The Golden State Warriors notched their 50th win of the NBA season in record-setting style, thwarting a Hawks rally to triumph 102-92 in Atlanta on Monday.
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry scored 36 points for the Warriors, who wasted a 23-point third-quarter lead but held on to grab win number 50 in their 55th game of the season.
That eclipsed the record of 56 games needed by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls needed to reach 50 wins – another encouraging sign for a Warriors team bent on beating the record 72-10 regular-season mark put up by those Michael Jordan-led Bulls.
“We’re right on track,” Curry said. “We’re not complacent, (we’re ) trying to get better, finding different ways to win.
“We understand our potential, but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves,” Curry added. “Fifty wins is great, but we’ve got to keep plugging away and stay hungry.”
Curry connected on 14 of 22 from the field and made five of 11 three-pointers. He has made a three-pointer in 126 consecutive regular-season contests, one shy of matching the all-time record held by Atlanta’s Kyle Korver.
Klay Thompson added another five three-pointers for the Warriors, scoring 12 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter as Golden State battled back after seeing the Hawks gain an unlikely lead.
The game looked as if it would be a blowout until the third quarter. Golden State led 58-30 at halftime and built the cushion to 70-47 on Curry’s drive to the basket with 6:58 left in the third quarter.
But with centre Al Horford and guard Dennis Schroder scoring eight points apiece, the Hawks responded with a 28-6 scoring run that pulled them to within a point heading into the fourth.
They took the lead on a basket by Horford and led 80-76 on a three-pointer from Thabo Sefolosha.
But Golden State regained control with a 17-4 scoring run.
Golden State centre Andrew Bogut, back after missing a game with a sore Achilles tendon, had three of his five blocked shots in the fourth to help the Warriors seal it.
PISTONS SHOCK CAVS
As the Warriors continued their march toward the post-season, Eastern Conference leaders Cleveland were up-ended on their home floor, falling 96-88 to the Detroit Pistons.
Reggie Jackson scored 23 points and centre Andre Drummond had 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Pistons, who had 59 points dropped on them by New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis on Sunday but bounced back to end the Cavaliers’ five-game winning streak.
Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 19 points, coming up with a big late steal from Cavaliers star LeBron James that resulted in a basket.
James’s 12 points matched his season low as the Cavaliers came out flat a day after handing the Oklahoma City Thunder their worst defeat of the season.
Cleveland turned the ball over 18 times and were ineffective at both ends of the floor.
“We lacked energy, starting with myself, all the way down to everybody else,” James said.
Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving scored 30 points – a day after sitting out much of the game at Oklahoma city with what the team called flu-like symptoms. Irving said he was sickened and sleep deprived after finding bed bugs in his Oklahoma hotel room.
– Heat hold off Pacers –
In Miami, the Heat welcomed veteran Dwyane Wade back to action with a 101-93 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Wade, who missed the previous two games with knee soreness, connected on four of 21 from the field, but set the Heat up for overtime with two free throws in the waning seconds of regulation.
Goran Dragic scored 24 points for the Heat and Hassan Whiteside came off the bench to score 19 points with 18 rebounds and six blocked shots as Miami withstood a 31-point performance from Pacers forward Paul George.