THE Golden State Warriors clamped down in the fourth quarter to pull away to a 121-109 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday in game one of their NBA playoff series.
Golden State, aiming to get back to the NBA finals for a third straight year and regain the crown they surrendered last season to the Cleveland Cavaliers, had 32 points from Kevin Durant in his first playoff game as a Warrior. Stephen Curry added 29.
But the player of the game was Draymond Green. The big man was everywhere, finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocked shots and three steals for the Warriors.
Two of those blocks were highlight reel efforts — and had Twitter blowing up.
Not on Draymond’s watch. pic.twitter.com/igO0vp3Lse
— ESPN (@espn) April 16, 2017
Draymond is EVERYWHERE. pic.twitter.com/5WWvYvGVeD
— ESPN (@espn) April 16, 2017
Draymond was hooooopington!!!
— Brandon Jennings (@brandonjennings) April 16, 2017
Draymond Green is just absurd. It’s just insane how good he is. He just disrupts everything. He throws wrenches into every sequence.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 16, 2017
Draymond Green is playing fantastic defense. He has single-handedly given the Warriors control of this game.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) April 16, 2017
Please keep trying to dunk on Draymond. This is tremendous viewing.
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) April 16, 2017
You flatly cannot play defense better than Draymond has played it in the 2nd half today. My word.
— nick wright (@getnickwright) April 16, 2017
Draymond proved why he is #DPOY. Really insane game right there.
— Chris Manning 2K17 (@LD2K) April 16, 2017
Golden State withstood 75 combined points from the Trail Blazers duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to triumph in a game that saw 22 lead changes.
They were tied at halftime and knotted at 88-88 after three quarters. But the Warriors opened the fourth frame with a 15-2 scoring run to seize control.
Backup point guard Ian Clark contributed seven points in the flurry, but it was increased defensive pressure that really turned the tide.
“We let them get to their spots in the first half,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They still made some tough shots, which they’re going to do. I thought we did a better job in the second half of being a little more physical.”
The Trail Blazers pulled within 105-99 with 5:16 to play. But Green tipped in a Curry miss and Durant produced three straight baskets to stretch Golden State’s lead to 113-99 with 3:36 remaining.
Durant, acquired as a free agent after the Warriors’ loss to the Cavs in last year’s finals, connected on 12 of his 20 shots and also pulled down 10 rebounds.
Game two of the series, a rematch of a Western Conference semi-final last season, is on Wednesday.
It’s not clear if the Blazers could have centre Jusuf Nurkic back by then from a broken leg that saw him miss the last seven games of the regular season as well as Sunday’s game.
“Hopefully he’ll be back at some point during the series,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
WALL LEADS WIZARDS
Sunday’s Eastern Conference action got underway in Washington, where John Wall scored 15 of his 32 points in a dominant third quarter to lead the Wizards to a 114-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in their series opener.
Wall also handed out 14 assists while teammate Bradley Beal scored 22 points and Markieff Morris added 21.
German guard Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 25 points and Paul Millsap had 19. Atlanta made 32 of 39 free throws, but connected on just 43.6 per cent of their shots from the floor and turned the ball over 21 times.
In a back and forth battle, the Hawks led 48-45 at halftime. But the Wizards, seeded fourth in the East after missing the playoffs last year, outscored Atlanta 38-28 in the third and led by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter.
In Boston, Celtics scoring dynamo Isaiah took to the court for game one against the Chicago Bulls despite the death of his 22-year-old sister Chyna Thomas in a road accident in their home state of Washington on Saturday.
“He’s really hurt,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Thomas. “It’s a tough situation.”
Thomas received a heartwarming standing ovation from the crowd and wore a pair of shoes with his sister’s name pencilled on them.
SOURCE: newsnow sport