N.B.A. Playoffs: Kevin Durant Stops Worrying, and can’t Stop Scoring
Kevin Durant made his approach to taking over a pivotal N.B.A. playoff game sound so simple — and look that way, too.
“I just try to tell myself that I’m at my best when I don’t care what happens after the game, the outcome or anything,” Durant said. “That’s when I’m free and having fun out there, and forceful.”
Durant scored Golden State’s first two baskets on his way to 38 points on 15-of-27 shooting, and the Warriors routed the host New Orleans Pelicans, 118-92, on Sunday to take a commanding three-games-to-one lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.
The Warriors can advance to the conference finals with a win at home on Tuesday night.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry said it was apparent early that getting the ball to Durant would be wise.
“Just find ways to get him in scoring positions,” said Curry, who had 23 points. “Sometimes, that’s not really hard to do — just throw it to him.”
The Warriors lost by 19 in Game 3 on Friday, and the Pelicans were looking to even the series. Instead, the Warriors responded with a resounding effort that produced a wire-to-wire win with leads as large as 26 points. Klay Thompson scored 13 points, and Quinn Cook, a former Pelicans reserve, contributed 12.
Draymond Green had 8 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks. With his fourth rebound, Green became the third player in Warriors history to reach 800 playoff rebounds. Wilt Chamberlain (922) and Nate Thurmond (896) are the only others.
E’Twaun Moore scored 20 and Jrue Holiday added 19, but New Orleans reserves combined for just 14 points after scoring 32 two nights earlier. Rajon Rondo finished with 11 rebounds but had only six assists after racking up 21 in Game 3. The Pelicans also committed 19 turnovers, which led to 21 Warriors points.
ROCKETS 100, JAZZ 87 Chris Paul had 27 points and 12 rebounds while James Harden scored 24 points to power visiting Houston to a win over Utah, taking a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series.
Paul, playing the sidekick to Harden for most of his first season in Houston, took center stage, controlling the tempo and getting to his favorite spots as the Rockets led from start to finish.
Donovan Mitchell scored 25 for the Jazz before fouling out, and Joe Ingles had 15.
Mitchell started finding lanes to the basket late and got the Jazz within 85-80 after he fueled a 10-2 run. But Paul hit a pull-up jumper and found Trevor Ariza for a 3-pointer to put the Rockets back up by double digits, and they never looked back.
The N.B.A. fined the Toronto Raptors’ president, Masai Ujiri, $25,000 for walking onto the court at halftime of Game 3 against the Cleveland Cavaliers to verbally confront officials for reversing a call. The incident occurred on Saturday night during the Raptors’ 105-103 loss to the Cavaliers.