ORACLE ARENA — When the conference leaders come face-to-face, a chance presents itself to make a statement. The Warriors did not disappoint Friday night.
It’s nowhere near playoff time, but Golden State, the best in the West, continued to prove they’re ready for any challenge, taking down the best in the East Toronto Raptors, 126-105.
Late in the third quarter, Andre Iguodala passed long to a sprinting Stephen Curry who rushed toward the basket and emphatically dunked on Toronto’s star point guard Kyle Lowry to regain a 20-point lead.
Curry pounded his chest and screamed with the crowd, both reacting as if it was Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Curry’s highlight slam was just a small piece of his performance as he went on to finish the night with a game-high 32-point, 12-assist double-double with zero turnovers.
When asked about the dunk, Curry said that was the first one he’s had that has felt like it had real power behind it:
“I figured I could turn it over in my hand and get it over the rim, but I jumped a little higher than I thought which was nice. Then I lost my mind for about twenty seconds.”
The Warriors and Raptors entered Friday’s contest at the top of their respective conferences, just a half a game ahead of the competition, chomping at the bit to prove their superiority.
By the end of the night, Golden State had pushed Toronto out of their East-leading spot and extended their own lead over Portland.
Marreese Speights said making a statement at home was what the team wanted to do, telling SFBay he was glad the home crowd was able to see the show:
“When you feel threatened you always play better and that’s a good team coming in from the East and they’ve been playing good so we knew we had an opportunity to play them on our court. Its Friday night and we knew it was going to be an exciting game. The fans got their moneys worth tonight.”
Before the game Steve Kerr, told SFBay that even though some games are more difficult to get excited about, his team had no problem getting mentally ready for a matchup against Toronto:
“I think these games bring out the best in our guys. … Both teams are rested and we had a couple of days to prepare and so have they. It’s a good regular season matchup.”
The Warriors looked more than prepared in the opening quarter, shooting more than 69 percent from the field and continuing to pull ahead in the second quarter, taking a 14-point lead with 6:32 left in the first half.
Toronto answered with a 12-0 run, and with less than two minutes left in the half, Amir Johnson threw down a put-back slam to give the Raptors a two-point lead.
Golden State weathered the Toronto storm and managed to escape the first half with a five-point advantage. Coming out of intermission with a second wind of firepower, they started the third quarter on a 23-5 run to take a 89-66 lead.
Though the Raptors sporadically made small dents in the Warriors’ lead, they were never able to get out of the double-digit deficit created by Golden State. And, as Kerr predicted, the competition brought out the best in the his team.
Speights, with 26 points and eight boards, was again a bright spot in the rotation and a spark every time the Warriors needed it while Green intimidated on both ends of the floor for his first career triple-double.
Raptors guard Lou Williams said defending was difficult because there’s not many ways to stop guys who are playing at their highest level:
“Draymond Green had his first triple-double ever tonight. That’s history. Anytime guys make history it’s going to be tough to guard. Marreese Speights played out of his mind tonight. …They are not called Splash Brothers and all of these different nicknames for nothing.”
The Warriors, now 26-5, continue their six-game home stand Monday against the Oklahoma City Thunder (17-17).
Golden State improved to 10-0 against the Eastern Conference. Tonight’s game marked the first time since 1976 that the Warriors, as leaders of the Western Conference, faced off against the top team in the Eastern Conference. … Draymond Green recorded his first career triple-double (16 points, career-high 13 assists, 11 rebounds) becoming the 22nd player in franchise history to join the triple-double club. … Stephen Curry finished with a game-high 32 points to go with 12 assists, his 20th career 30/10 game. Curry has more 30-point/10-assist games since the 2013-2014 season (13) than any other player in the league. … Curry passed Alvin Attles for seventh all-time on the franchise’s assist list (2,489 career). … Marreese Speights scored 26 points, the first time in his NBA career that he scored at least 20 points in back-to-back games. It was his highest scoring output as a Warriors starter, tying a career-high with 12 field goals made.