LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Golden State star Stephen Curry celebrated his 33rd birthday Sunday with a 32-point performance that propelled the Warriors to a 131-119 victory over the NBA-leading Utah Jazz and snapped a four-game skid.
Curry got off to a sizzling start, connecting on 63 percent of his shots in a 14-point first quarter in which the Warriors seized a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
He finished 10-of-20 from the field with six three-pointers.
”It’s like that ageing wine, right?” Curry said. ”Keep it in the cellar and watch it get stronger and better, so I’m just enjoying the ride.”
Andrew Wiggins added 28 points and Draymond Green put up a triple-double of 11 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists for the Warriors, who bounced back from a 130-104 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday in which Curry made just one three-pointer.
The Warriors hadn’t won since February 26 – before the NBA’s All-Star break.
They also reversed their fortunes against a Jazz team that had beaten them five straight times.
”Our whole team played amazing tonight,” Curry said. ”We took it personally to come out and play aggressive, focused defence. Everybody contributed.”
In Oklahoma City, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 30 points and Serbian rookie Aleksej Pokusevski added a career-high 23 as the Thunder beat the Memphis Grizzlies 128-122 despite having just nine available players.
Trailing by 10 going into the fourth quarter, Oklahoma City scored 38 points in the final frame, their 58 percent overall shooting helping them offset 24 turnovers.
A three-pointer from Pokusevski gave the Thunder a 109-108 lead with 6:10 remaining and they wouldn’t trail again.
The 19-year-old made five from beyond the arc, the second-youngest player after LeBron James, when he was 18, to make five three-pointers in a game.
”My teammates believe in me,” Pokusevski said. ”They kept talking to me, every time I missed a shot (they said) just keep playing and everything is going to be good.
”When I have teammates like that, everything’s great.”
”Poku” also pulled down 10 rebounds, surpassing former NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant as the youngest player in franchise history to notch a double-double.
Elsewhere, the Philadelphia 76ers had Aussie guard Ben Simmons back in action for the first time since a positive coronavirus test forced him out of the All-Star Game in a 134-99 beat-down of the San Antonio Spurs.
Despite the absence of Joel Embiid, who suffered a bone bruise in his knee in an awkward landing from a dunk on Friday, the Sixers dominated in their fifth straight win, improving their Eastern Conference-leading record to 27-12.
The Sixers were relieved the injury wasn’t worse than first feared.
”He was happy that it isn’t as bad as a lot of people thought it was, probably including himself,” Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said.
”Now that he knows all it takes is rehab, he has a game plan, we have a game plan and we’re moving forward with it.”
Tobias Harris led Philadelphia with 23 points. Seth Curry added 21, Danny Green had 16 and Simmons chipped in 14.
Up by eight at half-time, the 76ers effectively put the game out of reach with 46 points in the third quarter. They pushed their lead to as many as 42 in a fourth period as the starters for both teams were pulled.
Some 3,000 spectators, the first allowed in Philly’s arena since the pandemic began, were on hand to enjoy the romp.
Chicago 118, Toronto 95
New Orleans 135, LA Clippers 115
Atlanta 100, Cleveland 82
Miami 102, Orlando 97
Boston 134, Houston 107
Minnesota 114, Portland 112
Philadelphia 134, San Antonio 99
Golden State 131, Utah 119
Oklahoma City 128, Memphis 122