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Warriors, Cavs return from All-Star break with wins

NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry scored 35 points as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 123-113, at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on February 23, 2017 © Getty/AFP/File / Matthew Stockman

LOS ANGELES, United States, Feb 24The Golden State Warriors exploded for 50 points in the third quarter Thursday to roar past the Los Angeles Clippers 123-113 in their first game after the NBA All-Star break.

NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry had 20 of his 35 points and Kevin Durant added 15 of his 25 in the third period — when the Warriors erased a 12-point halftime deficit and put themselves on the road to their 10th straight victory over their Western Conference rivals.

The Warriors had scored just 18 points in the second quarter — 49 in the first half — as the Clippers seized the initiative despite the absence of injured point guard Chris Paul.

Paul’s stand-in, Austin Rivers, scored 11 of his 19 points in the first half. Jamal Crawford added 19 for Los Angeles and All-Star DeAndre Jordan added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers.

But the Warriors overwhelmed them in the third, making 17 of their 23 shots, including nine of 15 from three-point range.

LeBron James recorded his sixth triple-double of the season as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the New York Knicks 119-104, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 23, 2017 © Getty/AFP/File / Christian Petersen

“It was a great quarter,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who was untroubled by the three technical fouls handed to the Warriors in the period.

“It was an emotional quarter,” he said. “We didn’t have much fire at all in the first half and we weren’t competitive.”

Curry notched his 15th 30-point game of the season. He also contributed seven rebounds and five assists.

Durant, who left the court to have X-rays on his left pinkie finger in the second quarter that proved negative, pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds and handed out seven assists as the Warriors improved their league-leading record to 48-9.

The reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers also returned from the All-Star break with a victory.

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LeBron James recorded his sixth triple-double of the season as the Cavaliers maintained their mastery over the New York Knicks with a 119-104 triumph.

James scored 18 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and handed out 15 assists for the 48th regular-season triple-double of his career.

Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 23 points, while Kyle Korver added 20 off the bench.

But coach Tyronn Lue was disappointed with a lackadaisical third-quarter effort that let the Knicks narrow the deficit, forcing him to play James late rather than rest him.

“We got up and then it got too easy for us and we started messing around,” Lue said. “These are the games, third quarter you put a team away, we get our rest.

“Little disappointed about that, but it was a good win for us after the break.”

The reigning champion Cavaliers won their fourth straight and are 8-1 in February. It was their 10th straight win over the Knicks.

Making the defeat more painful, Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis hurt his ankle and didn’t return for the second half. He finished with eight points in 16 minutes before the injury, which was diagnosed as a sprain.

– Pistons top Hornets in overtime –

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In Detroit, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 27 of his 33 points in the second half as the Pistons rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to bet the Charlotte Hornets 114-108 in overtime.

Tobias Harris added 25 points and pulled down seven rebounds for the Pistons, who handed the Hornets their fifth straight defeat.

Caldwell-Pope scored 11 points in the final 2:17 of regulation and seven more in overtime. His three-pointer with 18.2 seconds left in regulation tied the game after the Pistons trailed by 15 going into the fourth quarter.

“Big shots by KCP helped us all night and when he’s hot like that the only thing on our mind is to give him the basketball and let him make a play for us,” Harris said. “That’s what he was able to do.”

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