Warriors become first team to clinch playoff spot this season

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - The Golden State Warriors missed Kevin Durant's big presence on both ends of the court. They missed their snappy ball movement that leads to easy baskets and open 3-pointers.

The NBA's best team won anyway thanks to the Splash Brothers and their supporting cast - and locked up another playoff berth in the process.

Stephen Curry scored 27 points while Durant missed his first game of the season with a hand injury, and the Warriors beat the Brooklyn Nets 112-95 on Saturday night to clinch a playoff spot for the fifth straight season.

"That's pretty amazing, and I'm really proud of that, to be honest," Klay Thompson said. "I got here my first year, we hadn't been to the playoffs since '07. Before that I think it was '94. So to do it, what is it, five years in a row, can't take that for granted. That's an amazing feat, and hopefully we can do it until our careers are over."

Thompson had 24 points. Curry converted a four-point play just before halftime to put his team up 62-51 at the break. The two-time reigning MVP had five 3-pointers and five assists.

This is just a first step for these star-studded, NBA-best Warriors (49-9): They want the No. 1 seed in the West. Oh, and a championship.

"There is only one focus, it's winning a championship," Curry said.

No celebration, but Curry spoke up because he remembers the years without a postseason.

"You never take for granted the situation we're in, clinching a playoff spot so early," he said.

Coach Steve Kerr might pick moments to rest his players during a daunting road trip coming up, yet Thompson wants to play.

"We want to lock up that No. 1 seed first," he said.

Durant sat out with a bruised left hand. He injured his pinkie in the first quarter of a 123-113 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, and X-rays were negative. He practiced Friday with his left hand heavily taped and still had some discomfort Saturday.

Without KD, Golden State struggled to put the Nets away in the second half despite leading by 19 - a far cry from the Warriors' 50-point third quarter against the Clippers.

Curry dribbled past Brook Lopez, scored and was fouled for a key three-point play with 2:59 remaining to put the Warriors up 11. He knocked down a 3 the next time down.

Rookie Patrick McCaw started in place of Durant and finished with nine points and two blocked shots in his fourth career start, while Andre Iguodala had a season-high nine assists.

JaVale McGee, who was ripped on, called a bum and threatened by Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal in a Twitter spat after Thursday night's game, had seven points and nine rebounds off the bench.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 16 points in the Nets' 16th straight defeat.

"We're trending in the right direction in terms of sharing the ball," coach Kenny Atkinson said.


The Warriors' five straight playoff berths are the team's second-longest run since doing so for six straight years from 1946-52. They were the first team to clinch this season and did so in February for the second straight year. At Feb. 25, the Warriors are the fastest team ever to clinch a playoff spot, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Last season's Golden State team set the record at Feb. 27.


Nets: F Caris LeVert was sidelined feeling ill. ... Brooklyn's Jeremy Lin started for the second straight night after missing the previous 26 games because of a strained left hamstring and scored nine points. The Nets haven't won since Jan. 20 at New Orleans. They hung tough with the league's top team while playing the second game of a back-to-back after losing at Denver on Friday night. ... The Nets are winless in February, 0-3 on the road.

Warriors: Kerr said Golden State will not re-sign Briante Weber following the expiration of his second 10-day contract. The Warriors had to make a decision by Sunday. ... In the case of Durant and others, Kerr is being cautious with all of his players given an upcoming stretch with eight games in 13 days that includes a cross-country trip, return to the Bay Area for one then back-to-back games at Minnesota and San Antonio on March 10-11. ... Draymond Green reached 500 career steals.


Nets: At Sacramento on Wednesday for their debut at new Golden 1 Center. Brooklyn will get two much-needed "training-camp mode" practices, Atkinson said.

Warriors: At Philadelphia on Monday looking for a seventh straight win in the series and fourth in a row on the road.