MIAMI -- Frustration emerged with defensive breakdowns. Tension also arose with Warriors reserve guard Shaun Livingston getting ejected after having a head-to-head argument with an official over a non-call.
Then, the Warriors addressed some of their early issues with something that has cured some of their ills 1 1/2 months into the 2017-18 season. The Warriors used the third quarter to dominate in nearly every fashion.
The Warriors' 123-95 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday traces back to this reality.
The Warriors (18-6) opened the second half with Kevin Durant throwing down a baseline dunk. They continued a 12-2 run with Stephen Curry scoring 10 of his team-leading 30 points before Miami called timeout as it trailed, 78-63, with 7:19 remaining. They ended the third quarter with a 99-77 lead over the Heat after outscoring them, 37-17.
For better and for worse, the Warriors have partly defined their 2017-18 season this way. They entered Sunday's game averaging a league-leading 31.9 points per game in the third quarter, while outscoring their opponents by 6.1 points. Such numbers either have helped the Warriors exert their dominance or mask their first-half complacency and inconsistency.
This development contradicts, though, how things played out in the Warriors' victory over Miami in Oakland earlier this month. Then, the Warriors compensated for a poor offensive showing (97 points) with strong defense (holding Miami to 36.1 percent shooting). In Miami, the Warriors produced with the usual suspects in Curry (30 points on 11-of-16 shooting, 5-of-9 from -point range), Kevin Durant (24 points) and Klay Thompson (19 points). Warriors guard Omri Casspi added 10 points off the bench.
The Warriors led in field-goal attempts (87-83), going 22-of-24 from the foul line and holding Miami to a 36.1 percent clip in what he called "our best defensive effort of the year." That included holding Heat center Hassan Whiteside to three points on 1-of-9 shooting before sitting for most of the second half.
(c)2017 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)
Visit The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.