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Warriors secure win over Heat with dominant third quarter

Mark Medina, The Mercury News on

Published in Basketball

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.)

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