By Rob Johnson
Special to S.F. Examiner
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — For the third time in the last three games, the Golden State Warriors got a pair of virtuoso performances from Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. For the third time in the last three games, the Warriors won. For the first time this season, though, the Warriors have had to fend off a late charge.
Leading 93-77 entering the fourth-quarter on Sunday night, in the middle of a three-game road trip, Golden State saw the Brooklyn Nets reel off a 37-point quarter, closing what was a 19-point lead to just two, with a D’Angelo Russell layup with 1:55 to go.
Durant then hit a 16-foot pull-up off a Curry assist, and Curry drained a 25-foot three, helping fend off the late charge as the Warriors rallied to a 120-114 win. Curry set a new NBA record, he and Durant each scored 30 points in the same game for the third time this season — the fifth time in their tenure together –t and Golden State continues to ride an offensive high.
The Warriors allowed Brooklyn to hit 20 3-pointers on the night, but Curry by himself hit seven, making five or more 3-pointers for the seventh straight game — a new NBA record. He finished with a game-high 35 points, going 7-of-15 from distance.
“They got hot in the fourth and tried to make it interesting, but we made enough plays down the stretch to obviously get the win,”Curry said.
Durant was right behind Curry with 34 points on 11-for-20 shooting, grabbed a game-high 8 rebounds and adding 6 assists. He’s now scored 30 or more points in each of his last three games, shooting 41-of-62 from the field (66.1 percent).
“I think we are both just coming into the game trying to focus on how hard we can play on both ends and our offense is starting to come around,” said Durant on his and Curry’s early-season chemistry. “I think we’re just making shots. I think we’re playing faster, the game is a little faster. We are getting out in transition a lot and just making shots.”
Every time the Warriors were on the cusp of stretching their lead to 20, the Nets kept clawing their way back.
“I thought the Nets battled the whole way,” head coach Steve Kerr explained. “We had them on the ropes several times. I think we were up 19 late in the third-quarter, Brooklyn hit a big 3-pointer to end the third and two to start the fourth quarter, get them right back into the game.
The Nets were led by D’Angelo Russell’s 25 points and Caris Levert added another 23 points. This past off-season, Levert looked to improve his game by working out with Durant, the two-time NBA Finals MVP.
“Obviously, he’s a very tough matchup,” Levert said. “He has a lot of things differently he can do. He’s a very crafty player, so obviously myself and other guys on the team, young guys especially, he’s someone who definitely we are chasing to be better than for sure.”
Now 6-1, at this time last year, Golden State was 4-3 through their first seven games, and had yet to see Curry miss 31 games due to injury, or Draymond Green — who had a season-high 13 assists and five steals on Sunday — miss time due to his own litany of injuries.
“We’ve talked about it. We’ve been open about it as a team,” Curry said. “We kind of set mini-goals to start off the season better. We’re playing with a lot more focus and more discipline and better than we did last year. That’s a good vibe to have as you go through the 82.”