The Golden State Warriors bounced back from their Christmas Day loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 121-111 victory against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. The high score shouldn't surprise you -- this was a battle between the league's two best offensive teams this season. After his quiet afternoon in Cleveland, Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting, plus seven assists and seven rebounds.
Golden State responds yet again
The Warriors victory means they have now played 119 games since losing two straight, an NBA record. With that in mind, everybody expected them to start strong. I'm not sure anybody, however, would have predicted that Golden State would score 22 of the game's first 26 points or make the East's second-best team look completely out of their league like they did in the early going.
In the first quarter, the Warriors were as sharp as they've been at any point this season. They had only two turnovers, and they held Toronto without any fast-break points or points in the paint. The craziest thing about their 42-17 lead going into the second quarter, though? It was Golden State's seventh 40-point quarter of the season.
The most memorable moment from the near-perfect period: Curry celebrating Kevin Durant's 3-pointer before the shot is even in the air.
Steph gets his wish
At shootaround on Thursday, Curry told reporters he wanted to handle the ball more in pick-and-roll situations. It was obvious immediately that coach Steve Kerr listened to the superstar, with Kerr initiating much of the Warriors' offense with high pick-and-rolls.
This is not to say that Curry dominated the ball or called his own number more than usual. If anything, he made a deliberate point of drawing defensive attention and setting up his teammates.
Watching this made me want a Warriors-Cavs rematch already. I have to see if they refuse to let Cleveland take the ball out of Curry's hands next time. (They'll play again Jan. 16.)
The Raptors are pesky
This turned out to be a pretty impressive performance from Toronto. The beginning was ugly, but the Raptors, who are second in the league when it comes to opponent turnover percentage, went small and took advantage of Golden State's mistakes to keep things interesting. Toronto went on a 21-6 run to start the second quarter, and it was briefly a five-point game about three minutes before halftime. This was largely the product of Kyle Lowry (27 points, 11 assists, six rebounds), DeMar DeRozan (29 points, six assists, five rebounds) and Terrence Ross' (24 points, seven rebounds) making just about everything.
The Warriors ended the second quarter with an extremely Warriors-y 16-5 run and shot an absurd 74.4 percent in the first half. None of this discouraged the Raptors -- they went back and forth with Golden State for most of the second half and had a 15-2 run in the final frame to get back within five points. Had DeMarre Carroll and Ross not missed a pair of open 3s, maybe we would be talking about the Warriors blowing big leads in back-to-back fourth quarters.
Turnovers remain an issue
This wouldn't have even been close if the Warriors had limited their turnovers. Despite Kerr telling them that they had let their guard down and were being lazy with the ball in a second-quarter timeout (according to CSN's Ros Gold-Onwude), they kept throwing the ball away.
Consider this: Golden State scored 121.1 points per 100 possessions despite turning the ball over on 20 percent of their possessions, per NBA.com. That should be impossible, and it's a testament to how amazing the Warriors offense is. Kerr, however, might not see this in such a positive light.
DeRozan makes Raptors history
With a floater over Draymond Green in the second quarter, DeRozan scored his 10,276th point in the NBA. This was significant because it pushed him past Chris Bosh to become Toronto's all-time leading scorer.
When Raptors held a press conference to announce his contract extension in July, DeRozan declared, "I am Toronto." This is his eighth season in a Raptors uniform, and he has established himself as one of the franchise's most important players. He was 20 years old with one year of professional experience when Bosh left for the Miami Heat in 2010, and few people in Toronto saw this kind of success coming for either DeRozan or the team.
Durant denies DeMar
DeRozan drove to the basket late in the fourth quarter with the intention of cramming down a huge dunk. Durant, though, had other ideas. He met DeRozan at the summit, blocked it cleanly and effectively ended the game:
This was Durant's fifth block of the game, to go with his 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting, 17 rebounds and seven assists. Not bad.