Klay Thompson had 43 points on 18-of-29 shooting (7-of-16 from three-point range) and Stephen Curry added 14 points and 14 assists as the Golden State Warriors beat the New York Knicks 122-95 on Tuesday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
Mario Hezonja had 19 points for the 10-31 Knicks, who have lost 15 of their last 17 games. Enes Kanter added a 12-point, 16-rebound double-double.
The 27-14 Warriors have taken four of their last five.
Raptors Only Team Who Can Slow Full-Strength Warriors
The Warriors are just one game behind the Denver Nuggets for first place in the Western Conference despite (a) Stephen Curry missing 11 games, (b) Draymond Green sitting 14 games, (c) center DeMarcus Cousins sitting the entire first half of the season with a ruptured Achilles and (d) Green and Thompson both scuffling through shooting slumps.
Curry and Green are back. Cousins is looking to return on Jan. 18, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Green shot 48.7 percent in his five previous games leading into Tuesday, and Thompson has averaged 29.7 points per game in his last three contests. Sans Cousins, Golden State outscored the Knicks 46-19 for a 15-minute stretch that encompassed the last three minutes of the second quarter and all of the third.
The Warriors look like they're about to roll off a third straight NBA title and fourth in five years and are the clear favorites to win it all, per OddsShark, but there's one team that has a reasonable chance to knock them down.
The 31-12 Toronto Raptors sport the league's best record and sit in first place in the Eastern Conference. They beat Golden State 113-93 on the road without superstar forward Kawhi Leonard, and they slipped by the Warriors at home.
Granted, Curry and Green did not play in the game at Toronto, but the Raptors' deep rotation can cause the Warriors some problems if the two teams meet in the Finals.
Toronto has two players off the bench (Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright) who can handle the ball. If the Raptors need scoring, they can turn to CJ Miles for instant offense from downtown. If the Raptors need more size, they can go to Jonas Valanciunas or Greg Monroe. And small forward Norman Powell has come on of late with 14 or more points in three of his last five games.
The starting lineup features excellent wing defenders in Danny Green, who is No. 1 in defensive real plus-minus, and Leonard, who is a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Kyle Lowry is No. 4 in defensive real plus-minus among point guards.
Pascal Siakam is making his case as the Most Improved Player in the league with 15.0 points on 58.0 percent shooting, and Serge Ibaka's offensive stats have spiked to the tune of 16.2 points on 53.9 percent shooting.
Furthermore, like the Warriors, the Raptors are excelling despite their star players missing time. Leonard has been out for 10 games, while Lowry has missed 11.
The Warriors can roll through the postseason with losing just a game or two. But the Raptors have given them some problems this season and can continue to do so in a hypothetical NBA Finals series.
Both teams play Friday. The Knicks host the Indiana Pacers at 7:30 p.m. ET, and the Warriors are home versus the Chicago Bulls at 10:30 p.m.