HOUSTON – Back-to-back NBA champions Golden State Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets again on Tuesday to take a 2-0 lead in the semifinals of the Western Conference while the Milwaukee Bucks managed to draw level at 1-1 against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference.
Small forward Kevin Durant with 29 points, five rebounds and four assists led the Warriors’ attack as they defeated the Rockets 115-109 in the second game of the best-of-seven contest.
Prior to this match, Durant had scored 30 or more points in five consecutive playoff games.
He now has 201 points from five games, becoming the fourth player in NBA history to achieve this feat, joining Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and LeBron James.
Besides Durant, four other Warriors players scored in double digits, including shooting guard Klay Thompson, who posted 21 points with three three-pointers.
Point guard Stephen Curry, who dislocated his left middle finger in the first quarter, also managed to score 20 points and provide five assists, becoming the third-highest scorer for his team in the match.
Shooting guard Andre Iguodala played a crucial role in the game and finished with 16 points and four assists, while power forward Draymond Green posted a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds, and provided seven assists.
“I thought we played really hard. Right from the beginning, we forced a lot of turnovers and got to the loose balls, got to the rebounds (...) so it’s a good start to the game,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr in the post match press conference. “If you can get the first two (matches), it puts you in good shape.”
Shooting guard James Harden, who was hit in both eyes by Green, ended the game as the leading scorer for the Rockets with 29 points, including three three-pointers, while securing seven rebounds and providing four assists.
The third game will be played on Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston.
In the Eastern Conference semifinals, Greek power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo posted a double-double of 29 points and 10 rebounds, while providing four assists to help the Milwaukee Bucks secure a 123-102 victory over the Boston Celtics and tie the best-of-seven series 1-1.
Antetokounmpo, who was not able to make a decisive impact in the first match – which the Bucks lost 112-90 –, upped his game to carry his team to victory from being 25-30 down in the first quarter.
Antetokounmpo was joined by small forward Khris Middleton, who posted 28 points and seven rebounds, as they broke through the Celtics defense from the second quarter onwards.
Point guard Eric Bledsoe was the third-highest scorer from his team with 21 points, including three three-pointers and seven of 12 field goals.
Center Broo Lopez and reserve point guard George Hill scored 10 points each to complete the list of Bucks players to reach double digits.
Power forward Marcus Morris with 17 points was the top scorer for the Celtics, which only had three players scoring in double digits.
The other two were shooting guard Jaylen Brown with 16 points and center Al Horford with 15.
The third and fourth matches will be played on Friday and Sunday, respectively, at Boston’s TD Garden.