The Golden State Warriors clamped down in the fourth quarter to pull away to a 121-109 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday in game one of their NBA playoff series.
John Wall scored 15 of his 32 points in a dominant third quarter Sunday as his Washington Wizards beat the Atlanta Hawks 114-107 in the opener of their NBA playoff series.
Wall also handed out 14 assists while teammate Bradley Beal scored 22 points and Markieff Morris added 21 as the Wizards seized the initiative in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round 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. Draymond Green was everywhere, finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocked shots and three steals for the Warriors.
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.