TORONTO – Stephen Curry poured in 44 points and the Golden State Warriors roared to win No. 21, beating the Toronto Raptors 112-109 Saturday.
Kyle Lowry scored a career-high 41 points in a spectacular effort to lead a Raptors team that was in the game until the dying seconds. Lucas Nogueira added 14 points, while DeMar DeRozan finished with 16 and Luis Scola added 10 for Toronto (12-9).
Klay Thompson chipped in with 26 for Golden State (21-0).
The Raptors had given the defending NBA champion Warriors a run for their money early last month, in a 115-110 loss, and they were a confident bunch Saturday.
They trailed just 83-79 with a quarter left to play, and scraped out a one-point lead with 4:53 to play on a spectacular sequence that saw a Lowry three-pointer, a DeRozan layup, and a Lowry layup.
Curry calmly drilled a pair of threes – the reigning NBA MVP had confidently turned and headed back upcourt before the ball fell through the net on each – to put Golden State up by two points with 2:33 left to play.
Lowry drove hard to the basket for a bucket and a foul with 44 seconds left but missed what would have been game-tying free throw. A Lowry layup made it a one-point game with 10.7 seconds left. Two free throws by Curry gave Golden State a three-point lead, then a turnover by Cory Joseph gave the Warriors the ball back with three seconds to play.
Curry, who honed his shot on the same Air Canada Centre floor as a kid while his dad Dell played for the Raptors, shot 9-for-15 from three-point range, and added seven assists.
Lowry shot 14-for-26 from the floor, and 6-for-10 from three-point range. He doled out seven assists.
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Golden State is chasing the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who own the NBA single-season record for wins with 72. They broke the record for the best start to a season back on Nov. 25 with win No. 16.
The Warriors’ last regular-season loss was April 7, a 103-100 road defeat at the hands of New Orleans. They went on to win their remaining four 2014-15 regular season games.
They then won 16 of 21 playoff games en route to the title. Their last playoff loss was June 9, when they were beaten 96-91 in Cleveland.
There was a definite buzz in the building, and the fans responded to Curry’s big buckets and seeming the ease with which he hit them, with “oohs” and “ahs.” Press row was jam-packed.
The Warriors don’t mind the commotion they create wherever they go.
“Yeah it’s crazy but our guys are fine with it,” said coach Luke Walton. “People talk about the pressure getting worse the longer the streak goes, but our guys love the pressure. They play better the bigger the stage is, the more fans that show up.”
The capacity crowd of 19,800 included a star-studded front row. Soccer star Didier Drogba, Olympic gold medallist Donovan Bailey, and NBA legends Bob Lanier and Isiah Thomas, among others sat courtside, there as part of “Giants of Africa,” Raptors GM Masai Ujiri’s second annual celebration of Nelson Mandela.
The Warriors missed their first two baskets but connected on their next eight to race out to an early 11-point lead. Golden State led 32-21 to end the first.
The Raptors roared back in the second, opening the frame with a 22-9 crun apped by a DeRozan dunk that gave them their first lead since early in the first. But the Warriors hit back, and took a 59-49 lead into halftime.
Lowry poured in nine of the Raptors’ first 11 points of the third, and a dunk by Nogueira with just under three minutes left in the frame cut the Warriors’ lead to three points.