Miami - Jordan Poole scored 30 points as the short-handed Golden State Warriors halted their losing streak in emphatic fashion with a 118-104 defeat of the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat on Wednesday.
The Warriors, missing injured star point guard Stephen Curry, had stumbled to three straight losses heading into Wednesday’s road game in Florida, with a 94-90 reversal to Orlando on Tuesday the latest setback.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr responded by opting to rest Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, and the gamble paid off as an unfamiliar-looking lineup delivered in style at Miami's FTX Arena.
Poole had nine assists alongside his 30-point performance, while Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga and Damion Lee each finished with 22 points.
After pulling ahead by 19 points in the third quarter, the Warriors looked to be wobbling after Miami clawed their way back into the contest to lead early in the fourth period.
But Poole, Wiggins and Kuminga combined for 23 points in a 37-point fourth quarter to see the Warriors home.
Golden State improved to 48-25 for third place in the Western Conference while Miami fell to 47-25 at the top of the East, just 1.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks.
"Just our overall competitive fire and execution was better," Kerr said.
"I thought our guys earned it. When you defend that well, the game gets a lot easier offensively."
Kerr acknowledged the win was in sharp contrast to his team's struggles against lowly Orlando 24 hours earlier.
- Roller coaster -
"Sometimes the NBA doesn't make any sense," he said. "One thing I've learned is that these are the greatest players on earth.
"There's 30 teams -- the bad teams have great players and the good teams have great players. Everybody's human.
"You go through ups and downs and it's a full 82-game season. That's why it's important to just keep pushing ahead and not succumb to the noise and the roller-coaster nature of it all."
The top of the East is becoming increasingly congested, with the red-hot Boston Celtics also closing in on the lead.
The Celtics maintained their recent hot streak with a ruthless 125-97 pounding of the Utah Jazz in Boston.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both finished with 26 points as the Celtics extended their winning streak to five straight games.
The bruising defeat was a reality-check for Utah, who were dominated throughout after Boston roared to a 15-point lead at the end of the first quarter and piled on the pressure. Donovan Mitchell led Utah with 37 points.
The Celtics are also within striking distance of first place in the Eastern Conference, improving to 46-28.
We were locked in from the jump tonight and finished with a season-high 37 assists during our 125-97 victory over the Jazz. pic.twitter.com/s8nIUX20LP— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 24, 2022
A thrilling duel in Memphis saw a Grizzlies lineup missing star Ja Morant clinch a 132-120 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
Kyrie Irving delivered another dazzling performance for Brooklyn with 43 points while Kevin Durant added 35 points, but the Nets were confounded by a resilient Memphis team.
Desmond Bane and De’Anthony Melton led the Grizzlies scoring with 23 points each while Dillon Brooks had 21. Four other Memphis players finished in double figures.
Memphis had swept into a 76-62 halftime lead but were blitzed by a 42-point Brooklyn third quarter, with Durant and Irving contributing 25 points between them to give the Nets a slender lead.
But Memphis roared back to outscore the Nets 29-16 in the fourth to clinch victory.
"This is the most together team that I've ever been a part of," Bane said.
"We weathered the storm, stayed with it and got the win."
In Los Angeles, Joel Embiid scored 30 points as the Philadelphia 76ers opened a three-game road trip with a 126-121 win over the Lakers.
The Lakers were without LeBron James due to a sore knee.
Embiid was backed with 24 points from James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, who finished with 21 points. Tobias Harris added 20 points.