OAKLAND – Star forward Kevin Durant scored 35 points on Sunday to usher the Golden State Warriors past the Houston Rockets 104-100 in the first match of the best-of-seven NBA Western Conference semifinals round.
Neither team had a brilliant game, but in the end the decisive points fell on the Warriors’ side, with Durant and point guard Stephen Curry once again becoming the determining players.
Power forward Draymond Green contributed 14 points, 9 assists and 9 rebounds and was the most versatile player of the two-time league champion team. The Warriors are facing the Rockets in the final phase for the fourth time in the last five years, but the Texan team has not been able to win in the previous three.
Rockets guard James Harden contributed 35 points and 6 assists, but failed 12 of 16 attempts at three-pointers, whereas shooting guard Eric Gordon scored 27 points but wasn’t able to land much from downtown either, with only 4 successful shots out of 13 attempts.
The Rockets scored 14 three-point field goals out of 47 attempts, barely reaching a 30-percent success rate.
Chris Paul got 17 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds, while the Swiss center Clint Capela didn’t do much to help his team and finished with just 4 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists.
Harden scored a three-pointer with 40 seconds to go and put the Rockets 2 points ahead (100-98), but Curry scored a monumental three-point field goal over the defense of Brazilian center Nene Hilario on the Warriors’ next possession, finishing with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
Durant scored 11 of 25 field goals and 12 of 15 from the free-throw line. In the previous two games of the first-round tie against the Los Angeles Clippers, he was able to establish his best professional records in the playoffs with 45 and 50 points, respectively.
The Warriors’ star forward scored at least 30 points for the fifth game straight, equaling his best professional record established in the 2017 season between June 1-12, his first with the Warriors.
Durant, with his first basket of the game, reached 1,281 points and surpassed the legendary Wilt Chamberlain (1,246) in fifth place in the list of all-time top scorers for the Warriors in the playoff competition.
Shooting guard Klay Thompson, despite having an ankle injury, contributed 13 points. The presence of Stephen Curry, who was also suffering the same type of pain as a sequel of the sixth game against the Clippers, was doubtful before the start of the match against the team from the Lone Star State.
The referees gave technical fouls to coach Mike D’Antoni and Chris Paul with 2.1 seconds left before the end of the third period, allowing the Warriors to score both free throws that gave the team an 83-76 advantage.
The second match of the series is set to be played on April 30 in the same venue, the Oracle Arena.