MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Kevin Durant had the best shooting night of his career to help the Golden State Warriors take the outright Western Conference lead.
Durant and Stephen Curry each scored 28 points, with Durant going 12 of 13 from the field, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies 118-103 on Wednesday night.
Curry also had 10 rebounds, and DeMarcus Cousins added 16 points and nine rebounds. The Warriors broke a tie with idle Denver for the top spot in the West.
“We’re not looking at it. Obviously, it’s something, coming down the stretch of the season, you want to know what the matchups are looking like,” said Durant, who was unaware they regained first place. “Each game is important from top to bottom. From the eighth seed to the top, so you are going to take a peek at it, but you are not really writing it on a white board or looking at it.”
Jonas Valanciunas led Memphis with 27 points and 13 rebounds, and Mike Conley added 22 points to take the franchise’s career scoring lead and added eight assists. Bruno Caboclo had 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Injuries to key Memphis players have shortened the rotation. Conley said the pace of the game finally caught up with the Grizzlies, contributing to fatigue in the fourth.
“They’re a team that moves so well without the ball,” Conley said about Golden State. “They’ve got so many weapons and just push the tempo. Eventually, it gets into your legs a little bit.”
Memphis had recently made life tough on visiting playoff teams fighting for seeding in the West. This month, the Grizzlies recorded home wins over Portland, Utah Houston and Oklahoma City. At times, they were close to adding Golden State to the list until a bad fourth quarter. Memphis shot 24 percent in the final frame, making only two of 12 shots from 3-point range.
Durant scored seven straight points in a 9-0 run that made it 100-92 midway through the fourth quarter, part of Golden State pulling away at the end, outscoring Memphis 29-19 in the fourth.
“He was picking and choosing his spots early on, facilitating,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said about Durant. “And then, when we needed him the most, he just took the game over offensively and got buckets for us. So, it was a great night for him, and we needed it. That was a tough game.”
Warriors: Golden State suspended center Jordan Bell for the game for conduct detrimental to the team. ... The Warriors have won five straight against the Grizzlies. ... Seven of their last nine games, including Wednesday, are against teams with sub-.500, including the Grizzlies a second time on April 10 — the last day of the regular season. .. Andrew Bogut entered late in the first half, playing in his 700th career game. ... Durant’s previous best shooting night was converting 8 of 9 against Phoenix on Feb. 12, 2018.
Grizzlies: Conley’s 3-pointer with 2:50 left in the second quarter moved him to first place on the franchise scoring list, passing former teammate Marc Gasol. Conley returned to the lineup after missing two of the previous three games, including Monday’s win over Oklahoma City with left thigh soreness. ... Reserve C Joakim Noah missed his second straight game and third in the last four with right knee pain. ... Justin Holiday converted a last-second shot from 35 feet to close the first quarter. He also tied a franchise record for steals in a quarter with four in the first.
TESTY FIRST HALF
Golden State led 66-60 after a spirited first half of good shooting, bickering between players and coaches, players and refs and players and a fan or two. Durant and Valanciunas had technicals in the half.
GREEN AT THE EDGE
Draymond Green got a technical in the second half. When asked if that changed his approach at all, he replied that he hasn’t check how many techs he has drawn all season. Told it was 14, two short of a one-game suspension, he said: “How many games we got left? Eight? We’ve got eight games left? I got one to play with.”
Warriors: At Minnesota on Friday night
Grizzlies: Begin a four-game trip Saturday night in Phoenix