Tue, May 03, 2016 - Page 20 News List

Warriors keep cruising; Heat, Raptors to clash

AFP, LOS ANGELES

The Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson, center left, goes to the basket, drawing a foul by the Portland Trail Blazers’ Ed Davis, center, in their NBA Western Conference second-round playoff game at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA

Klay Thompson and Draymond Green made sure the Golden State Warriors barely missed injured superstar Stephen Curry on Sunday in a 118-106 victory over Portland in the first game of their NBA Western Conference second-round playoff series.

Thompson scored 37 points and Green notched the first post-season triple-double of his career as the reigning champion Warriors took a quick lead and never looked back on their home court in Oakland, California.

Thompson drained a three-pointer 17 seconds into the contest and the Warriors rolled from there.

Thompson scored 18 of his 37 points in the first quarter — when Portland scored just 17 points.

The Warriors led 37-17 after the first quarter and the Trail Blazers never closed the gap to less than nine points.

Australian big man Andrew Bogut delivered a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds, as did Harrison Barnes. Shaun Livingston, starting in place of Curry, chipped in 12 points and six assists.

Curry watched from the sidelines, and indicated he would like to be back on the court by Game 3 on Saturday.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr made no promises about the return of Curry, who sprained a knee ligament in Game 4 of the first-round series against Houston.

However, the Warriors are managing just fine without the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player.

“It helped us to have to play most of the Houston series without Steph,” Kerr said. “We just got into a good groove and that carried over to tonight. Our guys have an understanding of how we have to play without Steph.”

Green said the Warriors would not expect Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and the rest of the Trail Blazers to struggle so much in every game.

However, he said he is confident the Warriors have what it takes to beat them, with or without Curry.

“Listen, we know they are not going to have games like this every night,” Green said of a Blazers team whose five starters made just 23 of 75 attempts. “If we can make them take tough shots ... we think they will wear down throughout the course of the series.”

While the Warriors were setting a tone for the second round, the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat finally wrapped up first-round series victories to set up an Eastern Conference semi-final showdown.

In Toronto, DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points and the Raptors held off the Indiana Pacers 89-84 to win their first-round series four games to three, while the Heat thumped the Charlotte Hornets 106-73 in Game 7 of their series.

Toronto’s first post-season series triumph since 2001 ended the longest active drought between playoff series wins.

It was also the Raptors’ first win in a seven-game series, rather than a five-game set.

“I think everybody wrote the Raptors off and gave us up for dead,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said of the reaction to the Raptors’ failure to close out the series in Game 6. “That locker room is full of fighters and scrappers.”

The Raptors needed that fight in the fourth quarter, when a 16-point lead dwindled to three with 2 minutes, 36 seconds to play.

The Pacers had the ball with 26.9 seconds remaining and the Raptors’ lead still at three, but Toronto got a defensive stop. DeRozan made two free throws to build the lead to five with 6.5 seconds remaining.

“We stunk it up in the fourth quarter,” said Casey, who thought the emotion of the game might have added to his players’ fatigue. “It was not pretty, but our defense carried us down the stretch.”

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