LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors went some way to ensuring that top seed will belong to them with a 116-102 victory over the second-ranked Denver Nuggets.
“We handled our business,” said Golden State star Stephen Curry, who finished with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists. “We did what we were supposed to do – protect our home court.”
“Obviously we understand we’re chasing that number one seed. I guess we control our own destiny now,” he added after the Warriors stretched their lead over Denver atop the West to two games with five regular-season games remaining.
The Warriors also own the tiebreaker, thanks to winning three of four against the Nuggets in the regular season.
DeMarcus Cousins paced the Warriors with a season-best 28 points.
Kevin Durant added 21 points – including two massive first-half dunks – before he was ejected in the third quarter after receiving two quick technical fouls.
Durant was incensed at the lack of a foul call on a missed three-point attempt. His 14th and 15th technical fouls of the season mean he is one away from an automatic one-game suspension.
“I thought he deserved the first technical, I didn’t think he deserved the second,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I was very surprised… but, you know, we move on.”
Elsewhere in the West, James Harden scored 36 points to lead the playoff-bound Houston Rockets to a 130-105 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Houston never trailed and led by as many as 30 points, matching their franchise record with 26 three-pointers.