San Francisco Chronicle
West-leading Nuggets drop fourth straight
TORONTO — Fred VanVleet scored 36 points, O.G. Anunoby had 24 and the Toronto Raptors used a franchise-record 49point first quarter to beat Denver 125-110 on Tuesday, handing the slumping Nuggets their season-high fourth straight loss.
Nikola Jokic scored 28 points, Michael Porter Jr. had 23 and Aaron Gordon had 18 for the Western Conference-leading Nuggets, who are winless since a March 6 home victory over the Raptors.
VanVleet shot 13 for 22 and made a season-high eight of his 12 attempts from distance as Toronto extended its home winning streak to five.
Jakob Poeltl had 12 points and 11 rebounds, Pascal Siakam scored 12 points and Gary Trent Jr. had 11 for the Raptors.
Jamal Murray shot 5 for 18 and scored 14 points and Bruce Brown added 12, but the Nuggets lost the opener of a season-high, five-game trip.
CAVALIERS 120, HORNETS 104
Evan Mobley had 26 points and Cleveland scored 35 points off turnovers to beat host Charlotte for the second time in three days.
Cedi Osman scored 24 points off the bench and Caris LeVert added 22 points and seven assists for the Cavaliers, who played without All-Star guard
Donovan Mitchell (sprained finger) and center Jarrett Allen (eye contusion).
Darius Garland chipped in 19 points for the Cavaliers, who entered the game in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, 3 1⁄2 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers. The Cavs have won five of their last six games.
Kelly Oubre Jr. had 28 points and Terry Rozier added 22 points and 10 assists for the Hornets, who have lost three straight and fell to 11-27 at home.
The Hornets never looked in sync offensively. Charlotte turned the ball over 22 times in all — many of those self-inflicted — while Cleveland had just nine turnovers leading to six points for the Hornets.
WIZARDS 117, PISTONS 97
Bradley Beal scored 36 points, and Washington snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory over visiting Detroit.
Playing without Kyle Kuzma, the Wizards still raced out to a 22-point advantage in the first quarter, and although they've had issues holding those types of leads this season, the lastplace
Pistons represented little threat. Killian Hayes led Detroit with 20 points.
Washington (32-37) moved percentage points ahead of Chicago (31-36) for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Golden State Warriors ripped away the opening tip from Phoenix in Monday’s Pacific Division matchup. Moments later, they ran a play for Klay Thompson, who knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing to put Golden State on the scoreboard.
Thompson’s jumper shook Chase Center. An avalanche followed.
Fast starts have evaded the Warriors for well over a month. But the 123-112 victory over the Suns showcased just how good Golden State can be when dialed in from the jump.
The Warriors raced to a 10-2 lead, led 43-21 after the first quarter and were in front by as many as 25. The charge was paced by two of the quickest triggers in the West, Thompson and Stephen Curry, who combined for 30 points and seven 3pointers over the first 12 minutes.
The last time Golden State led by 15 or more points in a first quarter was Feb. 4 against Dallas, the same game in which Curry suffered a leg injury that sidelined him for a month.
“Yeah, that was a great start,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “I think our guys were ready to roll. We had lost three straight games to Phoenix in the regular season. My thought tonight, our guys showed the intensity right out of the gates and the execution. And that was obviously the key to the game.”
Curry scored just three points in the second quarter, but Thompson remained hot and poured in 15 more while talking trash to the Suns’ bench with every make. He had 33 points at halftime and finished with a game-high 38 and eight 3pointers (all of those in the first half ).
Thompson and Curry combined for 48 points over the first 24 minutes, their best combined half of the season. And their play gave the team enough cushion to escape with a win despite sloppy defense in the second half.
“When you have a hot shooting stretch like that, it tends to let out your emotions,” Thompson said. “It always feels good when you give back to your work.”
Warriors (36-33) improved to 29-7 at home. They have won eight straight at Chase Center but have lost eight in a row away from home and begin a five-game road trip Wednesday against the Clippers.
Golden State has the same record as the Clippers but is in fifth place in the Western Conference based on the tiebreaker. The Warriors and Clippers are a game ahead of Minnesota, the first team in the 7-10 play-in round.
“I think I glance (at the standings) every day just to see,” Curry said. “I’m not really obsessing over it. It’s more motivation to know that we need to finish the season strong to put ourselves in the best position possible, seeding-wise.”
Curry, who turned 35 on Tuesday, finished with 23 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four 3-pointers. Jordan Poole added 20 points, four treys and six assists.
Devin Booker scored a teamhigh 32 points for the Suns, who were without Kevin Durant for the third straight game.
Thompson scored five of his points in the fourth quarter, which helped neutralize a Phoenix team that refused to quit. However, Golden State’s best closer Monday night wasn’t Thompson or Curry but Poole, who scored eight points in just over three minutes to push the team’s lead back to 16 with 4:26 left.
“Although he had a couple of bad turnovers, he responded by getting to the cup, and an andone and by knocking down really big shots,” Thompson said of Poole.
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