HOUSTON – Kevin Durant continues to deliver in the postseason for the Golden State Warriors.
He scored 37 points on Monday night to lead the Warriors to a 119-106 win in the long-awaited showdown with the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
But if it were up to him, he would have done even more.
Durant wasn’t happy with coach Steve Kerr when he took him out late in the third quarter and loudly asked his coach why he was putting him on the bench. Durant, who played just more than 40 minutes, was asked if he’d prefer to play the entire 48 minutes.
“Probably so,” Durant said.
Kerr acknowledged that he should have left him in at that point and raved about his performance after his fourth 30-point game this postseason.
“This is why anybody would want him on their team . . . I don’t know what you do to guard him,” Kerr said. “He can get any shot he wants.”
Starting a playoff series on the road for the first time in four years, the Warriors trailed by as many as nine early, but had evened it up by halftime and used a big run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to pull away.
“We’re in the Western Conference finals they are going to come out with a lot of energy,” Durant said. “We’re going to take that first punch and keep punching.”
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Houston.
Eric Gordon opened the final period with a 3-pointer to get the top-seeded Rockets within four, but Thompson scored the first eight points of a 13-4 run to make it 100-87 with about eight minutes left.
Houston used a 9-3 spurt, where James Harden scored five, to cut the lead to 103-96 with less than five minutes to go. But Klay Thompson struck again, hitting a wide open 3 to leave the Warriors ahead by 10 with four minutes left.
Harden scored 41 to lead the Rockets, who lost at home for the second time this postseason.
“You’re not going to come in and just knock them out,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. “There were too many times where we had mental lapses. We didn’t switch properly, turned the ball over and missed too many layups. We need to do a better job of staying up mentally.”
Now the Rockets are left to regroup after losing their leg up in the home-court advantage they worked all season for.
“It’s nice to have home court,” D’Antoni said. “(But) we don’t have it. Now we’ve got to go get it.”
Steph Curry added 18 for the Warriors, who are in the conference finals for a franchise-record fourth straight time. It’s Houston’s first trip since 2015 when Golden State won the series in five games.
“I think he’s going to get even better as the series goes on, which is good for us,” Kerr said of Curry.
The Warriors, who are the second seed in the West, opened a playoff series away from Oracle Arena for the first time since 2014.