Stephen Curry scored 36 points, David Lee posted 32 and the Golden State Warriors extended their winning streak to seven games with a 123-114 victory over the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday night.
The Warriors led for most of the way and were in front by as much as 15 in the second half, overcoming 20 turnovers.
Golden State shot a scorching 56 percent from the floor and knocked down 15 of its 29 attempts from three-point range. The Warriors dropped 38 points in the first quarter, the most points allowed by the Heat in any quarter this season.
Performances like this is why the Warriors are so dangerous. Questions is whether they can play this way consistently. If they can...— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) January 3, 2014
Miami shot 51 percent overall, but it was unable to outlast the three-point barrage by the Warriors, as the Heat hit only eight triples.
LeBron James led the Heat with 26 points, but he also committed eight turnovers.
Key Player Grades
Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry, Point Guard
Curry was nothing short of sensational against Miami.
The floor general dazzled for 36 points off 13-of-22 shooting, knocking down eight of his 15 three-point tries. He also handed out 12 assists, making some magnificent passes and demonstrating his improved court vision.
Where Curry really exploded was in the third period, lighting up the Heat for 14 points as the crowd at AmericanAirlines Arena fawned over the wonder kid.
The gasp every time Steph Curry touches the ball has started in Miami.— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) January 3, 2014
Curry got a few open looks, but most of his makes were well-contested shots that only Steph could drain.
Wade on Curry: "A lot of times we were in his jersey, and he still made it. He's special. That's why that team has shot to come out of WC."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) January 3, 2014
Oh, and Curry added four steals to his stat sheet.
OK, Steph Curry is ridiculous.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) January 3, 2014
At this point, though, are we really surprised by these types of performances from the Warriors superstar?
We certainly shouldn't be.
Klay Thompson, Shooting Guard
It wasn't a scintillating outing by Klay Thompson, but it was good enough.
The other half of the Splash Brothers recorded 16 points, going 6-of-15 from the floor and burying four treys in nine attempts.
Thompson provided a solid alternative to Curry, doing a fine job of spotting up from behind the arc to represent an outlet for his backcourt mate.
Klay also dished out four assists in 38 minutes.
Andre Iguodala, Small Forward
When you look at the box score, Andre Iguodala doesn't really stand out.
Eight points, six rebounds, six assists. Decent numbers? Sure. Eye-popping? Hardly.
But if you've been watching Iguodala for an extended period of time, you'd know that his impact does not show up on the stat sheet.
Where Iggy made his imprint on Thursday night was defensively against James.
The small forward played a significant role in many of LeBron's eight turnovers, staying with him on drives and getting a hand on the basketball when James tried to take it to the rack.
Iguodala is one of the few wings in this league with the blend of size, strength and athleticism to adequately defend the best player in the world, and he showed that in this one.
Throw in the fact that he knocked down both of his three-point attempts, and it all adds up to a very effective night for the veteran.
David Lee, Power Forward
As good as Curry was, Lee may have been the most dominant player on the floor Thursday night.
As I figured, Wade and Heat talked about how biggest problem was the way they let David Lee ran free.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) January 3, 2014
Lee got off to a sizzling start, scoring 13 points off 5-of-5 shooting in the first quarter. He continued his high level of play throughout, finishing with 32 points on 13-of-17 shooting, taking full advantage of the smaller Shane Battier early on and then going right at Chris Bosh in the second half.
I wonder when's the last time Chris Bosh has been dominated like David Lee dominated him tonight— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) January 3, 2014
Any time the Warriors needed a bucket to stave off a Heat rally, Lee was there, maneuvering his way inside for nifty layups or backing his man down and finishing with a hook shot.
Lee was also an animal on the boards, hauling in 14 rebounds.
Plus, the Golden State forward flashed his great ball-handling skills, dishing out three dimes and passing well throughout.
Quite simply, Lee put on a clinic.
Andrew Bogut, Center
Andrew Bogut got off to a very good start, going 3-of-3 in the first quarter and doing a great job of working the inside passing game with Lee.
However, due to the fast-paced nature of the contest and the fact that the Heat are a small-ball team, Bogut didn't see much time for the remainder of the night.
The Warriors big man played 18 minutes, registering six points and three rebounds.
Harrison Barnes, Sixth Man
Harrison Barnes did just about all of his damage in the first half against the Heat, posting 11 of his 15 points in the first 24 minutes.
Harrison Barnes is having himself a good start of the game against #Heat. Being aggressive off the bounce.— J.M. Poulard (@ShyneIV) January 3, 2014
That production was much needed, too, since the game was close at the time.
