Durant, Curry lead Warriors; Harden fires Rockets

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

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LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Kevin Durant scored 23 points as the Golden State Warriors kept the pressure on the Denver Nuggets with a 110-93 defeat of the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday.

Durant was one of five Warriors players to make double figures as the depth of the NBA champions proved too much for Memphis at Oakland's Oracle Arena.

Stephen Curry had 20 points and Klay Thompson 16 in a win which left the Warriors with a record of 21-10, just behind Western Conference leaders Denver who are 20-9.

Curry's points haul took him past 15,000 for his career, making him the fifth player in Warriors franchise history to reach the milestone.

“It's a really cool milestone, an unbelievable journey so far,” Curry said. “But it's just more motivation to keep doing what I'm doing. I'm blessed to play this game with great team-mates. We can all accomplish great things if we stay in the moment.”

Memphis's scoring was led from the bench by former Warrior Omri Casspi, who finished with 20 points and was a constant threat to his ex-teammates.

Elsewhere Monday, LaMarcus Aldridge bagged a double-double as the San Antonio Spurs handed the Philadelphia 76ers a chastening loss in a 123-96 blowout.

Aldridge spearheaded a fine, all-round offensive display from San Antonio as the Spurs improved to 16-15 at ATT Center in Texas.

Rudy Gay had 21 points while DeMar DeRozan also had 20 on a night when the Spurs dominated the Sixers in all departments.

The Sixers slipped to 20-12 following the loss.

Ben Simmons and JJ Redick had 16 points apiece for the Sixers, but Joel Embiid was restricted to 13 points while Jimmy Butler suffered an off-target night, making just three of 13 field goal attempts.

In Houston, James Harden exploded for 47 points as the Rockets overpowered the Utah Jazz 102-97 to extend their winning streak to four games.

Reigning NBA MVP Harden produced a dazzling display of scoring to delight the home fans at Toyota Center with a win that took the Rockets above .500 for the season.

Houston are now 15-14 for the season while Utah have slipped to 14-17, one place from the bottom in the Western Conference.

Harden's virtuoso display included six rebounds and five assists. Three other Houston players made double figures, with PJ Tucker finishing with 16 points and Eric Gordon adding 12 points.

Clint Capela hauled down 14 rebounds to dominate the boards.

But it was Harden's eye-catching display that dominated the post-game discussion, with coach Mike D'Antoni leading the plaudits.

Harden has averaged just over 38 points per game in his last five games.

“This level, the last three or four games are as good as he ever played,” D'Antoni said.

“It's just the determination that he has. He cares. Every big shot, every big play. This is an MVP level. He's been that way the past week and for the right reasons. He's been playing this way for a little bit.”

Donovan Mitchell led the Utah scoring with 23 points while Rudy Gobert finished with 18 points.

Elsewhere Monday, Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered a 32-point haul as the Milwaukee Bucks maintained their pursuit of Toronto at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 107-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

Antetokounmpo's points haul included one spectacular driving dunk in the second quarter that embarrassed the Pistons defence.

Antetokounmpo finished with a double-double, adding 12 rebounds to his points tally as well as five assists.

The win keeps the Bucks in second place in the East at 20-9, 1.5 games back from first-place Toronto.

In Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook bagged the 111th triple-double of his career as the Thunder piled on the misery for the Chicago Bulls with a 121-96 win.

Westbrook posted 13 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists as OKC remained third in the Western Conference on 19-10.

Paul George led the scoring for the Thunder with 24 points while New Zealand's Steven Adams added 19 points.

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