The Golden State Warriors made it an even dozen wins to start the NBA season on Tuesday, but their 115-110 victory over the Toronto Raptors was no cakewalk.
The reigning NBA champion Warriors looked to be on cruise control when they rolled to an 18-point lead in the first half.
But they had to battle to hang on for the win as the Raptors, led by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, rallied to take a two-point lead with 5:54 to play on two free throws by Lowry.
The free throws capped a 10-1 scoring run that saw the Raptors erase a seven-point deficit.
However, the Warriors immediately countered with a surge of their own, triggered by an Andrew Bogut dunk on a lob from Draymond Green.
Stephen Curry’s basket with 1:28 to play built the Warriors’ lead back to five points.
But it had dwindled again to one, at 109-108, and the Raptors had the ball with 24.6 seconds remaining.
Lowry committed a foul with a moving screen with 15.4 seconds left to turn the ball over.
Golden State made six free throws in the final 12 seconds to seal the win, Curry making four of them to complete a 37-point, nine-assist game.
“It was actually too close down the stretch, but we got the job done,” said Curry, whose Warriors are closing in on the all-time best season start of 15-0, achieved by Washington in 1948-49 and the Houston Rockets in 1993-94.
Shooting guard Klay Thompson, back from a one-game absence with a sore back, added 19 points for the Warriors and Australia’s Bogut chipped in 13. Golden State’s 53.8 percent shooting helped them overcome a 30-18 deficit at the foul line.
Lowry and DeRozan scored 28 points each for the Raptors, who lost to the Warriors for the 10th straight time.
With the win, the Warriors tied their club record for consecutive regular-season wins with 16 — a streak dating back to last season.
It was their 25th straight regular-season home win.
– Cavs drop second straight –
The Cleveland Cavaliers, who fell to the Warriors in last season’s NBA Finals, dropped their second straight game — falling 104-99 at Detroit in a performance that had superstar LeBron James calling on his teammates to toughen up.
“We’re too relaxed, too nice,” said James, who scored a game-high 30 points and passed Jerry West for 19th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
James, who went into the contest needing 10 points to pass West’s total of 25,192 points, reached the milestone with a three-pointer in the first quarter.
He finished the game with 25,213, but instead of celebrating the achievement James was chastising his Cavs teammates for seeming complacent against a Pistons team that snapped a four-game losing streak.
“We’re not entitled to a win, we’re not entitled to being Eastern Conference champions,” he said. “That’s last year.”
– Timberwolves douse Heat –
The Minnesota Timberwolves welcomed Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio back from a hamstring injury with a 103-91 victory over the Heat in Miami.
Andrew Wiggins scored a game-high 24 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 14 points and 14 rebounds as the Timberwolves rallied for the victory despite a triple-double of 22 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocked shots by Heat center Hassan Whiteside.
– Pelicans lose Davis in defeat –
The New Orleans Pelicans’ injury woes got even worse on Tuesday as All-Star forward Anthony Davis departed midway through the fourth quarter of their 115-98 loss to the Denver Nuggets with a left shoulder injury.
The Pelicans lost for the 10th time in 11 games, and coach Alvin Gentry said he didn’t know if Davis would be able to play on Wednesday at Oklahoma City. – Agence France-Presse