Barnes utilized his quick first step to beat his defender to the basket (no matter who it was) numerous times, and he got to the free-throw line seven times as a result. He went 6-of-7 at the stripe.
The second-year forward shot 4-of-6 from the field in 27 minutes.
Iguodala wasn't the only Warrior who played stout defense on LeBron. Draymond Green was also in on it.
The stocky Green did an outstanding job of putting a body on James and deflecting the ball away from the Heat superstar a couple of times in the post.
Green was solid on the glass, too, pulling down seven boards in 25 minutes. He chipped in four points and three assists as well.
Marreese Speights contributed four points and Kent Bazemore threw in two.
But forget Speights and Bazemore. The Dubs bench is getting this grade thanks to the gritty performance by Green.
LeBron James, Small Forward
James may want to forget that this game ever happened, because it certainly wasn't one of his better ones.
While LeBron did tally 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, he turned the ball over a season-high eight times. He was clearly bothered by the defense of Iguodala and Green, and the Warriors as a whole did an outstanding job of keeping him out of the paint and forcing him to start his offense from the perimeter.
Also, with the Heat down six with about three minutes to go, James missed two crucial free throws which completely killed any momentum that Miami had built. From that point on, Golden State took over.
LeBron registered a minus-11 in his 40 minutes.
For the lofty standards to which we hold James, this wasn't a great outing by him.
Dwyane Wade, Shooting Guard
Outside of missing an easy transition layup that he probably makes 999 out of 1,000 times, Dwyane Wade was solid in this one.
The 2-guard recorded 22 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals in a very balanced performance. He shot 9-of-18 from the floor and even buried a couple of threes in 36 minutes of action.
Wade evenly distributed his scoring, too, scoring 12 in the first half and 10 over the final 24 minutes.
Chris Bosh, Center
Bosh was great in the first half. The Heat big man scored 17 points off 6-of-10 shooting, hurting the Warriors with his mid-range jumper and helping keep Miami in the game despite Golden State's red-hot offense.
Well, all of that changed in the second half.
Bosh failed to register a field goal over the final two quarters, going 0-of-6 and scoring only two points from the charity stripe.
What up with Bosh and these soft attempts at the rim ? #fox— Freeman and Fox (@TheSportsBros) January 3, 2014
Bosh had his hands full with Lee on the defensive end, as the Warriors power forward really took it to him.
To make matters worse, Bosh's impact on the glass was limited (four rebounds), and he was nonexistent as a rim-protector.
Mario Chalmers, Point Guard
Mario Chalmers had an effective outing.
The Miami point guard scored 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds in the process. Plus, he didn't commit a single turnover in 32 minutes.
It's also hard to blame Chalmers for Curry going off, as, again, many of the shots he hit were contested.
Shane Battier, Power Forward
Shane Battier had one of his best performances of the season offensively, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting and knocking down three triples.
However, Battier struggled mightily defensively. Lee had his way with him in the post and also ate him up on the glass.
The Miami veteran posted a minus-11 in 23 minutes.
Ray Allen, Sixth Man
Outside of a throwback dunk that resulted in a three-point play, this was a quiet night for Ray Allen.
The sharpshooter scored only five points, going 1-of-4 and misfiring on his only long-range attempt of the contest.
Allen also didn't grab a single rebound in 20 minutes.
Norris Cole brought some energy off the Heat bench, hounding Curry on the perimeter for short bursts and scoring seven points.
Cole played a pivotal role in Miami's run to get back into the game in the fourth quarter, stopping Curry on a couple of possessions and helping the Heat get out in transition.
Unfortunately, the rest of the bench wasn't there with Cole.
Outside of a short stretch in the second quarter, Michael Beasley had a mistake-prone outing, committing four fouls and four turnovers in 13 minutes.
Chris Andersen was also largely absent in his 17 minutes, tallying two points and two rebounds.
What's Next for the Warriors?
The Warriors have now won the first three games of their seven-game Eastern Conference road trip, and fortunately for them, they have the toughest one by far out of the way.
They actually don't really play a very tough team until Jan. 17, when they go to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder.
What's Next for the Heat?
Miami's schedule is a breeze for most of January.
The Heat don't play a team with a winning record until the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 20. That's when things get a little tougher, as after playing the Hawks, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, the Heat close out the month against the San Antonio Spurs and Thunder.
Until then, though, it should be smooth sailing for the two-time defending champions.