Takeaways: Golden State's defense leads Warriors past spirited Heat
Golden State used a strong second half to hold off Miami on Tuesday night
It wasn't pretty but the Golden State Warriors were able to fend off a feisty Miami Heat team 107-95. With Golden State playing down to the competition, the Heat gave them fits throughout the night but a strong second half ensured victory for the Warriors, who have won two straight and improved to 33-6.
That Warriors defense: The Warriors were actually losing to the Heat for most of the first half as Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic led Miami. Yet that all changed in the third quarter when the Warriors ratcheted up their defensive effort.
Golden State held Miami to 14 points on 25 percent shooting. The Warriors also outscored the Heat by 12 points in the third and closed the quarter on 10-2 run to take a nine-point lead into the fourth.
KD and Steph let it fly: With Klay Thompson missing the game due to rest and still recovering from an illness, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry took more than their normal amount of shots. And while both weren't as efficient as they usually are, the two Warriors stars did make an impact with their scoring.
Durant led the Warriors with 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting. He also had eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
Curry was less efficient than Durant but finished with 24 points on 8-of-21 shooting. He shot 4 for 11 from deep and was 4 for 5 from the free-throw line.
Dunk of the game: Curry's shooting might have been off due to James Johnson dunking on him at the end of the first quarter:
Missing Klay: Even though the Warriors won, this game showcased how important Thompson is to Golden State. The Warriors started rookie Patrick McCaw and he took only three shots and finished with three points, nowhere near Thompson's average of 21.3 points. Golden State did play Ian Clark more than McCaw and although he played well (10 points on 4-of-9 shooting), again, he's no Klay Thompson.
The Warriors also missed Thompson on the defensive end. Without Thompson's strong perimeter defense, Goran Dragic (17 points) and Tyler Johnson (18 points) were able to get past Curry and McCaw on several occasions.
Golden State can get by without Thompson against the struggling Heat, but they certainly need him in the lineup to be successful against better teams.
Good Whiteside: The Warriors had no answer for Hassan Whiteside, who essentially kept Miami in the game by himself. Whiteside finished the game with 28 points on 13-of-17 shooting, 20 rebounds and two blocks. Golden State might have been missing Thompson but it is still an elite defensive team with Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, yet Whiteside just punished the Warriors in the paint.
This was Whiteside's fourth 20-20 game of the season and the sixth of his career.
Sequence of the game: Thanks to the hustle of Zaza Pachulia, the Warriors completed this clutch fast break in the fourth quarter to effectively put away the Heat:
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