OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) With a Super Bowl-sized stage, a celebrity-filled crowd and two championship contenders on the floor, it felt more like late May in Oracle Arena than early February.
Stephen Curry was up to the task.
Curry scored 26 points and keyed a strong closing stretch that sent the Golden State Warriors to their 41st straight regular-season homeWIN, 116-108 over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.
”This was very playoff-like for sure,” Curry said. ”The atmosphere, just the intensity, the adrenaline down the stretch. That’s what you expect for sure. It was good toGET that feeling and execute.”
Curry scored three baskets and assisted on twoMORE in a closing 12-4 run that gave the Warriors (46-4) their ninth straight win toMATCH the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers for the bestRECORD ever after 50 games. Golden State moved within three wins of tying the Chicago Bulls (1995-96) for the longest homeWINNING streak in NBA history.
Harrison Barnes added 19 points and Klay Thompson scored 18 for Golden State.
Kevin Durant had 40 points and 14 rebounds and Russell Westbrook added 27 points and 12ASSISTS for the Thunder, who had won five straight and 12 of 13 but still trail Golden State and San Antonio in the Western Conference.
”Man we’re not scared of eitherONE of these teams,” Durant said. ”We’re goingTO PLAY ourGAME. Nobody in this locker room is scared. We have to play them. If we want to get to where we want to get to, we have to play them. We’re not ducking anybody.”
One day before he plans to watch good friend Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers take on Denver in the Super Bowl at nearby Levi’s Stadium, Curry helped the Warriors break out to a 20-point lead in the second quarter despite making just one 3-pointer on the night.
The defending-champion Warriors have beaten the three teamsDIRECTLY behind them in the standings during this current streak. After blowing out San Antonio and Cleveland by a combined 64 points, Golden State was tested against Oklahoma City.
The Thunder hung tough after facing the big deficit in the first quarter and cut the lead down to 99-95 on a 3-pointer by Durant midway through the fourth quarter. Enes Kanter then tied the game at 104 with a fall-away jumper.
”That’s what we’re supposed to do,” Durant said. ”When we get down we’re supposed to tie the game up. No moral victories in here.”
But Durant missed a long 3 a short while later that could have given Oklahoma City its first lead since the first quarter.
Curry responded with a driving layup and Klay Thompson followed another Durant miss from 3 with a long-range basket of his own off a feed from Curry that made it 110-104 with 1:40 to play. Curry’s jumper made it 114-108 with 33.6 seconds left, prompting chants of ”MVP! MVP!” from the sellout crowd.
Andre Iguodala’s dunk off another pass from Curry sealed it.
”I thought it was great for our team to go through a game like that,” coach Steve Kerr said. ”It’s been a while since we had to get stops and be solid down the stretch offensively. On a night when it wasn’t quite his night, I thought Steph was just brilliant the last couple of minutes.”
Thunder: The Thunder scored the first nine points. … Durant was called for a technical foul in the first quarter.
Warriors: The Warriors led 73-59 at the break and have scored at least 70 points in the first half nine times this season. No other team has done it more than once. … Curry has made a 3-pointer in 121 straight games, six shy of tying Kyle Korver’s record.
FREE AGENT TALK
Durant deflected any talk about his upcoming free agency after a Yahoo Sports report earlier in the week that the Warriors could be high on his list if he decides to leave Oklahoma City this summer. Durant said his focus is on improving each day. Kerr found any speculation silly.
”We have a hell of a team. Why would anybody talk about some different team and future stuff and other players,” Kerr said. ”Focus on our team, we’re pretty good.”
With the Super Bowl in town, plenty of celebrities were on hand for this one, including Beyonce, Jay-Z, Kate Hudson and Jim Harbaugh.
”It’s a fun weekend for sure to host the Super Bowl and a game like tonight,” Curry said. ”You obviously know big names will be here. We’ll enjoy tomorrow for sure.”
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