NEW YORK (AP) — The Golden State Warriors knew they would need energy and were missing the guy who often provides it, so they weren’t totally surprised by their poor first half.
“It’s kind of what we expected,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I don’t know I expected to be down 16 at the half, but I knew that they would come out and give us a hell of a fight.”
The Warriors ended up winning easily.
Kevin Durant had 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Golden State turned an ugly start into an easy finish in a 117-101 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.
Klay Thompson added 23 points for the Warriors, who opened a three-game road trip that leads into their NBA Finals rematch in Cleveland on Christmas. They didn’t look ready while falling behind by 16 at halftime, but were back to their sometimes unstoppable selves while outscoring the Nets by 32 points over the final 24 minutes.
“I felt like we were all positive coming into the locker room,” Durant said. “No pointing fingers. None of that stuff. We knew it was just a matter of time.”
Stephen Curry and Zaza Pachulia each finished with 15 points for the Warriors, who played without Draymond Green, who returned to the Bay Area early Thursday after the birth of his son, Draymond Jamal Green Jr.
Brook Lopez scored 28 points for Brooklyn, but just five in the second half as the Nets dropped their fourth straight. They complete a back-to-back against the last two NBA champions when they visit Cleveland on Friday.
“I thought we stuck with it, we did a good job trying to stick with it, but again I think a lot of it is just more on us and what we stopped doing than anything,” Lopez said.
Golden State earned its sixth consecutive win and improved the NBA’s best record to 26-4.
The Warriors had won their last two games by a combined 75 points but didn’t play much defense in the first quarter of this one, allowing 34 points, and then couldn’t find their offense in the second, managing just 16 while the Nets dominated behind Lopez. Brooklyn led 65-49 at the break.
Golden State returned with 12 straight to cut it to 65-61 on Curry’s jumper, outscored the Nets 39-19 and took an 88-84 edge to the fourth. It was soon 103-91 after consecutive baskets by Shaun Livingston, and the Warriors kept pouring it on until they got their starters to the bench for good with a few minutes left.
Warriors: Golden State improved to 8-0 against the Eastern Conference. ... Kerr said the Warriors don’t know if Green will return on the road trip, but thought the Michigan State product might want to be back for Friday’s game at Detroit.
Nets: Jeremy Lin finished with 10 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. It was just his 10th game all season because of injuries and his first at home since Nov. 2, when he originally strained his left hamstring.
FATHER KNOWS BEST?
Kerr said he was disappointed with himself for not trying harder to persuade Green not to travel with the Warriors to New York on Wednesday.
“We had a good discussion after the Utah game about whether he should come or not and he was convinced that the baby was not going to arrive for about a week,” Kerr said. “Typical father. The women are right, the men are wrong in these things. But he was convinced that it wasn’t going to happen for a week so we kind of relented and said all right come with us, and then of course we practice last night and then I woke up this morning, there was a text from him saying he had taken off back to Oakland.”
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson was asked his reaction when he saw the schedule had given his team the Golden State-Cleveland back-to-back.
“I asked Sean if I could take the week off,” Atkinson joked, referring to general manager Sean Marks.
Warriors: Visit Detroit on Friday. Golden State was routed 113-95 there last Jan. 16.
Nets: Visit Cleveland on Friday. Brooklyn has lost its last six there.