LOS ANGELES — Stephen Curry returned from a one-game absence to hit five 3-pointers and total a game-high 26 points Sunday night as the Golden State Warriors shook off the embarrassment of a 35-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks one day earlier to turn back the Detroit Pistons 121-114 in Oakland, Calif.
The Golden State win, coupled with Denver’s loss at Indiana earlier in the day, allowed the Warriors to move a half-game ahead of the Nuggets in the race for the best record in the Western Conference.
The loss dropped Detroit from sixth to seventh in the Eastern Conference and further jumbled the five-team battle for the final three playoff spots. That duel also includes the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets.
Blake Griffin had 24 points, and Andre Drummond had a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double for the Pistons, who shot 46.4 percent overall and 12 for 31 (38.7 percent) on 3-pointers.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 48 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as visiting San Antonio rolled to a win over reeling Boston to snap a two-game losing streak.
Aldridge’s points were the second-most of his career, following his 56 in a double-overtime win over Oklahoma City earlier this season. DeMar DeRozan added 16 points for the Spurs, who have won 10 of their past 12, while Patty Mills hit for 12 points off the bench, and Jakob Poeltl grabbed 10 rebounds for San Antonio.
Marcus Smart led the Celtics with 14 points, with Marcus Morris and Gordon Hayward adding 13 each, and Kyrie Irving and Daniel Theis scoring 11 points apiece. Hayward paced Boston with 10 rebounds and Irving had 12 assists as the Celtics lost their fourth game in a row.
James Harden scored 28 points and Houston clinched a playoff berth with an easy victory over host New Orleans.
Harden, who leads the NBA with an average of 36.4 points per game, didn’t sustain the pace that saw him score a combined 118 points in the previous two games, but it wasn’t necessary. He played just 29 minutes as the Rockets rolled to a 14-point lead at the end of the first quarter and cruised to their 14th victory in 16 games and remained in third place in the Western Conference.
Frank Jackson scored 19 points, Julius Randle added 15, Stanley Johnson scored 13 and Anthony Davis had 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Pelicans, who lost for the eighth time in nine games as they played the opener of a five-game homestand.
Jeremy Lamb’s desperation 48-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer gave visiting Charlotte a stunning victory in Toronto.
After the Raptors trailed by 14 points less than a minute into the fourth quarter, Kawhi Leonard gave them the lead on a jumper with 45 seconds left, then made a block at the other end. But the Hornets had one big play left in them, and they won their third straight game.
Kemba Walker scored 15 points and added 13 assists and eight rebounds for the Hornets, who were led in scoring by Dwayne Bacon with 20 points. Miles Bridges added 16 points, Willy Hernangomez and Lamb had 13 each, and Devonte’ Graham and Marvin Williams 10 points each.
Bojan Bogdanovic exploded for 35 points while teammates Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis recorded double-doubles as host Indiana avenged a loss to Denver last week in a duel of teams battling for NBA playoff positioning.
The win allowed the Pacers, coming off a four-game road losing streak that included a 102-100 defeat in Denver on March 16, to solidify their standing as the No. 4 team in the Eastern Conference with just eight games remaining.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets failed in their quest to win a 50th game as they challenge Golden State for the top spot in the West, with the Warriors ending Sunday with a half-game lead.
Giannis Antetokounmpo collected 26 points and 10 rebounds as host Milwaukee posted a 22-point victory over Cleveland.
George Hill and Khris Middleton each had 17 points, and Brook Lopez scored all 14 of his points in the first half for the Bucks, who avenged a 107-102 setback to the Cavaliers on Wednesday. Antetokounmpo sat out that contest with an ankle injury, but he made his presence felt on Sunday by shooting 11 for 16 from the floor and adding seven assists and four blocks. — Reuters