76ers, Cavs down Spurs
LOS ANGELES: Golden State’s Harrison Barnes drained a three-pointer with two-tenths of a second left on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to lift the Warriors to a 108-105 victory over the 76ers in a duel of the NBA’s best and worst in Philadelphia.
Up by 24 midway through the third period and by 15 with 5:42 remaining, the reigning champion Warriors appeared headed for a predictable win over the lowly 76ers.
But they had to fight to the wire to improve to 43-4, matching the 1966-67 76ers for best 47-game start in NBA history while the current Sixers fell to 7-41.
While Philadelphia’s feisty fight-back fell short, it lent drama to a night on which the marquee match-up between Cleveland and the San Antonio Spurs belonged entirely to the Cavaliers.
LeBron James scored 29 points and the Cavs dominated San Antonio 117-103 to consolidate their spot atop the Eastern Conference with 34 victories in 46 games.
They have now won four straight since dropping their first game under new head coach Tyronn Lue, who took over a week ago after the surprise dismissal of David Blatt.
Going into the game, Cleveland was 0-3 against the top two teams in the West, having fallen at San Antonio earlier this month and lost twice to Golden State.
But they took full advantage of the absence of Spurs star Tim Duncan and the fact that San Antonio forward LaMarcus Aldridge was in foul trouble much of the night.
With their new-look offense firing, the Cavaliers shot 64 percent in the second quarter and led 66-49 at halftime.
San Antonio opened the third with an 8-0 scoring run, but their rally was quickly squelched by the Cavs, who had 21 points apiece from Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.
Irving and backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova combined for the first 18 points of the fourth quarter as Cleveland powered to the win.
“We’re just pushing the pace, pushing it every single night,” said James, whose Cavs have scored at least 114 points in four straight games.
“Coach Lue is getting on us every single day to keep the tempo going and we’ve been able to do that and not turn the ball over. So that’s resulting in us playing some really good basketball so far.”
Uptempo offense has been the Warriors’ calling card. But their inability to take care of the ball on Saturday almost cost them against the 76ers.
“We probably should have lost,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after his team coughed up 23 turnovers.
“If the gods delivered what should have happened, we probably should have lost, because that’s what happens when you mess around with the game and the ball.”
As it was, Kerr added, “Harrison bailed us out.”
A 20-5 late 76ers scoring run included seven points from guard Ish Smith.
Smith’s steal and breakaway dunk with 22.3 seconds left knotted the score at 105-105.
On the final Warriors’ possession, guard Stephen Curry fired a pass from the right wing to forward Draymond Green at the top of the circle.
He found Barnes in the right corner for the winning three-pointer.
“He always shoots a tremendous percentage from the corner,” Green said of Barnes. “It’s like a layup for him.”
Guard Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 32 points. Curry finished with 23 points, while Green contributed 10 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists — and shouldered the blame for the near-upset saying he got carried away “chasing a triple-double”.
Pelicans swoop late
Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday drained a three-pointer from the left wing with 9.3 seconds remaining, then made a game-winning 15-foot jump shot with 1.3 seconds left to lift New Orleans to a 105-103 home win over the Brooklyn Nets.
The Pelicans notched their seventh win in nine games.
In Indianapolis it went to overtime, with Pacers guard Monta Ellis scoring a season-high 32 points in a 109-105 overtime triumph over the Denver Nuggets.
The Pacers led 106-105 when Ellis drove for a layup with 20.4 seconds left, drawing a foul and making the free throw to complete the three-point play that sealed the win.