OAKLAND – The Miami Heat invaded Oracle Arena and promptly turned the Wettest Arena in the NBA into a No Splash zone.
It was as if each time one of the Warriors’ long-range bombers set up along the 3-point arc, he was met by a swarm of bees. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, in particular, were taken out of their usual games.
So they got creative and found other ways to pull out a 111-103 win Monday night. Curry scored 31 points and Thompson had 17, but chief among the factors for this victory was the overall support provided by the bench.
“They were great,” interim coach Luke Walton said. “If you look at the plus category – and not taking anything away from our starters, but they were all in the negative category, which doesn’t normally happen.
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“It was a great team effort. Miami is a really good team that took away our 3-point shot as well as anybody has this season. We got contributions from a lot of people.”
The bench delivered 12-of-24 (50 percent) shooting, with every member finishing in the plus for the plus/minus category, as the Warriors won their 36th consecutive home game and moved their record this season to an NBA-record 36-2.
Forward Harrison Barnes played 27 minutes, finishing with 12 points and six rebounds and posting a plus-18. Point guard Shaun Livingston played 17 minutes, totaling only two points, but producing six assists and five rebounds, posting a plus-15. Andre Iguodala and Ian Clark each posted a plus-10.
“They were huge,” Curry said of the reserves. “The starters got out to some leads and then kind of let those slip. The bench came in and provided a huge punch and energy and got stops.”
And then there was Marreese Speights, who sat for three full quarters before taking the court for the fourth and draining three shots in a little more than two minutes to create separation from the Heat.
“It’s why we’re a championship team, because of a lot of those guys on the bench,” center Andrew Bogut said. “(Speights) has been key for us, even last season by coming in cold. He really has no hesitation on his jumper. He’s got confidence in it.”
Speights scored six points in six minutes and, moreover, posted a plus-7. The Warriors, ahead by three when Speights entered, were up 10 (95-85) when he took a seat to a standing ovation with 6:18 left in the game.
“We played well but didn’t sustain line,” Curry said of the starters. “The (reserves) came in and took control of the game and got us to the finish line.”
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Curry (minus-3) finished in the minus category for the first time this season. Bogut was minus-9, Draymond Green minus-7, Brandon Rush minus-5 and Thompson minus-3. The Heat had succeeded at executing their defensive game plan.
Miami (22-16) clearly made it a priority to chase Curry and Thompson off the 3-point line, forcing the ball out of their hands or forcing them to dribble into traffic. It was effective, as the Warriors were 7-of-23 beyond the arc.
So they adjusted, shooting 54 percent (34-of-63) inside the arc. That’s not their game, but that’s what it took.
The Warriors held the Heat to 41.7-percent shooting in the second half, while torching their own nets at 57.1 percent. Curry, who missed six of his first eight 3-point launches, drained 2-of-3 inside the final five minutes.
That was enough to give Curry his league-leading 16th game with at least 30 points. And it was enough to give the Warriors a win the hard way, not as usual but through improvisation.
“We know there are going to be games when we have to play any type of way: Uptempo, launching from deep, ball movement, getting it inside a little bit,” Curry said. “We got stops to start that second half and then down the stretch that allowed us to win the game.”