– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
WASHINGTON — In what has to be considered a departure from the norm, most of the splashing done on the court by the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night came from inside of 15 feet, though the end result was much more of the same dominance that has highlighted a very successful start to the new year for the two-time defending NBA champions.
Stephen Curry scored 38 points, with most of his production coming from inside the three-point line, in leading the Warriors to a 126-118 victory over the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena to extend their winning streak to nine games. As the Wizards focused on taking away the three-point shot, Golden State took advantage and relentlessly drove to the basket, finishing with 70 points in the paint.
Though Curry hit just two of his eight threes he took, he dominated by going 12-of-16 on two-point attempts as Golden State, now 9-1 in the month of January, shot 63 percent (43-of-68) from inside of the arc tonight.
“Got to take what the defense gives you,” Curry said. “I think for the most part, we moved the ball early and got everybody established. And then the lane starts to open up and you’ve got to take advantage of it some nights.”
Tonight clearly was one of those nights to do so. Center DeMarcus Cousins, playing in just his third game since rupturing his Achilles tendon while a member of the Pelicans at this time last year, scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds in just 24 minutes. Though his range extends to beyond the three-point line, Cousins constantly outmuscled the Wizards’ small lineup inside while only attempting one three-pointer — which he made.
“It’s not something we’ve practiced a lot, so we kind of just threw it out there and tried to do it on the fly,” Cousins said in describing the Warriors’ success constantly going inside tonight. “We were successful in some moments and then we kind of got on top of each other and it got a little sloppy. I’m sure that’s something we’ll work on going forward.”
Kevin Durant scored 21 points while Draymond Green had 15 rebounds to go along with seven points and seven assists. Klay Thompson, who tied an NBA record by making 10 consecutive three-pointers in Golden State’s win on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, only connected on one of his four shots from beyond the arc on his way to nine points.
Golden State attempted just 20 three-pointers (making seven), just the fourth time this season the Warriors took fewer than 21 threes in a game.
Washington fought back in the fourth quarter after going into it down by 12 to make it a game, going on an 11-2 to start the period as a number of the Warriors’ starters were resting. The run was capped off by a runner in the lane by Tomas Satoransky, cutting Washington’s deficit to 106-103 with 9:14 remaining. A couple of minutes later, Chasson Randle hit a three to bring Washington within two at 108-106 with just over seven minutes remaining.
The Warriors, with Curry and Durant back on the floor, responded with a 9-0 run to establish control once more, and Washington was not able to cut the lead to within eight for the rest of the contest.
Trevor Ariza led all Wizards scorers with 27 points while Bradley Beal had 22 as Washington saw its modest two-game winning streak come to an end.
“I think we’re turning a corner,” Beal said. “We’re still not there yet. We still have to dig ourselves out of this hole that we’re in. There’s only a short amount of time to do it, but we have a great opportunity in front of us.”
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Thursday evening’s game, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are currently eight pictures in total.