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Wednesday , April 1 2020

Warriors whip Portland at home in West semis opener – Heat, Raptors clash in East Conference Playoff Series

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (front left), is fouled by Portland Trail Blazers center Ed Davis while scoring during the second half in Game 1 of a second-round NBA basketball Playoff Series in Oakland, California on May 1. (AP)
Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (front left), is fouled by Portland Trail Blazers center Ed Davis while scoring during the second half in Game 1 of a second-round NBA basketball Playoff Series in Oakland, California on May 1. (AP)

OAKLAND, California, May 2, (Agencies): Klay Thompson scored 37 points in another brilliant performance as Stephen Curry watched injured and the Golden State Warriors again dominated without their MVP to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 118-106 Sunday in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals.

Draymond Green had his second career postseason triple-double with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for the defending champions.

With Curry sidelined because of a sprained right knee, Green and Thompson took charge again. Thompson hit seven more 3-pointers to become the first player in NBA history to make at least seven 3s in three straight playoff games. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.

Golden State reserve Anderson Varejao and Portland’s Gerald Henderson were ejected late in the third quarter after receiving their second technical fouls. Both were hit with a technical when Varejao tripped Henderson after they collided and the Portland guard jumped up, pointing a finger at his opponent’s face.

Thompson hit a Curry-esque 30-foot 3-pointer in the opening minutes followed by another jumper to put Golden State up 10-2, and the Warriors ran with it from there. Thompson scored 18 of his points in the first quarter on 7-for-10 shooting with four 3s as Golden State built a 37-17 lead.

Damian Lillard had another slow start back home in the Bay Area, missing 11 of his first 13 shots before finishing with 30 points — 10 on free throws.

Shaun Livingston added 12 points and six assists after scoring 16 in each of his first-round starts in place of Curry. The Warriors had 38 and 30 assists their previous two games — including six quarters without Curry — by generating the kind of snappy ball movement coach Steve Kerr called for without Curry’s playmaking. Then 27 more assists Sunday.

Curry, dressed in a dark blue blazer and black shirt, emerged on the bench midway through the second quarter and received big cheers during a timeout.

Portland looked tired at times after eliminating the injury-plagued Los Angeles Clippers in six games Friday night before traveling to the Bay Area. The Blazers began the game 1 of 9 and missed their initial five 3-point attempts.

With Mason Plumlee going up for a one-handed dunk late in the first quarter, Andrew Bogut blocked the shot, then got a hand up to bother Al-Farouq Aminu’s putback attempt. The Australian had another timely block in the second period and finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

Meanwhile, Miami point guard Goran Dragic had a game-high 25 points as the Heat advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals by routing the Charlotte Hornets 106-73 in a deciding Game 7 on Sunday.

“The paint was more open, and I could attack,” Slovenian Dragic said. “(The Hornets) didn’t rotate so quickly. I had more room to operate, and it was a little bit easier than it was earlier.”

Miami, which never trailed, also got 16 points from Gerald Green, 15 points from Luol Deng, 12 points from Dwyane Wade and 10 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks from Hassan Whiteside.

“I’m not a prophet,” Wade said, “but I knew we were winning this game.”

Charlotte, which just a few days ago had a 3-2 series lead, failed to close out the Heat. Hornets guard Kemba Walker, who had 37 points against Miami on Friday, was held to nine points on 3-for-16 shooting. He also had a game-high three turnovers.

Dragic and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra praised Walker despite his poor final game.

“Kemba is an unbelievable player,” Dragic said. “It’s tough to stay in front of him. We knew he was going to be aggressive, maybe try to catch us being tired. We did an amazing job of team defense.”

Spoelstra said it was a “travesty” that Walker was not named an All-Star this season.

“There isn’t anything Kemba can’t do,” Spoelstra said. “He puts so much pressure on you. But Goran didn’t get discouraged. He found his opportunities to be aggressive once their defense started to weaken.

“Dwyane’s usage was high in the last game. Goran had to be a big factor for us tonight.”

In related news, Dwane Casey read the reviews of the Toronto Raptors’ decisive Game 6 loss to the Indiana Pacers. They were not good, and the Toronto coach feels many of the critics dismissed his team heading into Game 7 of the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series. “I think everybody wrote us off and gave us up for dead,” Casey said. “I love that because I thought our guys used it as motivation.”

DeMar DeRozan, who had struggled in the playoffs, took matters into his own hands and led the way with 30 points as the Raptors held on to defeat the Pacers 89-84 on Sunday.

The Raptors advance  to face the Miami Heat in the second round, with Game 1 on Tuesday in Toronto. Toronto led by 16 points with 7:31 to play and then held on as the Pacers cut the margin to three points with 2:35 left. Indiana had the ball with 26.9 seconds to go, down by three, but the Raptors made the stop. DeRozan sank two free throws to stretch the lead to five with 6.5 seconds left to clinch the game.

“We stunk in the fourth quarter,” Casey said. “I don’t know if we ran out of gas. The guys were so jacked up emotionally to start the game, I thought we ran out of gas.” DeRozan said: “We were just going to leave it all out there. It was great. A lot of people don’t get a chance to play a Game 7 with everything on the line.”

“DeMar is special,” said forward Paul George, who led the Pacers with 26 points and 12 rebounds. “Guarding, you’re not going to stop him, but you just try to make every shot as tough as you can for him.”

The Raptors led most of the way and used a 28-20 third-quarter surge to take a 14-point lead into the fourth. “Credit their defense,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “They played really well. They played so hard and they’re so well-prepared. It’s not going to be easy when you’re competing on the road.

“We made a couple of turnovers, which were problematic. You don’t win Game 7s on the road, but we were positioned to do that.”

Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points and 15 rebounds for Toronto, Norman Powell scored 13 points off the bench, and Patrick Patterson had 11. Kyle Lowry added 11 points and nine assists, and Bismack Biyombo contributed three points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

George broke Indiana’s playoff-series record with 191 points, topping the mark of 181 set by Reggie Miller in the 1995 Eastern Conference finals.

George Hill added 19 points for the Pacers, and Monta Ellis had 15.

Led by 13 points from DeRozan, the Raptors were ahead 28-23 after the first quarter. George guided the Pacers with 12 first-quarter points but also picked up two personal fouls.

The Raptors led by as many as eight in the second quarter before settling for a 50-44 edge at the intermission.

Neither team scored in the first two minutes of the second half before Patterson hit a 3-pointer to give the Raptors a nine-point lead.

The Raptors increased their lead to 58-46 when DeMarre Carroll made a 3-point shot.

After a Pacers turnover, Patterson made a 3-pointer to extend the margin to 15. George responded with a 3-pointer for the Pacers. Field goals by Ellis and Solomon Hill trimmed Toronto’s lead to eight.

After Indiana cut the lead to nine on a 3-pointer by George Hill, DeRozan reeled off six straight points and Toronto led by 15.

Toronto’s advantage was 78-64 after three quarters.

The Raptors’ lead reached 16 points with 7:31 to play in the fourth on Cory Joseph’s jumper.

Ellis got the Pacers to within eight, and when Ellis hit a 3-pointer, the margin was down to three.

Lowry got the edge back to five points with two minutes left on a driving layup.

George cut the lead to three with two free throws.

 

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