Durant powers GS Warriors to victory; James rules Kings
LOS ANGELES – Kevin Durant finished with 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his ninth career triple double on Wednesday as the under-manned Golden State Warriors defeated the Charlotte Hornets 101-87.
The Warriors won their fifth straight and the seventh in their last eight games despite playing without superstar Stephen Curry and forward Draymond Green.
Durant had 16 points in the first quarter, quickly setting the tone for the game at the Spectrum Center arena. He finished 13 of 28 from the field and hit three three-pointers.
Durant said his teammates did a good job of picking up the slack with Curry and Green out.
“I think everybody just rallied around each other, from the coaches to the players to the trainers, everybody,” Durant said. “The defense was on point tonight and we got off to a good start.”
Elsewhere, LeBron James nailed a clutch three-pointer with 16 seconds left as Cleveland won a record-tying 13th straight game with a 101-95 win over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.
James finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists as the win equaled a Cleveland franchise record.
There were about five seconds left on the shot clock when time was called with 20 seconds left and Cleveland clinging to a two-point lead.
Coach Tyronn Lue said he intended to call a different play in the huddle, but James wanted “Chicago,” a play named for James’ turnaround jumper at the buzzer in game four of the 2015 conference semifinals against the Chicago Bulls.
“So I said, ‘OK,’” Lue said. “We got it to him, and he made a big shot. That was a huge play for us to put us up five.”
The Cavaliers can set a franchise record win streak on Friday against the Indiana Pacers.
In New Orleans, DeMarcus Cousins had 40 points and 22 rebounds and Jrue Holiday tallied 27 points and seven assists to lift the New Orleans Pelicans to a 123-114 win over the Denver Nuggets.
The Pelicans, who were playing without forward Anthony Davis, erased an early 10-point deficit by getting the ball inside to Cousins.
Davis missed his third straight game with a strained adductor.
Cousins finished just short of his season high with 41 points and 23 rebounds he recorded in a 114-106 road victory over Sacramento on October 26.
The Nuggets were led by Gary Harris with 24 points, but they dropped to 3-9 on the road.
The Pelicans put the game out of reach with a 13-0 run in a three-minute span in the fourth quarter to take a 114-96 lead with 6:38 left.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr was impressed with the way Durant carried the team to victory.
“What a luxury to be able to just throw him the ball, especially with Steph out,” Kerr said. “He took over. It wasn’t really scripted, it was just a natural product of Steph being out, Draymond being out.
“He was attacking from the start. It was like a ‘I’ve got this’.”
The Warriors cruised to a 48-22 lead in the second quarter and never trailed, improving to 20-6 on the season.
Charlotte pulled to within seven points halfway through the fourth quarter, but the Warriors built the lead back up to 16.
The Warriors also got 22 points from Klay Thompson and 10 points from Nick Young.
Curry sat out the contest after suffering a sprained ankle in New Orleans two nights ago. Green was a late scratch because of a shoulder injury.
Charlotte was without their coach Steve Clifford, who missed his second game with an illness.
Kemba Walker had a team-high 24 points for the Hornets, who dropped to 9-14. Nicolas Batum scored 15 and Dwight Howard had 14.
Golden State led 26-18 after one quarter, 53-38 at halftime, and 79-68 after three quarters.