DENVER (AP) – Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors weren’t trying to send any sort of message or make any kind of statement against a team they were chasing in the Western Conference.
“They know who we are,” Durant said.
Still, message received.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each scored 31 points as the Warriors, propelled by an National Basketball Association (NBA)-record, 51-point first quarter, regained the top spot in the West by routing the Denver Nuggets 142-111 on Tuesday night.
“Beautiful, beautiful basketball,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Just liked the way our guys moved the ball, the shot fakes, playing with purpose, playing with a simple style of execution but aggressive at the same time. Finding that balance is always what we’re looking for. That was as good as it gets for us.
“I don’t remember a better first quarter. That was a fireworks show.”
Golden State cruised to a fifth straight win to move a half-game in front of the Nuggets, who had their 12-game home winning streak snapped.
The showdown between the top two teams in the conference proved a little too big for the Nuggets, with Curry and his teammates putting on a shooting exhibition all night long. Durant hit the first shot of the night, a 12-footer, as the Warriors broke the old first-quarter mark of 50 held by several teams. The last time it happened was also against Denver when Phoenix scored 50 on November 10, 1990.
“They came in with an edge and we didn’t have that edge to start the game,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I don’t think anybody on our team is scared of the Golden State Warriors or too respectful. They took it to another level and left us in the dust.”
Golden State shot a blistering 60 per cent from the field, had 38 assists and hit 21 three-pointers – 10 in the first quarter – in leading wire-to-wire. Durant finished with 27 points and Draymond Green was a plus-41 as he had 13 assists to go with four points.
“When we make shots, we’re a tough team to beat,” Curry said.
Malik Beasley finished with 22 points for the Nuggets. Big man Nikola Jokic struggled with early foul trouble, finishing with 17 points and eight assists in 23 minutes.
“We’re not a bad team,” Jokic said. “The game just happened.”