The Golden State Warriors went into Houston on Friday and rolled over the Rockets 125-108 to improve their NBA-best record to 37-6.
Durant thoroughly outdueled Harden, as he dropped 32 points on 12-of-19 shooting and seven assists.
With all the Golden State defensive pressure focused on him, Harden could only muster 17 points, but he facilitated well with 11 assists.
That third Western Conference starter was Stephen Curry, who was not to be forgotten in the matchup, as he dropped 24 points and seven assists.
Such high point tallies were to be expected, as these are the top two scoring teams in the league. The Warriors entered Friday night leading the NBA with 117.8 points per game, while the Rockets were in second with 114.5.
The victory also provided emphatic revenge for the Warriors, who lost to the Rockets 132-127 in double overtime on Dec. 1, which included 88 combined three-point attempts.
On Friday, the two sharpshooting teams combined to hoist 73 three-pointers. Golden State hit 15, while Houston was limited to just seven on 35 attempts.
While the Warriors had several players clicking early on offense, the Rockets were relying on Harden, Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley.
Beverley finished with 13, while Ariza added 12, and they helped keep things close despite an early Golden State 10-0 run.
The three combined for 19 of their team's first 24 points, including this Harden jumper, via the NBA:
But Durant was quick to remind his former teammate that he can be just as unstoppable, via the NBA:
While Golden State held a slim lead for the majority of the first half, a 14-4 run helped open up a 14-point lead with 6:19 left.
But when Warriors center Zaza Pachulia committed his fourth foul, the Rockets keyed in on the inside game and cut their deficit to just five at halftime.
The NBA showed how fluent the Rockets' transition game was without Pachulia waiting under the basket:
Clint Capela was the largest beneficiary of the Warriors' struggling interior defense, as he posted a team-high 22 points.
Durant once again settled things down in the third quarter with unstoppable drives to the basket, via the NBA:
Added with Pachulia's return down low, Golden State reopened a double-digit advantage just two minutes into the second half.
Curry finding his stroke from deep didn't hurt, either. His third three of the night from straight away helped Golden State's lead swell to 20 with 4:10 left in the quarter, via the NBA:
That 20-point advantage stayed just as large going into the fourth and allowed Golden State to cruise to a sixth straight win.
The Warriors and Rockets were heading into Friday night on opposite ends of the spectrum in recent play, and it showed, especially in the second half.
Golden State had won nine of its last 10, including a 35-point smackdown of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. The Rockets, on the other hand, had lost three of their last four before beating the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
For a team that is as close to unbeatable in the NBA as there could possibly be, the Warriors—when playing their best—are a nightmare for any opponent.
The Rockets are in the midst of a difficult and packed schedule. Starting Tuesday with a loss to the Miami Heat, the Rockets have nine games in a 15-day stretch with the next five coming on the road.
Even before he could talk about the loss to the Warriors, Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni reminded everyone of his displeasure regarding the schedule, via Lainie Fritz of KPRC2:
Regardless, he realized his team did not play near the high level that the Warriors exhibited, via Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle:
Draymond Green, who provided 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, spoke about the dominant week the Warriors had but didn't take much stock in it, via Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News:
With the Warriors seemingly improving more and more each time they take the floor, questions are bound to arise about just how high this team's ceiling could be.
There's plenty of time left in the regular season for Golden State to fine-tune things or for the rest of the league to figure out how to slow it down, but to no one's surprise, the Warriors are currently the class of the NBA and clicking on all cylinders.
Stats courtesy of ESPN.com.