Warriors in smashing victory

Champions score record 51 points in 1st quarter against Nuggets, as they take over Western Conference lead

The reigning champions Golden State Warriors amassed an NBA record 51 first-quarter points yesterday morning (Singapore time) on the way to a 142-111 win over Denver Nuggets 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 Nov 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 with 31 points apiece, while Kevin Durant added 27. Draymond Green scored just four points, but delivered 13 of the Warriors' 38 assists.

"I liked the way our guys moved the ball," Kerr said.

"A lot of fake shots, playing with purpose, playing with a simple style of execution but aggressive at the same time.

"Finding that balance is always what we're looking for and that was as good as it gets."

Malik 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.

The Warriors' statement win was just one of the lopsided results of the day.

Philadelphia forward Jimmy Butler's first game against his former team was a no-contest as the 76ers destroyed the Minnesota Timberwolves 149-107.

Sixers centre Joel Embiid scored 31 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, while 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 Spurs on March 24, 1989. Their 21 three-pointers were a team record.

Butler, traded from Minnesota in November, added 19 points as seven Sixers players - including all five starters, scored in double figures.

The rout of a struggling T'Wolves team - who fired head coach Tom Thibodeau last week - was a confidence builder for the 76ers who play their next 12 games against teams with winning records.

"We've got a tough stretch coming up against all play-off teams," Embiid said.

"The next three weeks are really going to shape our season. It's going to be exciting to see where we are." - AFP

OTHER RESULTS: Indiana 131 Phoenix 97, Philadelphia 149 Minnesota 107, Atlanta 142 Oklahoma City 126, Milwaukee 124 Miami 86, LA Lakers 107 Chicago 100