Warriors down the Rockets

The Warriors, the best team in the regular season with 67 victories and 15 defeats, pulled away late to beat the Rockets 104-90 and seal a 4-1 series victory in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.

They will battle Eastern Conference champions Cleveland, led by four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James, in their first championship series since 1975 — when the Warriors won their only title.

Reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry, playing with a protective sleeve on his right arm after taking a tumble in game five, led the Warriors with 26 points.

Forward Harrison Barnes played a key role, helping Golden State break open a close contest with four straight baskets to cap an 11-2 scoring run that turned a six-point lead into an 87-72 Warriors advantage with 7:07 left to play.

The Warriors defence harried Rockets star guard James Harden into a dismal two-for-11 shooting performance. He missed all three of his three-point attempts and finished with an NBA playoff record 13 turnovers.

Harden, who scored a critical 45 points as the Rockets fended off elimination in game four, finished with 14 points.