OAKLAND â€” Klay Thompson scored 26 points, Stephen Curry had 19 points and nine assists and the Golden State Warriors secured a playoff spot before beating the depleted Los Angeles Lakers 108-105 on Monday night.
The Warriors sealed their postseason berth during a timeout late in the second quarter when they learned Oklahoma City lost 119-115 at Dallas. The videoboards above halfcourt displayed “CLINCHED,” and fans inside the sold-out arena gave the home team a standing ovation.
It's the first time the franchise has made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons since 1975-77.
The Lakers (17-49), who have tormented Golden State for most of the last three decades, are the team trying to climb out of the Pacific Division cellar now. Los Angeles kept the game close but never overtook the Warriors in the final minutes.
Jordan Hill hit a hook shot for the Lakers to tie the game at 95-all with 4:42 remaining.
Thompson quickly answered with a 3-pointer, then Curry tossed a behind-the-back pass to Andre Igoudala for a dunk. Thompson followed with a layup to put Golden State up 102-95.
Los Angeles rallied within one, and the teams traded free throws in the final seconds â€” the Lakers fouling intentionally, and the Warriors playing aggressive and not wanting their opponents to attempt a tying 3-pointer.
Draymond Green finally finished the Lakers off by deflecting the ball off Wesley Johnson for a turnover.
Jordan Clarkson and Wayne Ellington each scored 17 points, Johnson added 16 and Hill had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, who have lost eight of nine.
Green added 16 points and eight rebounds, and Harrison Barnes had 11 points for the Warriors, who already surpassed last season's win total of 51 â€” and nearly let the franchise's latest milestone go unnoticed.
Coach Steve Kerr said neither he nor his players even knew they could claim a playoff spot Monday until a public relations official told him just before the game. That was a far different reaction than the beginning of this run two years ago, when then-coach Mark Jackson got teary eyed and owner Joe Lacob offered handshakes and hugs to players in the locker room.
The Warriors have their sights set higher now â€” much higher.
Golden State (52-13) has a 6Â½-game lead over Memphis for the top spot in the Western Conference and is trying to finish with the NBA's best record. The Warriors welcome East-leading Atlanta (53-14) to Oracle Arena on Wednesday night.
But the good vibes in Oakland were almost washed away by a spirted effort from the visitors Monday.
The usual sprinkling of Lakers fans in the Bay Area roared as their team raced out to a 22-17 lead in the opening minutes. The Warriors went ahead by nine in the second quarter, led 58-54 at the half and held just an 82-78 advantage after the third quarter as Los Angeles continued to apply pressure.
Golden State also got a brief scare when Thompson turned his right ankle awkwardly as he stepped on Tarik Black's foot in traffic in the third quarter. The All-Star shooting guard had his ankle re-taped in the locker room and returned in the fourth to help the Warriors find their form.
Lakers: Reserve swingman Nick Young had a CT scan on his swollen left knee, which has forced him to miss the last 11 games. Coach Byron Scott says the team expects to release results Tuesday. … Los Angeles is 7-26 on the road this season.
Warriors: Golden State has won 16 in a row at home against Western Conference opponents. … The Warriors are a league-best 30-2 at home. It's the seventh time in franchise history they've won at least 30 games at home. The franchise record is 36, set in the 1975-76 season.
Lakers: Host Utah on Thursday.
Warriors: Host Atlanta on Wednesday.