NBA: Cousins returns and leads Warriors to beat Pacers, Jokic takes balanced Nuggets past Wizards

Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins (in yellow) attempts to drive past Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis in the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena.
Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins (in yellow) attempts to drive past Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis in the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. ST PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - DeMarcus Cousins contributed six points to a third-quarter runaway in his return to the line-up on Thursday (March 21) night, helping the National Basketball Association champions Golden State Warriors blow out the Indiana Pacers 112-89 in Oakland, California.

All five starters scored in double figures as the Warriors (49-22), who had lost three of their previous four at home, were able to retain a half-game lead over the Denver Nuggets (48-22) in their duel for best record in the Western Conference.

In another game, Nikola Jokic had 15 points and 11 assists as the Nuggets won their five straight by holding off the Washington Wizards 113-108.

The loss by the Pacers (44-29) saw their lead over Boston (43-29) trimmed to a half-game in their fight for the fourth seed in the East.

The Warriors used an 18-10 burst late in the second quarter to take a 53-43 half-time advantage before busting the game open early in the third.

Cousins had three hoops, Kevin Durant a three-pointer and Draymond Green a three-point play in an 11-0 flurry that doubled what had been an 11-point lead, vaulting the hosts into a commanding 70-48 lead just past the midpoint of the third period.

In winning for the fourth time in their last five games, the Warriors went up by as many as 28 before the end of the third quarter, then coasted home.

Cousins, who had missed the final two games of Golden State's just completed four-game trip with a sore ankle, recorded a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double in 26 minutes of action.

Klay Thompson (18 points), Durant (15), Stephen Curry (15), Andre Iguodala (11) and Green (10) also scored in double figures for the Warriors, who had lost their previous home game to Phoenix.

Curry complemented his 15 points with a game-high seven assists. He made five of his 12 3-point shots, nearly single-handedly outscoring the Pacers (6 of 23) from beyond the arc.

Golden State outshot the visitors 49.4 per cent to 38.5.

Tyreke Evans had a game-high 20 points off the bench, and Thaddeus Young 18 for the Pacers, who went 0-4 on a Western swing to Denver, Portland and Los Angeles, where they were coming off a 115-109 loss to the Clippers on Tuesday.

Aaron Holiday chipped in with 13 points and Doug McDermott 11 for Indiana, who were swept in the season series by Golden State in rather dominant fashion. The Warriors had won 132-100 at Indiana in January.

The Pacers' Domantas Sabonis was the game's leading rebounder with 12 off the bench to go with five points.

Aganist the Wizards, eight Nuggets scored in double figures, including Paul Millsap, Gary Harris, Jamal Murray and Torrey Craig, who had 15 points each.

With the scored tied 90-90, Craig hit a three-pointer that started a 10-0 run capped by Malik Beasley's three-pointer.

Bradley Beal's consecutive lay-ups pulled Washington within 102-98 with 3:37 remaining. He struck again when his steal and lay-up cut the Nuggets' lead to 106-104 with 1:53 to go, but Denver got a Murray lay-up, and after a Beal miss, a three-pointer by Will Barton.

The Wizards hit four free throws to pull within 111-108, but Thomas Bryant missed a three-point attempt. Harris missed two free throws but got the rebound and made two with 7.3 seconds left to ice it.

Beal scored 25 points for the Wizards, 11th in the Eastern Conference, who have lost three straight. Bryant scored 22, and Tomas Satoransky had 16 points and 10 assists.

Washington converted 21 of 39 field goals (53.8 per cent). For the game, the Nuggets outshot the Wizards, 52.9 per cent to 50.6 per cent.