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‘Best defensive effort’ carries Warriors past Heat

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Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) was held to three points against the Golden State Warriors on Monday. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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OAKLAND — In recent weeks, Kevin Durant has noticed Draymond Green putting up extra 3-pointers after practice and shootaround. Green said he’s been working on shot dating back to the summer.

On Monday night, in the Golden State Warriors’ 97-80 win over the Miami Heat, that work paid off.

Green went for a season-high 18 points and tied his season-best with four triples as the Warriors handled the Heat.

“When he knocks down that shot, he makes us unstoppable, as far as spreading the floor,” Durant said.

The win over their Eastern Conference guests, the club’s fourth in as many games, marked the first time this season that the Warriors — the highest-scoring outfit in the league — have failed to eclipse the 100-point plateau.

Head coach Steve Kerr was far more focused on the team’s performance on the other side of the ball following the win.

“[I] thought it was our best defensive effort of the season,” Kerr said. “It was tremendous.”

On the uncharacteristically quiet offensive night, Durant was the high-point man, pouring in 21, while adding eight rebounds, six assists, three blocks and a steal.

Golden State had coasted to a 75-57 lead at the close of three quarters — even as the team shot just 36.4 percent from the field, down some 16 percent from the season average entering the evening.

The Warriors finished the outing against the Heat with a 37.2 percent field-goal percentage.

Despite a sputtering, 20-point first quarter, the Warriors had opened up a 50-37 advantage at the break.

Amid the wobbly first half, Green was the unlikely offensive hero, drilling three of his first four triples, as the rest of the squad combined to miss their first 10 long-range efforts.

Ice-cold start for Curry

Stephen Curry, the two-time MVP, slumped through a frigid first half, opening the game 1-for-9 from the field and 0-for-4 from distance as he totaled four points. Curry ended up with 13 points in 34 minutes (5-for-19 from the field, 2-for-9 from 3).

Curry did manage four assists, including a no-look, behind-the-back dish to Green who drained a 3-pointer.

Curry also posted the best plus-minus of the night — +25 — even as he struggled with his shot all night.

“Nights like tonight when you’re not shooting the ball well, you have to find another way to impact the game,” Curry said.

“I just do my job while I’m out there and hopefully good things will happen,” Curry added. “I’ll make a shot or two eventually, but I’ve got to do the other stuff for sure.”

Looney shines in the place of West

With David West resting, Kevon Looney got the chance to play 17 minutes, scoring five points, grabbing three boards, delivering a trio of blocks and impressing his boss in the process.

“Looney was tremendous tonight, defensively and staying in front of people and protecting the rim,” Kerr said. “It’s really fun to see him playing well and emerging.”

kbuscheck@sfexaminer.com

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