Jordan Poole and Golden State put on a shooting clinic in Cleveland, the Warriors draining 23 three-pointers in a 120-114 victory as Stephen Curry watched from the bench.
Warriors star Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green all sat out the contest a day after the NBA champions’ heartbreaking overtime loss to the Celtics in Boston.
But with 32 points from Poole and 22 from Ty Jerome the Warriors came away unlikely winners — their first road victory this season over a team with a winning record.
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The Warriors set the tone when they connected on seven of eight three-pointers in the first quarter, and their 14 first-half three-pointers matched the most ever by a Cleveland opponent for one half.
There was no let-up after the break, the Warriors quickly pushing a five-point halftime lead to as many as 20 in a third quarter that featured another six three-pointers from the Warriors.
Cleveland sliced the deficit to four with two minutes remaining, but Jerome promptly drained another three-pointer and the Warriors were off again.
Poole, the only regular warriors starter in action Friday, finished with five three-pointers. Anthony Lamb had four and Jerome had three — as did Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green, who was back in action after missing 14 games.
Jonathan Kuminga also returned for Golden State after missing eight games with a sprained foot.
“It’s just a night where a bunch of guys came in and played with confidence, played with force,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
“When you get a win like this, and everybody feels good about themselves in their own game, it gives you a little boost.”
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Kerr was unrepentant about sitting his starters, saying banged up players had to be given a chance to rest or risk injury that could significantly hamper their season or playoffs.
“I feel terrible for fans who buy tickets who are expecting to see someone play,” Kerr said. “It’s a brutal part of the business. It’s why I’m going to continue to advocate for 72-game seasons.”
Darius Garland scored 21 to lead Cleveland, who were again without three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell because of a groin injury.
Cleveland coach JB Bickerstaff said the problem wasn’t any missing Cavs player.
“We didn’t respect the game. It’s that simple,” Bickerstaff said.
“They’ve got champions over there, and we thought some of those guys were out so we were going to take it lightly and we got what we deserved.”
LUKA TROLLS REF IN BIG WIN OVER HEAT
In Dallas, the Mavericks’ MVP candidate Luka Doncic scored 34 points — making five of his eight three-point attempts — with 12 rebounds and seven assists in a 115-90 rout of the Miami Heat.
Doncic also trolled the officials at one point, called for a carry on one play but later following it up with a stepback 3-pointer and letting the refs know how he felt.
Australian Josh Green also continued to improve in his return from injury, scoring 12 points to go with five rebounds and three assists.
The Mavs needed little else offensively as they stepped things up on the defensive end to snap a three-game skid.
Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 18 points and Tyler Herro added 16 as star Jimmy Butler was held to 12.
Elsewhere, Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 131-126 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
In Atlanta, the Hawks used a fourth-quarter scoring burst to break open a close game, pulling away for a 139-124 victory over the New York Knicks.
Dejounte Murray scored 29 points and Trae Young added 27 for the Hawks, who led 102-101 going into the final period, which they opened on a 20-4 scoring run to take a 17-point lead.
Julius Randle paced New York with 32 points but was scoreless in the fourth quarter.
The Orlando Magic also finished strong, out-scoring the injury-depleted New Orleans Pelicans 35-19 in the fourth quarter for a 123-110 home victory.
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KYRIE EXPLODES WHEN NETS NEED IT MOST
Kyrie Irving kept up the red-hot form he found Friday against the Suns — and he showed the Nets actually can win a game without Kevin Durant.
Irving poured in a game-high 48 points and the Nets pulled out a 117-106 victory over the Jazz before a sellout crowd of 18,206 at Vivint Arena. And unlike a night earlier at Phoenix, this time Irving’s brilliance was more than enough.
He scored the most points by a net this season, hit a season-high eight 3-pointers, tied his season high with 11 rebounds and added six assists. In short, he did it all, and he did it when the Nets needed it most — pouring in 21 points in the fourth quarter alone.
The back-and-forth affair was knotted at 102-all after a Jordan Clarkson basket with 3:18 left, but Irving responded with a 3-pointer just 17 seconds later to give the Nets a lead they never surrendered. Center Nic Claxton (20 points, five rebounds) then blocked Clarkson on Utah’s next trip downcourt, and Seth Curry hit another 3-pointer to make it 108-102 with 2:18 remaining.
The Nets (28-17) finished the game off and made sure it didn’t get to overtime. The win snapped an 0-4 skid since Kevin Durant went down on Jan. 8 in Miami with a sprained right MCL. Durant is still in a knee brace, and won’t be reevaluated until early next week.