NBA: Nuggets clinch division title, Westbrook averages season triple-double

Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook shoots during the game against the Detroit Pistons at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook shoots during the game against the Detroit Pistons at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS/REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Nikola Jokic tallied 22 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists as the Denver Nuggets clinched the Northwest Division title with a 119-110 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday (April 5).

Paul Millsap scored 25 points and Jamal Murray had 23 as Denver locked up at least the No. 3 seed in the National Basketball Association's Western Conference.

Denver have a slim chance at gaining the top seed but the first-placed Golden State Warriors also won on Friday, 120-114 over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Denver lead the Houston Rockets by 1½ games for the second seed in the West.

"That's big," said Murray of the division title. "Everybody knows how well we play at home."

Enes Kanter had 24 points, Rodney Hood had 17 and Al-Farouq Aminu had 12 points and 14 rebounds for Portland who dropped to 50-29 on the season.

Damian Lillard scored 14 points and missed all six of his three-point attempts.

The same teams meet again on Sunday night with the Nuggets having won the last six in a row.

"This was our night and it is going to carry over when we go to their place," said Murray. "We have to bring the same energy, same pace and try to get it done."

In Oakland, Stephen Curry bounced back from his lowest scoring game of the season to deliver 40 points as the Warriors moved to within one win of clinching the top seed by beating the struggling Cavaliers.

Golden State just need a win on Sunday over the Los Angeles Clippers to seal the top seed in the West play-offs which begin next weekend.

The Warriors swept LeBron James' Cavaliers in last season's NBA finals.

Golden State led wire-to-wire Friday and at one stage had a whopping 21-point lead.

In Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook secured his third straight season averaging a triple-double as the Thunder beat the Detroit Pistons 123-110 in a NBA contest crucial to both teams' play-off hopes.

Westbrook finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and 15 assists and has now averaged 10 or more points, rebounds, assists over the course of the season. He also averaged 10 or more figures in 2017-18 and 2016-17 campaigns.

He is the only player to achieve the feat in consecutive seasons and he also leads the league in assists.

Paul George scored 30 points and Jerami Grant had 19 for Oklahoma City who won for the second straight game and fourth time in the past seven.

The Thunder improved to 46-33 on the season and remain in seventh place in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of the San Antonio Spurs, who also won on Friday.

The Pistons lost for the third consecutive game and for the sixth time in their past eight.

Detroit dropped into a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference with the Brooklyn Nets, just a game ahead of the ninth-place Miami Heat.

Pistons' Blake Griffin tallied 45 points, but when the game got close he scored just one point in the fourth quarter.

Also, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward combined for 43 points as the Boston Celtics seized sole possession of fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings with a 117-97 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Tatum had 22 points and Hayward 21 for the visiting Celtics who are battling for home-court advantage in the post-season. Boston are also trying to catch third-placed Philadelphia in the standings.

The Celtics improved to 48-32 on the season to break a fourth-place tie with the Pacers.