It was a match-up between the top two teams in the Western Conference, and when it was all over, the second place Golden State Warriors had not only defeated the top-ranked Denver Nuggets 142-111, but they did it while posting an NBA record 51 points in just the first quarter.
The Nuggets were no slouches either, scoring 38 points in those first 12 minutes. However, that was even less than what Kevin Durant (17 pts), Klay Thompson (13 pts) and Steph Curry (12 pts) scored among just the three of them in the first. The three Warrior stars also drained the teams 10 first quarter 3-pointers which is now a franchise record.
Kevin Durant - 17 PTS, 3 3PM— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) January 16, 2019
Klay Thompson - 13 PTS, 3 3PM
Steph Curry - 12 PTS, 4 3PM
The @warriors scored 51 points in the first quarter, an NBA record for most points scored in a first quarter. pic.twitter.com/oreUrwwXOE
The previous NBA record for points in an opening quarter was 50 — which had happened five times in the history of the league. The last time it happened was back in 1990 when the Phoenix Suns put up 50 against the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter on their way to a 173-143 win (those 173 points are the most scored by any team in one non-overtime game).
And in the odd fact category: including last night's game, the Denver Nuggets have been the opposing team four out of the six times that a team has scored 50 or more points in the first quarter.
The Warriors ended the game shooting 60 percent from the field and were 53.8 percent from behind the arc. Golden State started the night half a game behind the Nuggets at the top of the conference rankings and with the win, they jumped them and now sit in the number one spot. And Thompson sees it as an indication of what the team is capable of, as quoted by ESPN:
"Obviously, there's not gonna be very many record-setting quarters every night. But it shows you what we're capable of when we're hitting on all cylinders. It's beautiful to watch, and it's more fun to be a part of."
And for the record, while 51 is the most first-quarter points ever, it isn't the most points the Warriors have scored in any quarter. Back in 1989, against the Sacramento Kings, the Warriors dropped 57 points in the third quarter of that game.
What This Means
The Golden State Warriors are a great team that can go off on any given day. But as far as the record goes, while it is impressive, it is really just an indication of the way the game has changed over the last few years with the growth of the 3-point shot and then the new defensive rules introduced this season. It really isn't the same game it was going back 20, 30, or even 40 years.
This actually makes those 50-point first quarter games from the 80s even more impressive in our minds!