LOS ANGELES: Kevin Durant scored 38 points and the Golden State Warriors withstood a determined Utah effort to down the Jazz 102-91 on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their NBA playoff series.
The Warriors will try to close out the best-of-seven Western Conference second-round series in game four on Monday in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz had hoped a return to their home floor on Saturday would spark a resurgence, and it briefly looked as if it had.
Although the Warriors got off to another fast start, leading by 10 after the first quarter, the Jazz, fueled by a standout performance from French center Rudy Gobert, responded.
They seized the lead for the first time in the series when they went up 48-47 in the second period, and led 50-49 at halftime.
The hosts stretched their lead to as many as nine in the third quarter before the Warriors reasserted themselves.
Durant did the heavy lifting as Stephen Curry connected on just six of 20 shots en route to 23 points and Klay Thompson made just one basket in scoring six points.
Trailing 75-74 early in the fourth, the Warriors launched a 10-4 scoring run to regain a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Warriors out-scored the Jazz by nine points in the final four minutes, Curry warming up late to contribute to the surge with a three-pointer that made it 89-84.
On the next possession Durant came off a screen and drained a pull-up three over Gobert to make it 92-84.
Not long after, Durant and Gobert were involved in a testy exchange, with Durant called for a flagrant foul and a technical. Gobert, however, missed both free throws.
Gobert finished the night with 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Jazz, who were led by Gordon Hayward’s 29 points but still find themselves one defeat away from elimination.
Washington’s Oubre suspended for key playoff game
In New York, Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jnr was suspended by the NBA for Sunday’s (Monday in Manila) crucial playoff game against Boston after throwing Celtics center Kelly Olynyk to the court.
The violation, which brought Oubre a flagrant foul and ejection, took place with 2:48 into the second quarter of Washington’s 116-89 home victory over the Celtics on Thursday.
Oubre’s one-game ban without pay was handed down for “charging and making forceful and unwarranted contact” with Olynyk.
Oubre was upset about the illegal screen set by Canadian 7-foter Olynyk, prompting the angry act in a game that produced three ejections and eight technical fouls.
As a result, Oubre will miss game four of Wizards’ second-round Eastern Conference best-of-seven series against the Celtics, who lead the matchup 2-1 entering the showdown at Washington.
The winner will meet either Cleveland or Toronto for a berth in next month’s NBA Finals.
Oubre, 21, averaged 6.3 points and 3.3 rebounds a game for the Wizards this season.