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The Warriors jump out in front early and hold on late to defeat the Brooklyn Nets in the second game of a back-to-back

With Kevin Durant missing the game, Stephen Curry scores 39 points and leads the Warriors to a 118-111 victory

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NBA: Golden State Warriors at Brooklyn Nets Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of an impressive come-from-behind victory against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night, the Warriors traveled to Brooklyn to play the second game of a back-to-back on Sunday against the Nets. If playing two games in two nights wasn’t tough enough, the Warriors would be short-handed as Kevin Durant was out of the lineup to rest his ankle, which he sprained against the 76ers. With the Nets coming into this game with a 6-9 record and near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, there looked to be some trap potential with this game. Though both teams would combine to make it interesting in the final quarter, ultimately the Warriors would dominate most of the game and earn a 118-111 victory.

Chef Curry was cookin’ in Brooklyn

With Durant sitting this game out, everyone expected Stephen Curry to have one of his signature absurd offensive performances. It was clear in the first quarter that Curry had rebounded from his brief offensive slump against the Celtics and for parts of the win over the 76ers and was going to light up the scoreboard.

Curry scored 13 points in the first quarter and his offensive proficiency continued into the second. Here he is scoring 3 of his 9 points on an outstanding step-back 3-pointer.

Curry’s effect on this game was not limited to his scoring. In addition to the game-high 39 points he scored, Curry also recorded 11 rebounds (a season-high), 7 assists, and 3 steals. It was an impressive and well-rounded performance, as Curry finished just three assists shy of a triple-double.

Curry’s final basket of the night was perhaps his most spectacular and it came as the Nets were making a run, having cut the Warriors’ lead to six.

That circus-style layup gave the Warriors an eight-point lead as they looked poised to pull away again and seal the victory.

However, Curry’s foul troubles made another untimely appearance in this game. He picked up his fifth foul at the end of the third quarter, causing him to sit the remained of the third and much of the fourth (when the Nets made a run to get back into the game). Curry reentered the game with 6:41 left to play but, after making that remarkable layup to put the Warriors up by 8, earned his sixth personal foul on this charge with three minutes left in the game.

It was definitely a tough call for the official to make, especially with it being Curry’s sixth. But his night was over prematurely and the game still hung in the balance. Even though Curry exited the game early, his performance was amongst his best for this season and we saw him get back on track offensively after some recent struggles.

Casspi and the bench step up with Durant out

With Durant missing Sunday’s game, head coach Steve Kerr selected Omri Casspi to take his place in the starting lineup. Much like Curry’s impressive first quarter, Casspi would start the game out with a good stretch of basketball.

Casspi ended the game with 12 points along with 8 rebounds in a season-high 23 minutes of action, helping the Warriors to take the lead early in the game. It was an impressive performance from the new free-agent acquisition as he continues to earn more and more minutes in Kerr’s rotations.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Brooklyn Nets
Filling in for Kevin Durant in the starting lineup, Omri Casspi scored 12 points to go with his 8 rebounds as the Warriors defeating the Brooklyn Nets 118-111 on Sunday night
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors also received nice contributions from other bench players, helping to make up for Durant’s absence. Nick Young continued his hot shooting of late by coming off the bench and scoring 8 points, going 2-for-4 from 3-point range.

Andre Iguodala also had a good game against the Nets, finishing with a season-high 12 points that included a season-high two 3-pointers. Iguodala played on the Warriors second unit that pushed the lead from 12 at the end of first quarter to 17 midway through the second while Curry was able to rest on the bench.

Between Iguodala and David West, who had 2 points, 2 assists, 2 defensive rebounds, and 2 blocks before subbing out at the 6:32 mark of the second quarter, the Warriors continued to have the “steady second unit” that The Athletic’s Anthony Slater highlighted in his recap of the game against the 76ers. That steady second unit allowed the Warriors to build on their first quarter lead and increase it to a 22-point lead at the half.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Brooklyn Nets
Andre Iguodala would score a season-high 12 points against Brooklyn, playing well on a second unit that was able to expand a first half lead with Curry on the bench
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Another player who continued his string of impressive play against the Nets was Kevon Looney. In 12 minutes of playing time, Looney scored 4 points to go with his 3 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Looney continues to be one of the biggest surprises for the Warriors thus far this season, as he went from a marginal player seemingly on the verge of being released to someone who is a part of Kerr’s rotations. One wonders how long Looney can continue to get these minutes, but it is nice to see him playing well and getting time to shine on the court.

Shooting woes hinder the Nets

While the Warriors defense was tenacious for the bulk of Sunday’s game, they were aided by some remarkably cold shooting by the Nets. The Nets shot 35.8% from the field on Sunday, well below their season average of 43.9%. They were even colder in the first half of the game, only shooting 28% when the halftime buzzer sounded. Between cold shooting and untimely turnovers (the bulk of which came as the Warriors amassed their large leads), the Nets were unable to get much going in the way of offense early in the game.

Allen Crabbe led the team with 25 points on 9-for-19 shooting, but the bulk of those came in the third and fourth quarters as the Nets scrambled to overcome a large deficit. Though the Warriors played well and dominated the game, the Nets did themselves no favors by digging an even bigger hole that they would have to try and climb out of.

The game gets interesting in the fourth

While the Warriors led by as much as 28 points, the game became much tighter in the fourth quarter. After cutting the halftime lead in half at the end of the third, the Nets continued to claw back into the game in the fourth. Part of why the Nets were able to cut the Warriors lead came from their ability to get to the free-throw lines. The Nets shot 14 free throws in the fourth quarter, using their ability to drive, draw contact, and get to the line to get back into the game. Spencer Dinwiddie shot 7 of his game-high 13 free throws in the fourth, as he ended the game with 21 points along with 8 assists. Dinwiddie and Crabbe both recovered from slow starts and poor shooting to score 15 points in the fourth, helping the Nets to cut the lead to as little as five.

With Curry on the bench having fouled out, his fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson picked up the slack and knocked down some critical shots in the game’s waning minutes to clinch the Warriors victory.

Thompson scored 11 points in the final quarter, 7 coming in during the final two minutes as he, along with some stellar defense from Draymond Green, capped the Warriors victory. Thompson, much like Curry, was able to contribute in ways that went beyond scoring.

Earning his first double-double since the 2014-2015 season, Thompson again showed that he’s developing into a well-rounded player who can contribute in many facets of the game rather than just being a spot-up shooter. While Curry helped the Warriors amass a big lead, it was Thompson and Green (5 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks) that helped them stay in front as the Nets made their last big run.

The Warriors now have two days off before playing in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night against Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and the Thunder in what promises to be an exciting and emotional game.

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