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Warriors win despite Curry’s absence

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 Shaun Livingston of the Golden State Warriors floats a shot over Terrence Jones of the Houston Rockets in the fourth quarter at Toyota Center on December 31, 2015 in Houston, Texas (AFP Photo/Bob Levey)


Shaun Livingston of the Golden State Warriors floats a shot over Terrence Jones of the Houston Rockets in the fourth quarter at Toyota Center on December 31, 2015 in Houston, Texas (AFP Photo/Bob Levey)

LOS ANGELES, January 1 – Klay Thompson scored 38 points and the Golden State Warriors showed they can win without star Stephen Curry Thursday with a 114-110 victory over the Rockets in Houston.

Curry missed his second straight game with a lower left leg bruise.

But unlike on Wednesday, when the Dallas Mavericks handed the reigning NBA champion Warriors just their second defeat of the season, Thompson was able to get going offensively despite the absence of his fellow “Splash Brother.”

Warriors forward Draymond Green also shone, posting his fifth triple-double of the season with 10 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 16 assists, while forward Andre Iguodala connected on six of seven attempts from the floor to contribute 20 points off the bench.

Golden State finished with 35 assists on 43 field goals.

James Harden led the rockets with 30 points, five rebounds and five assists, and Dwight Howard added 21 points and 13 rebounds.

Up by two points at halftime, the Warriors gave themselves some room with a 10-0 spurt late in the third quarter that included three-pointers from Thompson and Iguodala.

The Rockets trimmed the deficit to three points on a Harden jump shot with less than five to play, but the Warriors scored eight straight points to rebuild the lead.

Having rounded out 2015 with their 30th win of the season, the Warriors could open 2016 by welcoming head coach Steve Kerr back to the bench after complications from back surgery saw him sidelined.

Kerr could be back at the helm this weekend, taking the reins from interim coach Luke Walton who has presided over the Warriors’ sensational start to the season.

A lighthearted Walton said he hadn’t thought about whether Thursday’s game was his last in charge.

“If it is, it was a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ll be thrilled to have Stevie back coaching us again.”

– Pistons snap skid –

Andre Drummond poured in 23 points and pulled down 18 rebounds to help the Detroit Pistons snap a three-game losing streak with a 115-90 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Point guard Reggie Jackson added 19 points and nine assists for Detroit, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 19 of his 22 in the second half as the Pistons welcomed Brandon Jennings back to their Palace Auburn Hills floor in style.

Jennings was playing his second game, and his first at home since rupturing his left Achilles tendon in January.

He contributed seven points, six rebounds and three assists.

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said Jennings was still adapting to his role backing up Jackson.

“Beyond the injury, the thing you have to realize with Brandon is he’s never been a guy coming off the bench,” Van Gundy said. “That’s a different role for him and it’s not easy.”

The Pistons got off to a sloppy start, but Jennings was part of the effort from the Detroit bench that turned things around, the reserves’ energy boosting the team’s starters.

“That unit brought a lot of energy,” Van Gundy said.

Detroit took control with a 14-0 scoring burst in the fourth quarter that included nine straight points from Caldwell-Pope and opened a 25-point lead.

– Thunder hang on –

Russell Westbrook scored 36 points and handed out 12 assists and the Oklahoma City Thunder escaped with a 110-106 victory over the tenacious Phoenix Suns.

Westbrook connected on 12 of 19 shots from the field, nabbed five steals and had only two turnovers.

He put the Thunder up by two points with 1:57 to play. Suns center Tyson Chandler tied it up with a layup before Kevin Durant’s jump shot gave Oklahoma City the lead again.

Durant, who finished with 23 points, drove for a dunk to stretch the lead to four points with 31 seconds left and the Thunder held on from there.

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