Kyrie Irving was on fire for Boston.
Kyrie Irving was on fire for Boston.

Red hot NBA freak does it again

Kevin Durant scored 35 points and the Golden State Warriors held off the Houston Rockets 104-100 in the opener of what is shaping up to be a sensational best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final.

Houston's Chris Paul was ejected with 4.4 seconds left for a second technical. He had rebounded a missed three-pointer by James Harden that could have tied the game with nine seconds left and was arguing for a foul.

Draymond Green added 14 points, nine assists and nine rebounds for two-time defending champions the Warriors, who are meeting the Rockets in the postseason for the fourth time in five years and with Houston having never been victorious.

Harden scored 35 points and Eric Gordon 27 after both struggled early finding their shooting strokes for the cold-shooting Rockets. They shot 14 for 47 from long range and were without reserve guard Austin Rivers because of an illness.

Harden's three-point play with 40 seconds left pulled Houston within two points, down 100-98. Steph Curry knocked down a three on the other end moments later and finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Durant, who had combined for 95 points the previous two games against the LA Clippers in Golden State's opening playoff series, shot 11 for 25 and made 12 of 15 free throws in his fifth straight 30-point playoff performance - matching his career-best streak accomplished from June 1-12, 2017.

Kevin Durant is laughably good right now.
Kevin Durant is laughably good right now.

Technical fouls on Paul and Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni 2.1 seconds apart in the final minute of the third quarter allowed the Warriors to take an 83-76 lead into the final 12 minutes after Durant converted the resulting free throws.

Klay Thompson scored 13 points for the Warriors after both he and Curry had been listed as questionable starters, nursing tender right ankles after they each sprained them in Game 6 against the Clippers.

Curry was cleared beforehand but Thompson had to go through warmups before Golden State's medical staff determined he was fine to play. Coach Steve Kerr went with Andre Iguodala over Aussie Andrew Bogut in the starting five to go smaller out of the gates against the Rockets.

Iguodala picked up two quick fouls and Kevon Looney entered off the bench and made his first three shots.

These two powerhouse teams fought through a seven-game series in last year's Western Conference finals, when Golden State rallied from a 3-2 deficit to win Game 7 on Houston's home floor.

CELTICS STUN BUCKS

Kyrie Irving had 26 points and 11 assists, Al Horford added 20 points and 11 rebounds, and the Boston Celtics cruised past the Milwaukee Bucks 112-90 in the opener of their second-round playoff series.

Jaylen Brown chipped in with 19 points and Gordon Hayward had 13 off the bench for the Celtics.

Boston controlled the game for long stretches and played stingy defence against MVP candidate Giannis Antetokoumpo, who scored 22 points but in an uncharacteristically poor performance shot just 7 for 21. Antetokounmpo didn't make his first field goal until the first minute of the second quarter.

Khris Middleton had 16 points for Milwaukee, which completed a four-game sweep of the Detroit Pistons and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001 but they were handed a brutal reality check by the Celtics, who were coming off a sweep of their own against Indiana.

Not even Giannis Antetokounmpo could steer his side to the win.
Not even Giannis Antetokounmpo could steer his side to the win.

The Celtics knocked Milwaukee out of the playoffs in seven games last year, winning the final game at home. This year, Milwaukee is the top seed in the East and has home-court advantage throughout the postseason after posting the NBA's best record, but Boston didn't play like an underdog in any way.

The Celtics jumped out early, leading by as many as 11 in the opening quarter. Boston shot at 52 per cent while the Bucks shot only 5 of 19.

The shooting woes continued for the Bucks until midway through the second quarter, when Milwaukee used a 15-0 run to pull even at 40-all. The teams then traded baskets with the Celtics grabbing a 52-50 lead at the half.

Boston used a 9-0 run in the third quarter to again build a double-digit lead, which grew to as much as 21 as Milwaukee again failed to make shots.



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