Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors. On Sunday night, the Warriors clinched the Pacific division in style. They defeated the Charlotte Hornets, 137-90 to earn their fifth straight division crown. The impressive victory wasn’t highlighted by a major run. Instead, the Warriors, furious at their latest loss, absolutely took it out on the Hornets in every shape, form or fashion.
The Warriors outscored the Hornets by at least eight points in each quarter. In fact, after securing a 35-27 lead after 12 minutes of play, the Warriors won the last three quarters by double digits. They weren’t going to let 19-point second half lead dissipate two games in a row. Furthermore, the Warriors didn’t need a heroic effort from 1 of their 3 dynamic scorers.
Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 25 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Klay Thompson chipped in with 24 points. Meanwhile, the forwards dominated in a different way. Kevin Durant scored 11 points and dished out 9 assists. Draymond Green was also one shy of a double-double with 10 points and 9 assists. Green also snagged five rebounds in 29 minutes of action. In fact, none of the Warriors played 30 minutes in the win. DeMarcus Cousins was ejected early in the game with a flagrant 2 foul. An elbow to the face of Willy Hernangomez sent Cousins to the locker room.
The bench was a huge help in extending the lead during the second quarter and beyond. Quinn Cook poured in 21 points off the bench in 23 minutes. We know Cook won’t get that type of playing time in the postseason, but if he can provide valuable minutes, the Warriors might become the team everybody wants them to be. In all, the bench provided 59 points on the day. Jonas Jerebko also reached double figures with 12 points.
The Warriors moved to (52-24) and they also took a one game lead over the Denver Nuggets after Sunday’s game. The Nuggets suffered a bad home loss to the Washington Wizards. Now, they are in a rough spot for earning the No. 1 seed with six games remaining. The Warriors hold the tie-breaker, so the Nuggets have to win the regular season with a better record.
Meanwhile, the Warriors have shown flashes of brilliance throughout the season. They’ve also played some horrific games. Therefore, winning a third straight NBA title is not a foregone conclusion. They were taken to the seventh game in the Western Conference Finals last year. Currently, the Rockets hold the No. 3 seed, so there is a real possibility of a rematch this year. Yet, the Warriors have a long way to go before that point.
The Warriors face the Nuggets on Tuesday. They have a chance to solidify the No. 1 seed with a win. However, a loss means the race for the No. 1 seed will likely come down to the final night of the regular season.