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Thunder rout Warriors, take West's top spot

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The last time the Golden State Warriors made the playoffs, they stunned the West's top seed, the Dallas Mavericks, in the first round in one of the biggest upsets in NBA history.

After the dominant fashion in which the playoff-bound Warriors got shellacked Thursday night, it now appears a best-of-seven win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, should the clubs match up in the postseason, would be every bit the shocker.

The Thunder took a big step toward securing the top seed in the Western Conference on Thursday night, running away from the Warriors behind Kevin Durant's 14 third-quarter points en route to a 116-97 victory. Durant finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

The win gave the Thunder (58-21) a half-game lead over the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the conference and the home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs with less than a week remaining in the regular season. Oklahoma City also holds the tiebreaker advantage over San Antonio.

A Thunder-Warriors first-round pair remains a possibility, even if Golden State coach Mark Jackson didn't like the obvious conclusion to be drawn from Thursday's drubbing.

"They played playoff basketball and we didn't," Jackson said of the Thunder. "That was a team chasing the No. 1 seed and was trying to send a message just in case I see you at some point down the road."

Meanwhile, the Warriors (45-34) lost more than just a game in their first outing after clinching their first playoff berth since 2007. Center Andrew Bogut sprained his surgically repaired left ankle in the first quarter, headed to the locker room and did not return to action.

No X-rays were taken after the game, an indication the Warriors did not think the injury was serious. That said, Jackson announced Bogut would not make the late-night flight to Los Angeles for Friday's quick turnaround against the Lakers.

"It makes no sense," Jackson said when asked if Bogut would face the Lakers. "It's important for us to make sure it's right."

The veteran has missed 42 games this season because of the ankle.

The loss sliced the Warriors' lead over Houston (44-34) to a half-game in the battle for the sixth playoff spot in the West. The Rockets hold the tiebreaker.

The Thunder took command of Thursday's game almost immediately after the halftime break, getting consecutive 3-pointers from Thabo Sefolosha in a 9-2 burst that opened a 69-56 advantage.

Oklahoma City also lost its starting center during that stretch, with Kendrick Perkins leaving the game for good due to right hamstring tightness. Thunder coach Scott Brooks later labeled Perkins' benching a precautionary move and wouldn't rule Perkins out of Friday's game at Portland.

Durant hit five of his six shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, later in the third period as the Thunder extended its lead to as many as 20 points en route to the comfortable victory.

"We were clicking on all cylinders tonight," said Durant, who averaged 28.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.8 assists in four games against the Warriors this season, three of them Thunder wins. "Everybody chipped in, and that's what we need heading into the playoffs."

Russell Westbrook contributed 18 points and nine assists to the win, and Kevin Martin came off the bench to score 23 points, hitting four of five 3-pointers and eight of 10 shots overall.

Serge Ibaka (17) and Sefolosha (10) also scored in double figures for the Thunder, which won for the eighth time in 10 games.

The Thunder's past six games have been against playoff contenders, and Oklahoma City has won five of them.

"Our approach was to embrace the challenge," Brooks said. "I think our guys have done a good job of that."

Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 22 points, hitting half his 18 shots, and Jarrett Jack came off the bench to chip in 19 points. David Lee added a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double.

Afterward, the Warriors appeared more concerned about their big man's health than merely losing one game.

"It's disappointing," Lee said of Bogut's absence. "He's been a big part of what we've been able to do. We'll just cross our fingers and hope it's just a little setback."

NOTES: The Thunder hit 50.6 percent of their shots in the game, the 28th time this season they've made at least half of their shots in a game. They are 26-2 in those outings. ... The game paired the league's best (Warriors, 40.2 percent) and third-best (Thunder, 38.1 percent) teams in 3-point shooting percentage, and both added to their lofty marks, with Golden State hitting seven of 16 (43.8 percent) and Oklahoma City 12 of 27 (44.4 percent). Only eight teams in NBA history have completed a season with a 3-point rate of 40.0 percent or better. ... Curry connected on his 250th 3-pointer of the season in the second quarter, joining Ray Allen, Dennis Scott and George McCloud as players who have made 250 or more in a single season. ... Bogut played only nine minutes in his first appearance against the Thunder since Nov. 20, 2010, when he was as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. ... Asked before the game why he's pushing his team to beat out San Antonio for the No. 1 playoff position in the West, Brooks said, "It's always important to have an extra home game in a playoff series." ... Jackson gushed over Durant, saying, "The guy is an all-time great, and I don't just throw that out there. To be his size, to be that athletic and to be able to shoot that well -- the guy is off the charts. This game has not seen anyone like Kevin Durant in its history."
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