(The Sports Xchange)(REUTERS) – The Golden State Warriors finally got their defense in high gear Tuesday night, limiting the Washington Wizards to 41.9 percent shooting en route to their 54th consecutive home-court win, a 102-94 victory over an Eastern Conference playoff contender.
The Warriors, who held only four of their previous 18 opponents under 100 points, limited the Wizards to one field goal over a 9-minute, 58-second stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters in building an insurmountable lead.
The result was Golden State’s franchise-record-tying 67th win of the season.
Stephen Curry led four Warriors starters in double figures with 26 points as Golden State (67-7) pulled five games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs in the race for top seeding in the Western Conference playoffs.
The win was the Warriors’ 10th in their past 11 meetings with the Wizards, who fell into 10th place in the Eastern playoff chase. Washington (36-38) sits three games behind the Indiana Pacers (39-35), who currently reside in the eighth and final postseason slot.
The Warriors closed the first half on a 12-0 run to take a three-point halftime lead, but they were on top just 72-70 after Wizards forward Markieff Morris buried a 3-pointer with 2:20 remaining in the third period.
However, Washington made only one more field goal — a layup by Nene — in nearly the next 10 minutes, during which the Warriors rolled up a 95-76 advantage with under 5:00 remaining in the game.
A fastbreak layup by backup Jared Dudley with 4:22 to go ended a Wizards drought that saw them miss 12 of 13 shots.
The Warriors, meanwhile, went up 79-72 on a 3-pointer by Draymond Green with 6.8 seconds remaining in the third period, then eased away in the fourth quarter thanks in part to Curry’s sixth 3-pointer of the game, one he banked in from straight away with 6:07 to go.
Curry, who had 51 points when the Warriors won 134-121 at Washington earlier this season, finished 9-for-20 from the field and 6-for-8 on 3-pointers. He also found time for seven rebounds and seven assists.
Green contributed 15 points, a game-high 16 rebounds and nine assists to the win, and Klay Thompson, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, added 16 points.
Thompson shot just 2-for-8 from 3-point range, but the two successes brought his total for the month of March to 76, breaking the NBA record of 75 for the month set last year by Curry.
Harrison Barnes was a fourth Warriors starter in double figures with 14 points to go with nine rebounds.
Bradley Beal had 17 points to lead the Wizards, who were playing for the second time on a five-game Western swing and lost for just the third time in their past nine games.
Morris (15), Otto Porter Jr. (11) and Nene (10) also scored in double figures for the Wizards, but star point guard John Wall was limited to eight
points, ending his streak of consecutive games in double figures at 31.
Wall, who led Washington with 11 assists, had recorded double-doubles in his previous nine games. He burned the Warriors for 41 points in the earlier meeting this season.
Marcin Gortat was Washington’s top rebounder with 11.
After trailing by as many as eight in the first quarter, the Wizards shockingly spurted into a 46-37 lead late in the second period.
Wall had a hand in all four field goals in a 9-0 run that produced the nine-point lead, hitting a pair of shots and assisting hoops by Beal (a 3-pointer) and Gortat.
But just when it appeared the Warriors would be saddled with a rare halftime deficit at home, they countered with a flurry of their own, scoring the final 12 points of the second period.
Curry led the charge, burying two 3-pointers and a layup before assisting a Shaun Livingston dunk in a 12-0 spree that exhausted the final 2:24 of the half and produced a 49-46 halftime advantage.