Steph Curry turned on the style as the Golden State Warriors overcame a brave Houston Rockets fightback to triumph 123-110 and stretch their winning streak to 10 games on Tuesday.
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Curry scored 35 points in a pulsating battle in Oakland to take the Warriors’ record to 47-4 for the season.
The highlight of Curry’s latest masterclass was his role in a remarkable passage of play in the third quarter, when he stripped the ball inside the Warriors paint and then darted forward to launch an attack.
An incredible behind-the-back pass found Andre Iguodala, who flipped to Leandro Barbosa to score.
The Rockets had fought back after a disastrous first quarter which saw the Warriors jump out to a 38-22 lead after only 11 minutes.
Houston rallied however with James Harden (37 points) and led 74-69 early in the second half.
Curry’s 35-point night came despite 12-for-24 shooting for the Warriors, who improved to 24-0 at home this season with their 42nd consecutive victory at Oracle Arena.
Curry made seven three-pointers along with nine assists. Warriors’ Australian center Andrew Bogut added 13 points while blocking six shots.
The contest tipped decisively back in the Warriors’ favor when unheralded forward Harrison Barnes rose from the bench to score 10 points during a 17-5 run early in the fourth quarter.
“Our bench really carried us tonight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “The surge from the bench to start the fourth quarter gave us the separation we needed.”
The Warriors now have the Chicago Bulls’ remarkable 72-win season in their sights, a record benchmark long seen as unbeatable.
– ‘Tough business’ –
Elsewhere, Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points but it was not enough to prevent the New York Knicks from sliding to defeat against the Washington Wizards in their first match since the dismissal of coach Derek Fisher.
Anthony drained a three-pointer with 67 seconds left to reduce Washington’s lead to 106-101 but the Wizards held on for a 111-108 victory at Madison Square Garden.
Washington guards Bradley Beal and John Wall made a series of clutch shots down the stretch to seal the Wizards win.
Beal amassed 26 points while Wall weighed in with 28 points, 15 of them coming in an important fourth-quarter cameo.
In-form rookie forward Kristaps Porzingis finished with 20 points for the Knicks, who abruptly axed Fisher on Monday to replace him with assistant Kurt Rambis.
Anthony said shortly before tipoff that the Knicks locker room had been taken by surprise by team president Phil Jackson’s decision to dump Fisher.
“This was something that I don’t really know if it was a quick decision or was lingering,” said Anthony.
“I’m not going to try to figure that part out but everybody found out as far as players around the same time yesterday morning.”
Fisher was fired after the Knicks went on a protracted losing streak with nine losses in 10 games, including Sunday’s defeat to the Denver Nuggets.
“It’s tough,” Anthony said. “When I wrap my brain around it and put everything into perspective, it’s hard with how many coaches I’ve been through, how many players, how many different teammates.
“You just try to find some kind of consistency. The business of basketball is a tough business.” – Agence France-Presse