LOS ANGELES: Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry outshined Russell Westbrook as the Golden State Warriors romped to victory against Oklahoma City on Monday (Tuesday in Manila), while James Harden produced another heroic display to hand Houston a dramatic win over Denver.
Triple-double machine Westbrook was effectively stifled by the Warriors’ potent offense and defense, restricted to only 15 points in front of an expectant home crowd at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Instead it was reigning NBA MVP Curry and teammate Thompson who got on top, raining down three-pointers as the Warriors recorded a 111-95 victory.
Thompson poured on 34 points —including seven three-pointers —while Curry weighed in with 23 points, also contributing seven three-pointers.
“I’ve been playing well the last few games. Got a lot of great looks today. It’s as simple as knocking them down,” Thompson said afterwards.
Westbrook meanwhile brushed off the defeat as a bad day at the office.
“Just one of those nights,” he said. “Shots didn’t fall. They made shots as well. A few mishaps defensively. But we’ll be all right.”
The Thunder star had been at the center of an ugly shoving match with Curry in the second quarter when tempers flared.
The flashpoint triggered a melee that ended with Westbrook, Curry and two other players receiving technical fouls.
“Ain’t nothing going through my mind but to protect my teammates,” Westbrook said when asked about the scrap. “That’s what was going through my mind.”
The Warriors improved to 56-14 with the win as the Thunder fell to 40-30.
The Houston Rockets cemented their grip on third place in the Western Conference standings with a thrilling victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Harden settled the duel 125-124 with a last-gasp coast-to-coast layup after pouncing on a loose shoot from Nuggets guard Jameer Nelson.
It was the final act of another virtuoso display from Harden, who finished with 39 points as the Rockets improved to 49-22.
“I was running so fast, I felt like Usain Bolt,” Harden said of his electrifying late break effort that clinched victory with 4.2 seconds on the clock.
Harden’s heroics left Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni singing the Houston star’s praises.
“He gives you an example every night,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said of Harden, one of the leading candidates for season MVP.
“If something’s better out there, I’ve never seen it and I’ve been around. I’m old and I’ve been around and never seen anything better.”
Harden also had 11 assists while reserve Eric Gordon weighed in with a useful 18 points, which included back-to-back three-pointers at the start of the fourth quarter to give Houston the lead.
In the Eastern Conference, Boston scored a bruising 110-102 win over Washington to remain comfortably in second place overall behind Cleveland.
Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points for the Celtics as Boston improved to 45-26 to stay in front of third placed Washington (42-28) in the standings.
Thomas admitted there was little love lost between the teams following a fractious encounter.
“Those guys don’t like us, we don’t like them, that’s what it is,” Thomas said.
The two teams’ three previous meetings this season had been dogged by physical altercations and trash-talking.
Monday’s encounter was no different, with players regularly exchanging barbs throughout.
“We knew it was going to be one of those games. We knew it,” said Thomas.
“With that team, it’s always going to be a physical game, always going to be trashing talking and things like that.”