Kevin Durant scored 29 points as the Golden State Warriors set aside their off-court discord to post a 110-103 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.
The NBA champions went into the game at the Oracle Arena against a backdrop of controversy, with power forward Draymond Green suspended following his bust-up with Durant 24 hours earlier.
Durant and Green had a heated off-court exchange during Monday’s 121-116 overtime defeat to the Clippers in Los Angeles.
That spat prompted Warriors management to take the unusual step of imposing a one-game suspension on Green for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
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The Warriors looked to be suffering a hangover from the row in the early stages against Atlanta, trailing 52-49 at halftime against the Hawks, who are 3-10.
The Warriors raised their game in the second half however, taking charge after outscoring the Hawks by 33-24 in the third quarter before closing out the win. Durant was given offensive support from Klay Thompson, who had 24 points while Quinn Cook had 18 and Jonas Jerebko 14.
The Warriors remain on top of the Western Conference standings with 11 wins and only three defeats.
Six Atlanta players reached double figures, with Taurean Prince leading with 22 points and Kent Bazemore 18.
– Rockets finding ‘swagger’ –
In Denver, James Harden had 22 points and 11 assists as the misfiring Houston Rockets knocked off the Nuggets in a 109-99 victory.
Houston, who have been slow to start this season with only six wins against seven defeats, relied on a strong all-round offensive display to polish off Denver, third in the Western Conference on 9-5.
Six Houston players cracked double figures with Clint Capela leading the scoring with 24 points and nine rebounds.
Chris Paul had 21 points while James Ennis III finished with 16.
Denver’s scoring was led by Monte Morris, who had 19 off the bench while Nikola Jokic had 14.
Harden said the Rockets were slowly rediscovering their “swagger” after a sluggish start to the campaign.
“It’s going to take time but we’re getting there,” Harden told reporters. “If we keep defending at a high level like we’ve been doing, then the offense is going to come around.
“The games that we lost, we guarded really well, we just didn’t make shots. Once we put both of those things together we’re going to be pretty scary. Tonight was a complete game.”
In Cleveland, meanwhile, the struggling Cavaliers bagged only their second win of the season with a 113-89 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
Jordan Clarkson led the scoring for the Cavs while Tristan Thompson had 11 points and 21 rebounds to give last year’s NBA Finals runners-up a much-needed morale boost.
Cavs coach Larry Drew, who replaced sacked predecessor Tyronn Lue last month after the team’s calamitous 0-6 start, expressed relief after claimin the win.
“We’ve been working hard for the past few weeks but we’ve been coming away empty-handed,” Drew said. “Tonight we were able to sustain from start to finish. All the hard work that the guys have been putting in, tonight’s win kind of pays that off.
“We’ve been playing well, we just haven’t been able to finish them out. It feels good getting that monkey off your back with the losing streak.”