Embiid outshines James; KD delivers
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Kevin Durant scored a game-high 39 points as the NBA champion Golden State Warriors rallied from an early 19-point deficit to edge the Miami Heat 120-118 on Sunday.
DeMarcus Cousins sank two free throws with 5.4 seconds left to play to help the Warriors hold off the Heat, who fell eight behind in the fourth quarter but took a 118-115 lead with 51.5 seconds left after back-to-back steals and baskets from Josh Richardson and Dwyane Wade.
Durant responded with his first three-pointer of the contest – after six misses from beyond the arc – to tie the game and Cousins made his free throws to seal the Warriors’ 15th win in their last 16 games.
”We knew it was going to be a game they came out and played hard on both ends of the court,” Durant said.
”They came out and hit us in the mouth early, but I like how we withstood the storm and kept fighting.”
Durant said there was no mystery to the Warriors’ comeback, fueled by a 12-0 scoring run early in the third quarter.
”We were just locked in, playing our brand,” he said. ”We moved the ball, we made shots after a while – it took us a while to wake up on Sunday.”
Klay Thompson scored 29 points for the Warriors and Stephen Curry, after a rocky first quarter with just three points, finished with 25.
Josh Richardson led the Heat with 37 points. Veteran Dwyane Wade added 10 off the bench, two days after a frighting fall in Sacramento.
”He’s built like Captain America,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Joel Embiid scored 37 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to power the Philadelphia 76ers over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers 143-120 in a matchup of high-profile NBA clubs.
The 24-year-old Cameroon 7-footer (2.13m) was supported by 22 points from Tobias Harris and 21 more from JJ Redick in a romp over LeBron James and the Lakers, who fell to 28-28.
At 36-20, the 76ers pulled within 5.5 games of Eastern Conference leader Milwaukee as Embiid pondered the team’s title hopes.
”We’ve got a chance, especially this year. We’ve got to keep working,” he said. ”I plan on being here for a long time. This is my city.”
A trade with the Los Angeles Clippers added Harris to the lineup and Embiid likes the move even though new players must adjust to the 76ers in mid-season.
”I think we got better,” Embiid said. ”These new guys, we’ve got to teach them the new system, but I think we’re going to be great.”
Every Embiid rebound came on the defensive boards, with the African star already seeing himself as the NBA’s top defender.