LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The NBA champion Golden State Warriors routed the Charlotte Hornets, 137-90, Sunday, bouncing back from a frustrating defeat to regain first place in the Western Conference.
Stephen Curry scored 25 points, Klay Thompson added 24 and the two combined to make 11 three-pointers as the Warriors overcame the second quarter ejection of DeMarcus Cousins for a flagrant foul.
The victory pushed the Warriors one game ahead of Denver atop the West after the Nuggets were upset 95-90 at home by the Washington Wizards.
The Warriors improved to 18-6 this season in games following defeats. They fell 131-130 in overtime at Minnesota on Friday in a clash that left the Warriors fuming over the officiating.
Golden State took it out on the Hornets, seizing a 10-point lead in the first quarter.
They were up 49-38 when Cousins appeared to accidentally hit Willy Hernangomez in the head and was tossed. The Warriors didn’t miss a beat, racing on to a 71-49 halftime lead.
They entered the fourth quarter leading 105-72 and Warriors coach Steve Kerr rested Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant for all of the final period.
“It was a great night,” said Kerr. “I was really pleased also with the way the bench unit closed the game in the fourth quarter. It was a really good, complete game for us.”
The Nuggets weren’t the only playoff-bound team to fall to lesser opponents on Sunday, as the Milwaukee Bucks, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder all lost.
Rookie Trae Young drained a buzzer-beating basket to give the Atlanta Hawks a 136-135 overtime victory over depleted Milwaukee.
The Bucks, with Most Valuable Player candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo resting his sprained ankle, also had Khris Middleton sidelined by a sore left groin while Eric Bledsoe never came off the bench.
Justin Anderson led the Hawks with 24 points and 12 rebounds. John Collins added 13 points and 12 rebounds and Alex Len chipped in another 23.
But it was Young who emerged the hero, corralling a deflected inbounds pass with his left hand and firing the game-winner that was upheld upon video review.
Sterling Brown, who missed a potential game-winner in regulation, put Milwaukee up on a layup with 1.1 seconds left in overtime but his team-leading 27 points weren’t enough.
Nevertheless, the Bucks remained a comfortable three games ahead of the Toronto Raptors atop the NBA Eastern Conference.