By Matthew Harrington
The Golden State Warriors locked in their spot in the 2014 NBA Playoffs Friday night at the Staples Center, riding a Stephen Curry triple-double to a 112-95 dismantling of the host Los Angeles Lakers. By matching or outscoring the Lakers (25-54) in all but one quarter the Dubs clinched their second-consecutive playoff berth under coach Mark Jackson and their first back-to-back postseason qualifications since 1992.
Warriors All-Star Curry fired off 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds over 34 minutes for his fifth-career triple-double. Klay Thompson and reserve Marreese Speights finished with 16 points apiece. David Lee joined Curry in double-digit rebounded with 10 boards.
Nick Young paced the forum purple with 25 points, and Jordan Hill and Ryan Kelly pitched in 18 and 14 respectively. Hill also had a game-high 12 points.
Golden State (49-30) nailed 48.9 percent of shots attempted, including a 13-for-25 clip from beyond the arc. The injury-riddled Lakers hit 39.3 percent of their field goals including only 9-of-28 from downtown. The Warriors dominated the glass with 57 rebounds to LA’s 42.
Both sides finished the first 12 minutes with 26 points. The Warriors rode a huge second quarter to pull ahead 58-42, notching 32 second-quarter points to Los Angeles’ 17. Golden State survived a Lakers 26-25 third quarter scoring margin before finishing off the home team with a 29-26 run to wrap up a playoff bid.
For now, the Warriors sit 1.5 games ahead of the Dallas Mavericks for sixth-place in the Western Conference with Golden State boasting a game in hand. The Portland Trailblazers sit 2.5 games ahead of the Warriors with three games remaining for the Dubs meaning in all likelihood, Golden State will be returning to Los Angeles and the Staples Center to face the third-seed Clippers when the playoffs begin. For now, the task at hand for Jackson’s side is a showdown with the Blazers on Sunday in Portland before the second half of a back-to-back against Minnesota at Oracle. The Warriors then get a chance to wrap up the regular season with revenge against the Denver Nuggets, 100-99 winners in a April 10th showdown in Oakland.