t feel sorry for yourselves. You have to commit to fighting, and executing, competing for 48 minutes. We did that for maybe 24 minutes tonight… you’ve got to do that the whole time, playing with some poise and playing with a purpose. I don’t think we did that tonight.”
Durant led the Warriors with 26 points, but made just eight of 25 shots — and only one of eight from three-point range.
Klay Thompson scored 25 points on 11 of 26 shooting, making just three of his attempts from beyond the arc.
DeMar DeRozan scored 20 points and Rudy Gay chipped in 19 for the Spurs, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
With the defeat, the 12-6 Warriors slipped to second in the Western Conference, a game behind the Portland Trail Blazers who improved to 11-5 with a 119-109 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Damian Lillard scored 40 points and C.J. McCollom added 25 for the Trail Blazers. Jusuf Nurkic scored 13 points with 14 rebounds and equaled his career high with eight assists as Portland bounced back from a loss at Minnesota.
– James scores 51 against Heat –
LeBron James launched his two-game reunion tour by dropping 51 points on the Miami Heat in his first visit to his former team since joining the Los Angeles Lakers this season.
James, who led the Heat to four NBA Finals appearances and two titles before returning to his hometown club Cleveland in 2014, made it look easy from the opening tip off. He scored 19 points in the first quarter on the way to a season high.
“It’s just playing with greatness,” Lakers guard Lonzo Ball said after Los Angeles wrapped up a 113-97 victory. “Tonight he took the game over.”
James made 19 of 31 shots from the floor, including six of eight from three-point range.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wasn’t surprised by what he saw from the superstar he once coached.
“I’ve seen it before on our side,” Spoelstra said. “No question, when he’s hitting the three like that, that changes the equation.”
The Lakers’ next game is on Wednesday in Cleveland, where James led the Cavaliers to the NBA crown in 2013.
Red-hot shooting lifted the Orlando Magic to a 131-117 victory over the New York Knicks.
The magic drained their first 10 shots from the field and Aaron Gordon had 20 points in the first quarter on the way to 31 as Orlando led throughout, building on the momentum from their 130-117 victory over the Lakers on Saturday.