The reigning champion Golden State Warriors amassed an NBA record 51 first-quarter points yesterday on the way to a 142-111 win over Denver in a duel for the Western Conference lead.
The Warriors moved half a game ahead of the Nuggets atop the West, seizing control with a blistering opening period that included 10 three-pointers -- a franchise record for a first quarter.
They broke the previous league record for first-quarter points of 50, most recently achieved by the Phoenix Suns against Denver on November 10, 1990.
"That was a fireworks show," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, calling the first quarter display "beautiful, beautiful basketball."
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson finished the night with 31 points apiece, Kevin Durant added 27. Draymond Green scored just four points but delivered 13 of the Warriors' 38 assists.
Michael Beasley scored 22 points to lead five Nuggets players in double figures, but Denver simply couldn't keep pace and the Warriors, who have struggled with injuries and inconsistency in the first half of the season, improved to 30-14 -- half a game ahead of the 29-14 Nuggets.
"I figured our guys would be excited to play," said Kerr, noting that the Warriors were beaten on their last trip to Denver. "They came in focused and aggressive."
Meanwhile, Philadelphia forward Jimmy Butler's first game against his former team was no contest as the 76ers destroyed the Minnesota Timberwolves, 149-107.
Sixers center Joel Embiid scored 31 points and pulled down 13 rebounds and guard Ben Simmons fell just shy of a triple-double with 20 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in an NBA clash that Philadelphia controlled from start to finish.
The Sixers scored 83 points in the first half -- their highest first-half total since dropping 83 on San Antonio on March 24, 1989. Their 21 three-pointers were a team record.
Butler, traded from Minnesota in November after agitating for a move since the start of the season, added 19 points as seven Sixers players -- including all five starters, scored in double figures.
In Indianapolis, the Indiana Pacers led wire-to-wire in a 131-97 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Myles Turner, back in action after missing four games with a sore right shoulder, scored 18 points and pulled down six rebounds for the Pacers, who had 20 points apiece from starting forward Bojan Bogdanovic and reserve Tyreke Evans.
Milwaukee's Most Valuable Player candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his fourth triple-double of the season as the Bucks dispatched the Miami heat, 124-86.
In Atlanta, the Hawks pulled away with a 24-8 fourth-quarter scoring run to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 142-126.*AFP
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