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Warriors down Rockets, take a 2-0 lead

On the prowl: Kevin Durant proved unstoppable for Warriors.  

Kevin Durant scored 29 points and Klay Thompson added 21 as the Golden State Warriors downed the Houston Rockets 115-109 in a bruising NBA playoff clash on Tuesday.

Defending champion Warriors never trailed, but had to battle to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference second-round series, which shifts to Houston for Game 3 on Saturday.

Injury scare

Both teams had an injury scare in the first quarter, when Houston’s 2018 NBA MVP James Harden suffered a left eye injury after he was inadvertently swiped in the face by Draymond Green as they battled for the ball.

Warriors guard Stephen Curry left briefly with a dislocated middle finger on his left hand, returning with it taped up before the quarter ended. Harden returned in the second quarter, but appeared to feel discomfort from the injury during the game, sometimes squinting in the bright lights.

“He got raked pretty good in the eyes,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said of Harden, who finished with 29 points — including 13 in the fourth quarter. “I'm sure he would have loved to have played better, but under the circumstances I thought he played great.”

D’Antoni said he knew Harden would return to the contest unless the injury was “catastrophic” but even with their superstar on the court, the Rockets couldn’t find a way past the Warriors. “Tonight we just stayed the course,” Thompson said.

Houston trimmed a 15-point deficit to three points in the fourth quarter, but their 18 turnovers, leading to 24 Warriors points, were ultimately too costly.

Curry helped the Warriors’ cause with 20 points and Green contributed a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds along with seven assists. “We had our chances toward the end,” D’Antoni said. “They made big plays.”

Sweet revenge

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee Bucks bounced back with a vengeance, routing the Boston Celtics 123-102 to knot their series at one game apiece.

The top-seeded Bucks, who fell 112-90 at home to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference series opener, weren’t about to allow a repeat.

Antetokounmpo scored 29 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and Khris Middleton connected on seven of 10 from three-point range on the way to 28 points as the Bucks regained home court advantage in the best-of-seven series.

“It’s tough when a team comes into your home and gets the two first games so we had that in the back of our minds. We came out, we played hard, we moved the ball, we trusted one another and that’s why we got a win,” Antetokounmpo said.

The Bucks drained a club playoff record 20 three-pointers and clamped down defensively, seizing control with 35 points in the third quarter in a game in which they led by as many as 30 points.

Middleton made five of his three-pointers before half-time as Milwaukee took a 59-55 lead into the break. He added a couple of three-pointers early on in the third before Antetokounmpo took charge.

Milwaukee’s MVP candidate drove the lane to earn a pair of free-throws, made a three-pointer and then assisted on Ersan Ilyasova's jump shot.

A tip-in basket and another free-throw from Antetokounmpo added to Milwaukee's 12-0 scoring run, broken up by a three-pointer from Boston’s Aron Baynes.

Antetokounmpo scored 15 points during this period and the Bucks closed the quarter on a 24-2 scoring run that essentially sealed Boston’s fate.

The results:

Eastern Conference: Boston Celtics 102 (Marcus Morris 17, Jaylen Brown 16, Al Horford 15) lost to Milwaukee Bucks 123 (Giannis Antetokounmpo 29, Khris Middleton 28, Eric Bledsoe 21). (Series tied 1-1).

Western Conference: Houston Rockets 109 (James Harden 29, Chris Paul 18, Eric Gordon 15) lost to Golden State Warriors 115 (Kevin Durant 29, Klay Thompson 21, Stephen Curry 20, Andre Iguodala 16, Draymond Green 15). (Warriors lead series 2-0).

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 6:10:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/warriors-down-rockets-take-a-2-0-lead/article27003973.ece

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