(The Sports Xchange) - The Golden State Warriors recorded a first round knockout in their battle with the San Antonio Spurs for Western Conference regular-season superiority, riding Stephen Curry’s 37 points to a 120-90 victory in Monday’s highly anticipated showdown.
The reigning NBA Most Valuable Player bombed in five three-pointers as the Warriors (41-4) shot 11-for-26 from beyond the arc in the first meeting of the top two teams in the West this season.
Golden State’s 39th consecutive home victory — their 21st this season — gave it a three-game lead over San Antonio (38-7) in their duel for top seeding in the Western playoffs.
The loss snapped a 13-game winning streak for the Spurs, who had an 18-point average margin of victory during that run. They played without star power forward Tim Duncan, who was resting an ailing right knee.
Curry, who hit 12 of his 20 shots overall, also had four assists and five steals in 29 minutes for the Warriors, whose last home loss (Nov. 11, 2014) came at the hands of the Spurs.
In fact, San Antonio had prevailed in 23 of its previous 26 visits to Oakland before falling behind by seven in the fifth minute of the game and by as many as 19 in the second period.
Curry set the tone early, connecting on three three-pointers in a 15-point first period during which the Spurs fell behind despite playing their most competitive ball of the night.
But when backup guard Shaun Livingston got into the act with five consecutive hoops in the second period, including dunks off assists from Curry, power forward Draymond Green and reserve Andre Iguodala, the game got away from the Spurs for good.
Curry crushed the Spurs with three more three-pointers in the third period, during which the Warriors ran up a 95-66 lead to set the stage for an inconsequential final 12 minutes.
Curry added 18 points to his total in the quarter while nearly outscoring San Antonio (19) single-handedly.
“There was nothing easy about it,” Curry told reporters. “Obviously, the score was in our favor, but we had to work for everything.”
Livingston tallied 13 points for the Warriors, who won their fourth straight game. Fellow backups Brandon Rush and Marreese Speights also finished with 13 points.
Green had 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists in 27 minutes, and shooting guard Klay Thompson was a sixth Warrior in double figures with 11 points.
The Warriors shot 51.8 percent from the field, compared to San Antonio’s 41.9 percent.
Small forward Kawhi Leonard hit seven consecutive free throws in a 16-point outing for the Spurs, whose six previous losses had come by a total of just 33 points.
“At this point, they are better than us,” Spurs veteran guard Manu Ginobili said. “I’m not embarrassed to face it.”
Editing by John O'Brien