Basketball / NBA

Warriors draw first blood against Rockets with Game 1 victory

AP

Steve Kerr saw his share of spectacular postseason performances playing alongside one of the greatest ever.

“There was this guy named Michael, I can’t remember his last name,” the Golden State coach cracked in reference to former Bulls teammate Michael Jordan.

Kevin Durant is having a superb postseason run of his own.

Durant scored 35 points in outdueling James Harden and the Warriors held off the Houston Rockets 104-100 on Sunday in the opener of what is shaping up to be a sensational best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal.

“When he’s being as aggressive as he’s been, I don’t think there’s anyone in the NBA, maybe the world who can stop him,” Draymond Green said of the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP.

Houston’s Chris Paul was ejected with 4.4 seconds left for a second technical, though he said afterward he wasn’t sure what he did wrong — and he wouldn’t say whether he made contact with official Josh Tiven while arguing.

“I don’t know yet. Nobody told me. He just called a tech,” said Paul, who had rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Harden that could have tied the game with 9 seconds left and was arguing for a foul.

Green added 14 points, nine assists and nine rebounds for the two-time defending champion Warriors, who are meeting the Rockets in the postseason for the fourth time in five years, with Houston having never been victorious.

Game 2 is Tuesday night back at Oracle Arena.

Harden scored 35 points and Eric Gordon 27 after both struggled early. The Rockets shot 14-for-47 from long range.

Harden, who shot 9 for 28 and 4 of 16 on 3s, wasn’t shy about his frustration with the officiating and the lack of foul calls on Houston’s 3-point tries.

“I just want a fair chance, man. Call the game how it’s supposed to be called and that’s it, and I’ll live with the results,” Harden said.

Told of Harden’s remarks, Green said: “Huh? I’ve been fouled by James on a James 3-pointer before. I ain’t trying to hear that.”

Harden’s three-point play with 40 seconds left pulled Houston within 100-98. Stephen Curry knocked down a 3 on the other end over Nene moments later and finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Celtics 112, Bucks 90

In Milwaukee, Al Horford and Jaylen Brown hit 3-pointers in a 12-point, third-quarter flurry that erased a momentary deficit and propelled the visiting Celtics to a victory over the top-seeded Bucks in the opener of their Eastern Conference best-of-seven semifinal series.

The Celtics led most of the game but found themselves down 56-54 after Brook Lopez nailed a 3-pointer in the second minute of the third quarter.

Boston responded with its 12-0 run, which Horford capped with his 3-pointer for a 66-56 lead with 7:37 left in the period.

The Celtics went on to lead by as many as 19 in the quarter and gradually pulled away in the final quarter after the Bucks rallied within 12.

Kyrie Irving had 26 points and 11 assists, tying his playoff career high, and Horford added 20 points and 11 rebounds to pace Boston, which controlled the game for long stretches while playing stingy defense against Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“Our focus was to make sure that we just made it tough on him every time, just making sure he earned everything he got,” Horford said. “I felt like we did a pretty good job of that.”

Jaylen Brown chipped in with 19 points and Gordon Hayward had 13 off the bench for the Celtics.

Antetokounmpo scored 22 points but shot just 7 for 21. He didn’t make his first field goal until the first minute of the second quarter.

“It was one of the toughest losses we’ve ever had, all season, especially at home,” Antetokounmpo said.

Game 2 is Tuesday in Milwaukee.