OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry and the rest of the Golden State Warriors starters struggled to pull away from Miami.
Then with Curry and Co. starting the fourth quarter on the bench, Golden State’s reserves did the trick.
Marreese Speights shook off 36 minutes of rust to score the first six points of the fourth quarter to help the Warriors take control and go on to their 36th straight regular-season home win, 111-103 over the Heat on Monday night.
"That’s a huge bonus for us," Curry said. "The starters, we played well, but didn’t sustain. They came in and took control of the game and got us to the finish line."
Curry scored 31 despite an off-shooting night, Draymond Green added 22 points and 12 rebounds and Klay Thompson scored 17 for the Warriors. But all five starters finished the game with a negative plus-minus rate, while every reserve was in plus territory.
The strong bench play helped the Warriors (36-2) get halfway to Chicago’s record win total of 72 set in 1996-97 three games before the midpoint of the season.
"It’s one of those where you look up and it’s like ‘Wow, 36-2, that’s crazy,"’ guard Shaun Livingston said. "It’s a high school record. But we’re just trying to stay in the moment."
Dwyane Wade scored 20 points and Chris Bosh and Gerald Green added 15 apiece for the Heat, who had won eight of their past 11 games here.
But these Warriors teams are far different and that showed against a resilient Heat team that battled all night but was unable to handle the depth of the Warriors.
"Every time you have a chance, if you make a mistake they really know how to capitalize," Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said. "Our guys really played hard, did enough to give ourselves a chance. We couldn’t get over that hump to make it a possession game at the end."
Curry missed seven of his first nine 3-point but got plenty of help as the Warriors tied the Philadelphia 76ers (1966-67) for the fourth longest regular-season home win streak in NBA history. Chicago holds the record of 44 set in 1996-97.
Back-to-back baskets by Green helped Golden State build a 10-point lead late in the third quarter before Miami responded with the final seven points to make it 80-77 heading into the fourth.
Speights then checked in for the first time and made three quick shots.
"There’s not many players that can sit there for three quarters and then you draw up a play for them to shoot the ball when they first come in," interim coach Luke Walton said. "Mo’s one of those guys because in his mind he’s always hot."
The Warriors extended the lead to 88-79 on a basket by Harrison Barnes, despite the entire starting lineup resting to start the quarter.
Three free throws by Thompson after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Gerald Green and a 3-pointer from Curry made it 101-88 midway through the fourth and Golden State went on to another win that was sealed with a 3-pointer by Curry that made it 110-101 with 26.9 seconds to go.
Heat: F Luol Deng was called for a technical foul in the first quarter. … C Hassan Whiteside did not play because of a right knee injury and rookie Justise Winslow made his first career start in his place.
Warriors: Curry finished with a minus rating for the first time all season. … G Leandro Barbosa was cleared to return after missing eight games with a left shoulder injury but did not play.
With Whiteside out, the Warriors made a defensive switch at halftime. They moved centre Bogut off of Bosh, who is a proficient outside shooter, to guard the smaller Deng and Winslow in a repeat of a successful switch in last year’s playoffs against Memphis.
"Obviously Bosh is on the perimeter a whole lot more now," Bogut said. "It’s something we’ve done before with Tony Allen and a couple of other guys. We went to it and it worked."
After the game, Wade pulled Warriors forward Andre Iguodala aside to give him some advice from a player with the pedigree of three championships.
"I told him, ‘Man listen, enjoy it. Don’t take it for granted,"’ Wade said. "We’ve been there before. When it’s gone, it’s different. You have to enjoy this."
Heat: Visit Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.
Warriors: Visit Denver on Wednesday.