Stephen Ellison

Warriors Triumph Over Nuggets in Showdown For West's Best

The Golden State Warriors made a statement Tuesday night in a 116-102 win over the Denver Nuggets in a showdown for the top seed in the Western Conference.

For much of the season, the Warriors have tried and failed to find the necessary effort for big home games. That wasn't the case Tuesday night when they overwhelmed the Nuggets.

The win, like each of the previous three matchups, proved the Warriors' superiority over the second-best team in the Western Conference, while showing why the road to a third straight title is an easy one if they want it to be.

The victory also all-but-clinched homecourt advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs, as the Warriors now have a two-game lead over Denver in addition to a tiebreaker for winning the season series.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the game.

Efficient Durant Dismissal: Hours before Tuesday's game, Durant said he doesn't plan on how he'll attack a defense before a game, opting to let 'The Spirit' guide his game.

Well, on Tuesday, the higher power apparently told him to continue his efficient ways and he obliged, scoring 10 of his 21 points in the second quarter, finishing 9-of-13 from the floor, adding six assists and three assists, before getting ejected in the third quarter.

Durant has been uber efficient lately, shooting over 60 percent from the field over his last five games. The Warriors aren't expecting the low shot attempts to last, but if the wins keep piling up, it won't matter.

Boogie Nights: In a battle of centers, DeMarcus Cousins flourished, scoring 12 of his game-high 28 points in his first 12 minutes. More importantly, he was engaged, diving for loose balls and bringing a defensive effort to help hold Denver big man Nikola Jokic to just 4-of-10 from the field.

In recent games, Cousins is becoming the player the Warriors hope he'd be when they signed him to a mid-level exception last summer. His offensive output combined, with his recent stretch of solid defense will be the difference when the playoffs arrive.

Second quarter defense: In the quarter that broke the game open, the Warriors outscored Denver 29-19, holding the Nuggets to just 34.8 percent from the field and 10 percent from 3-point range.

Durant, Draymond Green and Cousins all finished with two blocks, helping the Warriors put together a championship level defensive effort. This season, Golden State's defense has been up and down based on their attention level. If their focus remains how it was Tuesday night, a third straight title will be in their sights.

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