LOS ANGELES: The Golden State Warriors swept into the second round of the NBA playoffs on Monday with a crushing 128-103 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. Stephen Curry scored 37 points with eight assists and seven rebounds as the Warriors completed a four-game sweep of the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series against the Blazers.
Curry sat out the entire fourth quarter of a game the Warriors dominated from opening tip. Their 45 first-quarter points matched an NBA playoff record for points in an opening quarter, and they were up by 24 at halftime. “We came out on a mission,” Curry said. “It was a great way to put our foot on the gas pedal and get a win.” Draymond Green added 21 points for the Warriors. Kevin Durant, who missed the last two games with a left calf injury, scored 10 points in just 20 minutes on the floor.
Six Warriors players scored in double figures as Golden state connected on 53.5 percent of their shots from the field, including 17 of 29 from three-point range. Damian Lillard scored 34 points and Al-Farouq Aminu chipped in 25 for Portland, but the Trail Blazers never really threatened. The Warriors scored the first six points of the third quarter to stretch their lead to 30 points. Curry’s three-pointer with seven minutes to play in the third made it 91-58, and Portland wouldn’t get closer than 23 points the rest of the way. The Warriors now await either the Los Angeles Clippers or Utah Jazz, whose series was tied at two games apiece.
Powell sparks Raptors
In Eastern Conference action, the Raptors forged a 3-2 series lead with a 118-93 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Toronto. Norman Powell, making his second start of the series, produced 25 points to help the Raptors move within one win of reaching the second round, with game six in Milwaukee. “(Powell) is a sparkplug,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s the X-factor.” Kyle Lowry added 16 points and 10 assists for the Raptors while Serge Ibaka contributed 19 points, DeMar DeRozan had 18, DeMarre Carroll added 12 and Cory Joseph scored 10 off the bench.
But Bucks coach Jason Kidd said Powell’s energy had added another dimension for the Raptors. “He’s playing extremely hard and he’s knocking down shots, but he’s in there to play defense and he’s playing at a very high level for those guys right now. … He’s picked them up here in the last couple of games just with his energy and spirit.” The winners of the series will face the reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, who swept the Indiana Pacers in four games. The Cavs beat the Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals last season. The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Washington Wizards 111-101 to knot their Eastern Conference series at two games each.
Dennis Schroder shook off early foul trouble and a scoreless first half to finish with 18 points for the Hawks. Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 19 points and Dwight Howard delivered his best performance of the series with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Atlanta out-scored Washington 31-15 in the second quarter and led 59-50 at halftime. The Wizards responded with a 10-2 scoring run to open the third quarter and they were tied 77-77 going into the fourth. The Hawks gained control with a 14-5 scoring run in the final period. Schroder made two three-pointers, a jump shot and a driving layup in the final four minutes. Bradley Beal scored 32 points to lead the Wizards, who host game five today. – AFP