Durant propels Warriors past Jazz
Los Angeles (AFP) – Kevin Durant scored 38 points and the Golden State Warriors withstood a determined Utah effort to down the Jazz 102-91 on Saturday to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their NBA playoff series.
The Warriors will try to close out the best-of-seven Western Conference second-round series in game four on Monday in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz had hoped a return to their home floor on Saturday would spark a resurgence, and it briefly looked as if it had.
Although the Warriors got off to another fast start, leading by 10 after the first quarter, the Jazz, fueled by a standout performance from French center Rudy Gobert, responded.
They seized the lead for the first time in the series when they went up 48-47 in the second period, and led 50-49 at halftime.
The hosts stretched their lead to as many as nine in the third quarter before the Warriors reasserted themselves.
Durant did the heavy lifting as Stephen Curry connected on just six of 20 shots en route to 23 points and Klay Thompson made just one basket in scoring six points.
Trailing 75-74 early in the fourth, the Warriors launched a 10-4 scoring run to regain a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Warriors out-scored the Jazz by nine points in the final four minutes, Curry warming up late to contribute to the surge with a three-pointer that made it 89-84.
On the next possession Durant came off a screen and drained a pull-up three over Gobert to make it 92-84.
Not long after, Durant and Gobert were involved in a testy exchange, with Durant called for a flagrant foul and a technical. Gobert, however, missed both free throws.
Gobert finished the night with 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Jazz, who were led by Gordon Hayward’s 29 points but still find themselves one defeat away from elimination.