WASHINGTON: Draymond Green keyed an early surge as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Utah Jazz 115-104 on Thursday (Friday in Manila) to take a 2-0 lead in their NBA Western Conference second-round playoff series.
Green drained five three-pointers en route to 21 points as the Warriors remained unbeaten in six games this post-season.
Kevin Durant added 25 points, 11xxxxxxxxq rebounds and seven assists, while Stephen Curry had 23 points and seven assists for Golden State, who raced to an early lead and stifled Utah’s attempts to come back.
Gordon Hayward shook off a slow start to score 33 points for Utah, who were without injured point guard George Hill.
Rudy Gobert added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Jazz before fouling out in the waning seconds.
By then, the Warriors had rebuilt their lead to 12 points after seeing it dwindle to seven with 1:45 to play.
Throughout the contest the Warriors had an answer for every threat from the Jazz — despite some sloppy defense and 17 turnovers that led to 22 Utah points.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Warriors coach Mike Brown — standing in for ailing head coach Steve Kerr. “We felt it. We know we can play better. We broke down in a lot of areas where we should have been better.
“We did some nice things,” Brown added. “We had 33 assists, we held them to five offensive rebounds. We got the ‘W’.”
The Warriors’ biggest scare came when Green took a hard fall in the fourth quarter, then seemed to slip as he rose and grabbed his left knee.
He eventually returned to the court—a good sign for the Warriors, who will try to stretch their lead in the best-of-seven series in game three on Saturday in Salt Lake City.
Wizards flex muscle
In an Eastern Conference series growing more intense with every game, the Washington Wizards defeated the Boston Celtics 116-89.
John Wall scored 24 points for the Wizards, who seized control of the contest with a 22-0 scoring run in the first quarter on the way to trimming the series deficit to 2-1.
The Wizards will try to level the series when they host game four on Sunday.
Although Washington never trailed, there was plenty of tension, with eight technical fouls handed out and Washington’s Kelly Oubre Jr. ejected in the first half for a flagrant foul.
Washington’s Brandon Jennings and Boston’s Terry Rozier were also ejected after receiving two technicals.
After failing to hang onto double-digit leads in the first two games in Boston, the Wizards avoided a letdown on their home court.
“Being home, we had the crowd on our side and we were just locked in,” said Otto Porter, who scored 19 points for Washington, as did Bojan Bogdanovic.
Isaiah Thomas, who scored 53 points in Boston’s 129-119 overtime win on Tuesday, was held to just 13 points this time.
The Celtics, led by Al Horford’s 19 points, shot 35.1 percent from the field and were never closer than 19 points in the second half.
The real damage came earlier. With the game tied at 12-12, the Wizards held the Celtics scoreless for more than five minutes, taking a 39-17 lead after the first quarter.
“They did what they were supposed to do,” Thomas said. “They hit first, they set the tone.”
Washington was up 45-24 early in the second quarter when Boston’s Kelly Olynyk was whistled for a hard foul on Oubre. Reacting to the aggressive hit, Oubre charged and shoved Olynyk to the ground, also making contact with an official.
Wizards center Ian Mahinmi and Boston’s Jonas Jerebko were handed technical fouls for a first-half skirmish.
Jennings and Rozier were both ejected in the fourth quarter after each received a second technical, and both Celtics coach Brad Stevens and Wizards coach Scott Brooks were whistled for technicals.
“We don’t like them and they don’t like us,” Thomas said. “That’s just what it is. Two teams competing.”