NBA

Durant tunes up for playoffs with 29 points in Warriors' win

(TSX / STATS) -- OAKLAND, Calif. -- Kevin Durant is ready for the postseason.

Because of that, the Golden State Warriors are ready as well.

Durant stamped himself healthy for the playoffs by scoring 29 points in 27 minutes Wednesday night, lifting the Warriors to a 109-94 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the regular-season finale.

Stephen Curry added 20 points for the Warriors, who will begin the postseason with the home-court advantage in any matchup based on their best-in-basketball, 67-15 regular-season record.

"Feel good. Feel confident," Curry said of the two-time defending Western Conference champs, who will host Game 1 of a best-of-seven first-round series Sunday afternoon against the Portland Trail Blazers. "I just like the way we ended the season this year."

The Lakers (26-56) saw their five-game winning streak end, and they finished with the third-worst record in the NBA. They now must await the bounce of the ping-pong balls to determine their draft fate.

The Lakers would lose their first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls outside the top three. Los Angeles has less than a 50 percent chance of earning a top-three pick in the lottery.

"We knew coming down that the chances of winning a lot of games wasn't very high," said Lakers coach Luke Walton, a Warriors assistant last season. "But we wanted to get in here and start working with the group and build relationships and build toward something special. I think that we did that."

Durant, who had missed all nine of his 3-point attempts since returning from a 19-game absence last week, bombed in 5 of 7 to produce a majority of his points.

"I missed two open ones," he said. "I made five. That was better than last game. But I feel I can go to another number."

Durant's 27 minutes were right in line with the 31 and 33 he logged in his first two games back from a sprained knee.

"Each day has gotten better," he said of the injury he sustained on Feb. 28. "I was more aggressive. That was a good thing. I'm headed in the right direction."

Durant wasted little time ending his 3-point shooting drought, hitting a 27-footer in the fourth minute.

When Curry connected on his second 3-pointer of the game on the Warriors' next possession, Golden State held a 16-8 lead just 4:03 into the contest.

Durant added two more 3-pointers in the first period, during which the Warriors opened a 43-28 lead on the strength of six threes and 55.6 percent shooting overall.

The Lakers weren't appreciably closer the rest of the way.

"This is the cream of the crop in the NBA," Walton said of the Warriors. "I loved the way (we) turned it on at least in the fourth (quarter) and closed out the season. It was unfortunate about the first three quarters, but Golden State is a good team."

Durant also found time for a team-high eight rebounds as Golden State captured the season series 3-1 despite losing 117-97 in the first meeting in November.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Durant, "The first two games (of his return), I thought he was solid. Tonight he was spectacular."

Curry took 17 shots in 28 minutes, missing 11. But five of the six he made were from 3-point range, accounting for most of his scoring. He also had a game-high eight assists.

All five Lakers starters scored in double figures, led by Jordan Clarkson with 17 points on 8-for-16 shooting.

"We started off really good this year," Clarkson said of an early stretch that included the win over the Warriors. "We thought it was going to be a different year for us. But, you know, stuff happens. We've just got to figure out a way to pull it together."

The Lakers made only 4 of 17 3-point attempts and were outscored 36-12 from behind the arc.

Larry Nance Jr. had a game-high 11 rebounds to complement 13 points for the Lakers, who have lost nine straight at Golden State.

NOTES: The Warriors swept Portland 4-0 during the regular season, winning by an average of 26.5 points at home and 12.5 points on the road. ... The Warriors rested PF Draymond Green and supersub SF Andre Iguodala in the regular-season finale. ... The Lakers were without PG D'Angelo Russell, who was in Kentucky following the death of his grandmother. ... None of the four games in the Warriors-Lakers season series this season was decided by fewer than 15 points. ... The Warriors' 67-win total equaled the seventh most in NBA history. Golden State set the all-time record of 73 wins last season. ... The Lakers missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. They earned a postseason berth in 60 of the first 65 seasons in franchise history.

Updated April 13, 2017


@STATS_Insights