NBA: Stephen Curry comes up clutch to lead Warriors past 76ers; Suns send Lakers to 4th loss in five games

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry celebrating after making a three-pointer against the Philadelphia 76ers, on March 2, 2019.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry celebrating after making a three-pointer against the Philadelphia 76ers, on March 2, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS/USA TODAY SPORTS

LOS ANGELES (AFP, REUTERS) - Stephen Curry sank a late tie-breaking jump shot en route to 28 points as the Golden State Warriors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 120-117 in a potential NBA Finals match-up on Saturday (March 2).

He also added two late free throws and a lay-up for the two-time defending league champion Warriors, who wanted to get their March schedule off to a flying start after a stagnant February.

Kevin Durant delivered a game-high 34 points, and DeMarcus Cousins had his highest-scoring game since joining Golden State with 25 as the Warriors snapped a two-game losing streak.

"Both teams are trying to get ready for the play-offs so the intensity was up," said Durant.

Curry's tie-breaking jumper made it 113-111 with 2:35 to go after 76ers backup Mike Scott had hit two free throws to produce the third and final tie of the fourth quarter.

Western Conference leaders Golden State, who went 7-4 in February, have never had a losing trip of four or more games in the coach Steve Kerr era.

Ben Simmons finished with a triple double with 25 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists for the 76ers, who came into the game off a two-game road sweep of New Orleans and Oklahoma City.

The Warriors had almost everybody available on Saturday after resting key players in their recent losses, but the 76ers were without star big man Joel Embiid.

The all-star centre has missed the past four games with tendinitis in his left knee and coach Brett Brown is not sure exactly when he will be able to return.

Embiid, averaging 27.3 points and 13.5 rebounds in 54 games for the Sixers, said he expects to play again next week.

Klay Thompson did not play for Golden State because of a sore right knee.

Curry picked up his fourth foul with 8:15 left in the third and sat the rest of the quarter. But with him back in the lineup in the fourth, the Warriors thwarted the 76ers' comeback bid.

"He took over the game for us," Durant said of Curry. "We need that from him."

Meanwhile, Deandre Ayton had 26 points and 10 rebounds and the Phoenix Suns avoided their first season sweep in 19 years against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers with a 118-109 victory on Saturday night.

Devin Booker scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half and Josh Jackson scored 16 off the bench for Phoenix, which has won two of three after losing 17 straight.

The Suns came into the contest 0-3 against the Lakers on the season, having lost every game by at least 14 points.

LeBron James had 27 points, nine rebounds and 16 assists for the Lakers, who have lost four of five to drop four and a half games back of the final play-off spot in the Western Conference.

Elsewhere, Donovan Mitchell scored a career-high 46 points as the Utah Jazz overcame Giannis Antetokounmpo's 43 points and a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 115-111.

Antetokounmpo also finished with 14 rebounds in 32 minutes, but missed three free throws in the final seconds.

Derrick Favors had 23 points and tied a career best with 18 rebounds. Joe Ingles had 14 points and eight assists for the red-hot Jazz, who won their fourth straight contest.

Khris Middleton scored 29 points and Brook Lopez had 16 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks for the Bucks, who had their seven-game winning streak snapped.