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Kevin Durant returns, leads Golden State Warriors past Philadelphia 76ers

By
Gordie Jones, The Sports Xchange
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (R) is greeted by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (L) after Durant scored a three point jumper against the Memphis Grizzlies during the first half of the NBA basketball game between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors at the Oracle Arena in Oakland on January 6, 2017. EPA/JOHN G. MABANGLO
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (R) is greeted by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (L) after Durant scored a three point jumper against the Memphis Grizzlies during the first half of the NBA basketball game between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors at the Oracle Arena in Oakland on January 6, 2017. EPA/JOHN G. MABANGLO

PHILADELPHIA -- Kevin Durant, back after missing the previous game with a bruised left hand, scored 27 points, and Klay Thompson added 21 as the Golden State Warriors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-108 on Monday night.

Zaza Pachulia added a season-high 16 points for the Warriors, who improved their NBA-best record to 50-9 with their fourth straight victory. They also won for the seventh time in the eight games.

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Draymond Green contributed 14 points, 11 rebounds and five steals.

Golden State, which set a league record by going 73-9 last season, became the second team to earn its 50th victory before its 60th game in consecutive seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

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The Warriors, second in the league in 3-point accuracy entering the game (38.9), shot just 6 of 29 from beyond the arc (20.7 percent). They missed 15 of 16 attempts in the first half, and 22 of their first 25 in the game.

All-Star guard Stephen Curry, who finished with 19 points on 7-of-23 shooting, missed all 11 of his 3-point tries. It was just the third time in 211 games he has failed to connect on at least one 3-point shot.

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The Warriors were not seriously threatened in the second half, and led 99-87 when Golden State's David West was assessed a flagrant foul-1 for elbowing Dario Saric in the head as he attempted a shot in the lane early in the fourth quarter.

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Saric made both free throws and Nik Stauskas added a jumper on the subsequent possession, cutting the gap to 99-91 with 7:54 left.

West responded by assisting on the Warriors' next three field goals -- a layup by Shaun Livingston, a 3-pointer by Green and a layup by Curry -- as Golden State built its cushion to 106-92 with 5:51 left.

Saric finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for Philadelphia, and Gerald Henderson contributed 16 points.

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Earlier in the day the Sixers announced that rookie center Joel Embiid, their leading scorer and rebounder, would be out indefinitely with a bone bruise and meniscus tear in his left knee.

Embiid, who was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday afternoon, suffered the injury on Jan. 20, when he landed awkwardly after dunking against Portland. He has since missed 17 of 18 games, including the last 14.

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The team had previously announced that he would sit out at least the first four games after the All-Star break, meaning he could have potentially returned Friday against the Knicks.

The Warriors, down 31-28 late in the first quarter, rode an 18-4 run to a 46-35 lead midway through the second. Thompson provided nine points in that rush.

The Sixers reeled off 10 unanswered points, including a pair of 3-pointers by Henderson, to cut the gap to one, and were down just 59-56 at the half.

Henderson notched 12 points in the first 24 minutes, while Thompson led Golden State with 15.

Pachulia had nine of his points in the first 5:09 of the third quarter, helping stake the Warriors to an 84-70 lead, and by the end of the period Golden State was up 93-80.

NOTES: Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo said in a televised interview with Comcast SportsNet that swelling developed in C Joel Embiid's left knee in recent days and added that while the organization is "hopeful" the rookie will be able to return before the end of the season, it is not yet clear whether that is possible or not. ... Philadelphia also announced that F Ben Simmons, the first overall pick in the 2016 draft, had bone marrow injected into his surgically repaired right foot to accelerate healing. Simmons broke that foot in training camp and is out for the season. ... The Sixers bought out the contract of C Andrew Bogut, acquired from Dallas in a trade last Thursday, and waived him. "His goals aren't sort of aligned with ours," coach Brett Brown said. "He really feels, and I agree with him, (that) he wants to go play with a playoff team at this stage of his career, and make an impact." ESPN.com reported that Cleveland, San Antonio, Houston, Boston and Utah are potential destinations for Bogut, a former Warrior. ... Golden State coach Steve Kerr did not offer any updates about his team's backup point-guard vacancy, amid speculation that the Warriors will sign G Jose Calderon, who was waived by the Lakers.

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