Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each scored 31 points as the Golden State Warriors, propelled by an NBA-record, 51-point first quarter, regained the top spot in the Western Conference by routing the Denver Nuggets 142-111 on Tuesday night.
Golden State cruised to a fifth straight win to move a half-game in front of the Nuggets, who had their 12-game home winning streak snapped.
The showdown between the top two teams in the conference proved a little too big for the Nuggets, with Curry and Company putting on a shooting exhibition all night long. The clinic began early with the Warriors erupting for 51 points in the opening quarter, breaking the old mark of 50 held by several teams. The last time it happened was also against Denver when Phoenix scored 50 on Nov. 10, 1990.
Golden State shot a blistering 60 percent from the field, had 38 assists and hit 21 3-pointers in leading wire-to-wire. Kevin Durant finished with 27 points and Draymond Green was a plus-41 as he had 13 assists to go with four points.
Malik Beasley finished with 22 points for the Nuggets. Big man Nikola Jokic struggled with early foul trouble, finishing with 17 points and eight assists in 23 minutes.
Denver knocked off Golden State 100-98 in Denver on Oct. 21 thanks to Juancho Hernangomez blocking a layup at the buzzer. This version of the matchup was never close.
And this demonstrates just how dominant the Warriors were in the opening half: Denver scored 60, shooting 49 percent from the floor, and still trailed by 19 at the break.
In pregame, the Nuggets deflected the notion this was a big game, but did acknowledge it was an important gauge.
"You always want to measure yourself against the best, let's be honest," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "That allows you to truly see where you're at and how much farther you have to go."
It didn't go well.
For the Warriors, the matchup was just business as usual.
"It doesn't mean anything until the end of the year," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. "They all count."
Warriors: Green was given a technical in the second quarter for arguing a call. ... F Kevon Looney grabbed 12 rebounds.
Nuggets: G Gary Harris missed a fifth straight game with tightness in his left hamstring. ... G Jamal Murray scored 21.
THE COUSINS COUNTDOWN
Golden State center DeMarcus Cousins remains on schedule to make his Warriors debut Friday in Los Angeles against the Clippers. He's been steadily progressing after tearing his left Achilles tendon last January while with New Orleans. Cousins signed a one-year deal with Golden State in the offseason.
"When he's healthy, he's one of the more unstoppable big men in the NBA," said Malone, who coached Cousins when they were both with Sacramento. "He'll give them a definite lift."
Kerr is pulling for quarterback Jared Goff - "a good family friend," he said - and the Los Angeles Rams to get to the Super Bowl.
"I was a Rams fan growing up," Kerr said. "You're all too young to remember their first L.A. experience. That was my team growing up."
Warriors: Host New Orleans on Wednesday. The Warriors are 5-1 in the second game of a back-to-back this season.
Nuggets: Host Chicago on Thursday. Denver has beaten the Bulls 11 straight times at Pepsi Center.